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The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting institutions in southern states. SACSCOC originally accredited the University of Central Florida in 1970. UCF’s accreditation status is reviewed every fifth (interim report) and tenth (decennial report) year; planning is now being conducted for the 2016 reaffirmation of accreditation.

As part of the decennial reaffirmation, SACSCOC requires each university to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Core Requirement 2.12, in The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, states the institution must develop an “acceptable Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that includes an institutional process for identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment and focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution” (2012, p. 21).

The QEP may be interpreted broadly by the university community and SACSCOC. The SACSCOC website describes the QEP in the following manner:

The concept of quality enhancement is at the heart of the Commission’s philosophy of accreditation. Each institution seeking reaffirmation of Accreditation is required to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). Engaging the wider academic community and addressing one or more issues that contribute to institutional improvement, the plan should be focused, succinct, and limited in length. The QEP describes a carefully designed and focused course of action that addresses a well-defined topic or issue(s) related to enhancing student learning. (¬†http://www.sacscoc.org/genaccproc.asp)

The QEP should represent a new endeavor for the university and cannot be something that has been or is nearly accomplished. It is submitted to SACSCOC no later than six weeks prior to the on-site reaffirmation committee visit to the UCF campus scheduled for Spring 2016. Our internal deadline for completion of the narrative and the task and assessment plan is August 2015.

The QEP will be shaped through broad-based university input in topic selection and will be implemented by the university community in a variety of ways in order to enhance student learning. It will evolve through five phases, each of which is described below.

Phase 1: Initial Planning

The purpose of this phase is to identify the resources required for the development of the QEP and to initiate the process of identifying an appropriate topic. The goal of this phase is to assemble a QEP planning team with broad representation from the UCF community and to develop a list of potential QEP topics for further evaluation and analysis.

The committee will:

  • announce the QEP and invite comment from various UCF constituencies using this website and a variety of other approaches;
  • review UCF’s strategic plan, mission, values, and goals, as well as results of graduating student surveys from undergraduate students, and Information Fluency (IF) assessments;
  • develop and distribute one-page summaries of the initial list of potential topics for the QEP based on the information listed above;
  • research and review QEP topics developed by other institutions that are similar to UCF’s potential topics;
  • prepare a survey for eliciting reaction to identified topics and potential ideas for other topics; and
  • analyze feedback on recommended QEP topics and narrow down the suggestions to a short list of viable topics.

Phase 2: QEP Topic Selection

The purpose of this phase is to ensure that each of the selected topics is supported by a foundation of research and institutional assessment. To support these efforts, the planning committee will:

  • review survey results and analyze comments;
  • engage content specialists from among UCF’s faculty to develop background research on the topic areas and their potential for improving student learning;
  • examine the feasibility of topics (e.g., budgetary, human, and sustainability resource needs);
  • analyze our capability for measuring and assessing student learning outcomes and improvements;
  • identify external review/advisory committee members to evaluate the research reports and provide recommendations;
  • identify candidates to lead the QEP; and
  • recommend topics to President’s Leadership Team who will make the final selection.

Phase 3: QEP Development

While phases 1 and 2 examine the feasibility of the QEP topic, phase 3 involves developing the actual plan. A QEP Development Team will create the plan to be presented to SACSCOC; the plan will document the topic identification process, including relevant research on the topic, and will specify the student learning outcomes and assessment of the project’s initiatives to improve learning. The committee will craft a task plan for implementation, develop a multiyear budget for implementation and assessment, and design an implementation infrastructure. The design will include:

  • determining an appropriate time frame for implementation (three to four years);
  • developing a process to identify broad-based implementation actions;
  • developing an implementation matrix, including actions to be taken, objectives of each action, persons responsible, deliverables, outcomes and specific measures, budgets, and timelines;
  • developing a comprehensive assessment plan to measure improvements in student learning, including prescribed measures for all projects;
  • developing a management structure for implementation of the QEP that will ensure effective administration of the QEP, monitoring of progress, and consistent reporting; and
  • developing a management structure for implementation of the QEP that will ensure effective administration of the QEP, monitoring of progress, and consistent reporting; and
  • developing a system for the dissemination of information to ensure that the UCF community is aware of the QEP, its importance, and its progress.

Phase 4: QEP Pre-Implementation

After the QEP is approved internally, but before it is approved by or suggestions for changes are made by SACSCOC, it is important to conduct a pilot implementation and to build excitement on campus for the QEP. Actions will include:

  • modifying the proposed QEP based on suggestions from expert advisers or SACSCOC feedback;
  • identifying QEP implementation leadership (senior faculty member with significant interest in the QEP topic);
  • selecting faculty, staff, and students to identify and develop materials and to implement pilot projects to improve student performance for QEP learning outcomes;
  • utilizing existing events to assist faculty and staff with implementing the QEP;
  • implementing a QEP track in the Summer Faculty Development Conference to assist faculty in infusing QEP learning outcomes into syllabi;
  • determining and implementing a comprehensive system for data collection and analysis;
  • finalizing the QEP for submission to SACSCOC (September 2015) and for review by on-site SACSCOC committee (January and March 2016) based on feedback from committee; and
  • marketing the QEP to university community.

Phase 5: QEP Implementation

Once the QEP is approved by SACSCOC, its full implementation will begin immediately. Actions supporting implementation of the QEP will include:

  • activating implementation of the full management structure, including full-time director and staff;
  • identifying baseline values for all measures;
  • updating website for the QEP (from development to implementation); and
  • expanding marketing of the QEP to UCF community.