Archive for the 'Accreditation' Category


July 30th, 2008 | Category: Accreditation, Technology

So why did eLearning Pundit post the story about TSTC in Second Life first?  I have been traveling!  Last week I went to Florence-Darlington Technical College in Florence, SC.  We visited the new Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SiMT).  It is a truly awesome facility.  Please visit the link.

For the last five days I have been in Orlando at the SACS COC Summer Institute.  It was very informative and has helped me get a handle on the requirements I wrote about as an even newer administrator in December (here and here)

I will posting more about both of these soon.

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The Tennessean Continues Series on For-Profit Schools

The article is another good one. Money quote:

Degree and diploma programs can vary wildly in price among for-profit schools, and those prices can look even higher when compared with public schools.

According to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at ITT Technical Institute costs about $72,900.

That same degree costs roughly half — $36,890 — at University of Phoenix. And at Middle Tennessee State University, the same degree would cost about $21,000 for in-state students.

Also, be sure to check out this PDF comparing costs.

(via e-Learning Pundit)

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Update - Texas Tech Univ. SACS Probation

March 09th, 2008 | Category: Accreditation

Here is some more interesting background on the probation that I blogged about before.

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Daytime TV and Proprietary Schools

February 26th, 2008 | Category: Accreditation, Proprietary Schools

OK - I’m beginning to feel better and most of today I was able to spend at least somewhat upright. but not very active. The result is that I’ve  seen proprietary school commercials all day long. ITT Tech alone runs television ads several times an hour on different stations. I can’t begin to imagine how much that must cost. Of course, we know who is paying for it.

Now, I’m not saying that I disbelieve the testimonials or think that proprietary schools are all bad. I do believe that they are not the best choice for almost everyone who attends. Better and much more cost effective technical education is available elsewhere. It is available in regionally accredited colleges that offer transferable credits. It is available without creating a huge debt burden for the student because those colleges are taxpayer supported.

Of course, technical colleges and community college technical programs can’t put commercials on TV several times an hour.  If they did, they couldn’t afford to continue offering high-quality technical education at an affordable price.

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Diploma Mill or Not?

February 21st, 2008 | Category: Accreditation, General

More on Proprietary School Costs

The e-Learning Pundit links to my earlier post on the cost of technical education. The linking post covers the new laws requiring more oversight and reporting in the “for-profit” education sector in Tennessee. Read the post for some more thoughts on cost.

While you are there, look around. The rest of the site has some very interesting information about online programs, accreditation, and costs.

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The Cost of Technical College

I ran across this cost comparison at the City Colleges of Chicago site. It shows the difference between their associate degree, Devry, a private college, and a prominent proprietary school. The proprietary schools are a pet peeve of mine.

I had the opportunity to examine an outlet of a well-known private tech school chain as a member of a site visit team. The facilities were OK and the teachers seemed fairly dedicated. After looking at the curriculum, I don’t think they were getting close to the education they could have gotten at our college. I am certain that at least some of the students were learning enough to get a job. What concerns me is this - The credits are not transferable and the cost is enormous.

Graduates come out owing well over $30,000 and with no way to take those credits and apply them to a BA or BS later. Our automotive instructors tell me that high school students committed to a proprietary auto tech school will refuse to reconsider because they have paid a $100 application fee. Saving that $100 will eventually cost them an extra $25,000 before interest. It will cost even more if the lack of a BA makes promotion impossible. (Insert your thoughts about the state of economics and financial education here.)

If you are a high school CTE teacher, please develop a relationship with good, solid, public college technical programs through articulation, dual credit, information sessions, visits, shadowing, industry contact, and scholarships. Don’t let your students wind up paying back $40,000 or $50,000 after interest for an inferior education.

Be sure your students understand where the proprietary school recruiter got the money for his tailored suit and BMW.

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Technical Education and Gender

On Friday I responded to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) regarding “non-traditional” gender make-up in our technical programs. The target is to increase female students in subjects like automotive or welding technologies and male students in areas such as dental assisting .25% per year until they equal 25% of program participants. We not only failed to increase during the reporting period, we actually lost ground.

Despite having turned this around in some areas in Fall 2007, I am not very confident about reaching 25% in any of the identified areas. I gave the THECB a list of strategies which I fully intend to pursue, but I can’t help the feeling that I am fighting a forest fire with a water pistol.

