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Office of the Provost Accreditation

Levels of Recommendations

Levels of Recommendations

Topic: Are there different levels of recommendations from NWCCU?

Challenge/opportunity: WSU aims to maintain sufficient progress in all areas of institutional development such that any recommendations received from NWCCU focus on improvement rather than on compliance issues. NWCCU almost always provides recommendations for improvement because of its continuous improvement mission. Upon review of a college or university’s performance, NWCCU can take the following types of actions, which range from positive to severe:

  1. Reaffirmation of accreditation, which may include “recommendations” for improvement;
  2. Request a special report (with or without an on-site evaluation of progress) to address areas of concern;
  3. Defer action on reaffirmation pending responses to concerns;
  4. Declare an “adverse status” under which NWCCU issues, imposes, or continues a sanction which can range from a warning or probation to a show-cause notification;
  5. Remove a sanction;
  6. Terminate accreditation.

Recent actions/outcomes:

  • All recommendations received since 1990 have concerned improvement issues rather than compliance issues.
  • WSU received a commendation in 2013 for the quality of its resolution of a 2009 recommendation to improve its culture of assessment.
  • The Provost’s Accreditation, Assessment, and Academic Program Review Committee (AAAC) plans and monitors university responses to NWCCU recommendations.

Current/future emphasis or next steps:

  • WSU will collaborate with regional peer institutions to share information on received recommendations in order to anticipate NWCCU expectations and trends.
  • WSU monitors NWCCU standards through attendance at annual meetings and regular contact between the university liaison officer and NWCCU.

For more information: 

NWCCU standards reference: Accreditation Handbook (p. 103). Recommendation – A major finding with respect to the accreditation criteria requiring immediate institutional attention. A Recommendation may indicate an area of non-compliance with accreditation criteria or an area where the institution is substantially in compliance with accreditation criteria, but in need of improvement.


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