The Commission on Colleges (the Commission) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is the regional body for the accreditation of higher education institutions in the Southern states and Latin America that award associate, baccalaureate, master's, or doctoral degrees. Baylor is pursuing reaffirmation of its accreditation in 2005-2007.
The Commission's accrediting standards are contained in its handbook, Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement (Principles). The Principles were approved in 2001 and used in a pilot study in 2002-03. There are many new requirements and the self-evaluation process is quite different than the one used at Baylor in 1994-96.
Unlike in years past, there is no self-study document and no "must" statements. Rather, there are two reports: the Compliance Certification and the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The Compliance Certification is a large snapshot of Baylor and it presents much of the information captured in the old self-study (i.e. data regarding fiscal resources, governance issues, faculty credentials, and institutional effectiveness). The QEP, on the other hand, is a new requirement "used to outline a course of action for institutional improvement by addressing one or more issues that contribute to institutional quality, with special attention to student learning." (Principles, 2001). In essence, by January 2007, Baylor must create a plan that:
The review process has also changed significantly under the new Principles. There are now two rounds of peer review: the off-site committee reviews the Compliance Certification and the on-site committee reviews the QEP. The on-site committee evaluates the acceptability of the QEP and provides consultation regarding the issues it raises. At the conclusion of the visit, the on-site committee will prepare a written report of its findings, noting areas of non-compliance, and make a recommendation to the Commission regarding the institution's accreditation status. The Commission will vote on Baylor's reaffirmation and announce its decision in December 2007.