We have been pursuing female-oriented marketing, recruiting and support strategies for a number of years without discovering a vast cache of women wannabe welders. These are good jobs with excellent pay and employers have been open to women in non-traditional fields. In fact, my experience indicates that a male dental assistant would face more turbulence than a female air conditioning tech.

Is it nature or nurture? I am reminded of those idealistic parents who provided only “neutral” toys to their boys and girls, only to find the girls making dolls from cloth and the boys using sticks as guns. Are we wasting our time in either case? I don’t doubt that males and females can do any of these jobs – but do they want to?

Are there are examples of successful non-traditional gender recruiting and retention programs extant?

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SACS Puts Texas Tech on Probation

December 13th, 2007 | Category: Accreditation

Let me be clear - Texas Tech University in Lubbock is on probation, not Texas State Technical College Waco where I work. It seems that Texas Tech did not manage to assess their competencies in time for the New Orleans conference where the reaccreditation announcements were made. The article is in the Dallas Morning News is here. I mention this mainly because it shows how serious SACS is about those Gen Ed competencies and assessment (see earlier post).

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Bye Bye, Bayou

December 11th, 2007 | Category: Accreditation

I’m back home (momentarily). We are leaving tonight for Aiken Technical College in South Carolina (with an overnight in Dallas along the way). I wanted to summarize what I saw at the SACS COC conference:

  1. COC President Dr. Belle Wheelan is a wonderful speaker. She seems to enjoy her job and I think that she is moving the commission in the right direction. If you get a chance to hear her speak, you should take it.
  2. SACS accreditation changes are driving a lot of good thinking and rethinking of how we focus on student learning. Those changes are also making enough people nervous about their next SACS visit to drive attendance at the conference. They set a record with 3800 attendees in New Orleans. (participants list available here)
  3. The COC is working to clear up some language in legislation that both houses of Congress are working on right now. That language seems to give a greater role to the Department of Education in accreditation matters than anyone in higher education would desire.
  4. This was my first trip to New Orleans. It is an interesting and different place. I think it is worth a visit for historical, architectural, culinary, and musical reasons. I would like to go back again when I can spend more time visiting restaurants and listening to blues and jazz bands. (Check out New Orleans station WWOZ online).

I attended some important sessions on SACS “substantive change” procedures and electronic portfolios, but the focus of SACS on continuous improvement in student learning outcomes was most interesting to me.

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“General Education” Outcomes and TechEd

December 08th, 2007 | Category: Academic Skills, Accreditation, Technical Education Awareness

I went to a couple of very interesting presentations today at the SACS COC conference here in The Big Easy. Both sessions dealt with creating general education goals (outcomes/expectations), infusing them into the system, and measuring success. I am very interested in the application of those methods to general technical education outcomes.

My informal statement of overall goals for our students at TSTC Waco is this:
“Our graduates should exhibit the behavior, attitudes, and skills of a professional technician.”

When I broke that down for our students at orientation, I included trouble-shooting, love for your field, learning behavior, communication skills, troubleshooting skills, honesty/ethics, and customer-service focus. It turns out that most of those things are really close to what liberal arts institutions call General Education Goals or Expectations.

I find this interesting because it helps provide a unified theme, consistent message, and persistent reinforcement for these behaviors, skills and attitudes throughout the technical college experience. It certainly includes academic as well as technical courses (see earlier post on “the great divide”). The second session indicated that we should be considering how our co-curricular activities help our students meet these goals as well. Yes – Student Development (or Student Affairs, or Student Life, or whatever they have thought to call it on your campus) can be involved in the educational process in more than just a supporting role.

All of this is driven by the SACS requirements and it makes sense:

3.3.1 - The institution identifies expected outcomes for its educational programs and its administrative and educational support services; assesses whether it achieves these outcomes; and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of those results.

3.5.1 - The institution identifies college-level competencies within the general education core and provides evidence that graduates have attained those competencies.

All of this may have been obvious to everyone but me, but I’ve had a pretty educational day.


I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

December 07th, 2007 | Category: Accreditation, General

Well, OK, I actually flew - but I’m still in New Orleans. This is my first time here, so I can’t compare pre-Katrina with post-Katrina. I’m here for the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) Commission on Colleges “112th Annual Meeting.” I’ll update later on any revelations it contains for post-secondary technical education.

Next week I am off to visit Aiken Technical College in South Carolina. I am certain that trip will also yield a lot of useful information. It is always interesting to see how other colleges do things.

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