Three Tips For Acing Your Next Accreditation
Ace your career college’s accreditation and prove that your school is running according to policy with modern processes, a secure audit trail, and easily accessible cloud storage.
For schools across the country, a new year signals a new accreditation visit. Many schools feel that they’re prepared for their accreditation. Unfortunately, it’s often too late by the time they find out that they’re not.
One critical component of accreditation is proving that your school is running according to policy. It’s not enough to simply have a policy in place; you must prove that every instructor and administrator follows policy and applies it equally to every student. Accreditors can require over a dozen different policies regarding everything from attendance to leaves of absence.
NACCAS, for example, requires that schools have a Satisfactory Academic Progress policy. Proving that this policy is in place for every student requires accurate attendance, grade, and program progress data. When your school is using manual processes and piles of paper, it can quickly become daunting to prove that your school is running according to every one of your policies.
Here are three tips to ensure your career education program can prove it’s running according to policy.
Improve Your Processes
The most important step in preparing for an audit is ensuring that your school’s processes set your team up for success. Unfortunately, paper processes requiring manual data entry put your school at a disadvantage from the beginning.
Every time a human touches data, it’s susceptible to human error. If your administrators enter data from paper attendance sheets or type grades from your LMS into your SIS, you can’t guarantee accurate data. Even the best typists make errors, so when administrators enter hundreds of data points, the margin for error is high. Plus, attendance sheets don’t allow you to prove to accreditors that courses are starting and ending on time per school policy. Sure, instructors can tell you that classes are starting and ending on time, but if accreditors simply took your word for it across the board, there wouldn’t be any reason for an accreditation visit.
Digital attendance solutions, like CourseKey, help career colleges track attendance in real time and transfer data into the SIS—no manual data entry required. Eliminating manual data entry ensures that student records are one-hundred percent accurate. Plus, when your school uses a software solution that automatically updates your SIS, you eliminate the need for last-minute scrambling before your accreditation. Because you can see the exact time that every student checked in and out, you can prove to your accreditors that classes started and ended on time.
Secure Your Audit Trail
All the data in the world isn’t enough for accreditors if you can’t prove that it’s accurate. Unfortunately, if schools use paper and pen sign-in sheets, it’s nearly impossible to verify student identity. Accreditors cannot determine whether attendance policies are being met if they can’t verify student identity.
Schools may also use a biometric scanner and time clock to take attendance. Biometric scanners are great for identity verification, but adjusting hand scanner data eliminates a critical link in the audit trail. Auditors do not know why instructors or administrators edited a timestamp and cannot determine if that adjustment was according to policy.
In an attendance software like CourseKey, instructors are required to add notes to each time adjustment, explaining why they made that adjustment. Accreditors have a clear view of the rationale behind every time adjustment and have peace of mind knowing that nefarious time adjustments aren’t sliding under the radar. Additionally, attendance software can also verify identity using Face/Fingerprint ID on a student’s mobile device, giving schools all the security of a biometric scanner with improved data management.
Simplify Your Storage
Picture this: Your accreditor asks for 20% of your student records. Instead of going to your storage room, which may or may not be onsite, and pulling boxes and boxes of paper records to back up the data in your SIS, you easily export your records with the click of a button. If your accreditor asks for clarification on a specific student, you can easily export their entire lifecycle, with notes explaining every time adjustment or inconsistency.
With paper-based processes, all the records needed to prove the information in the SIS—total time awarded, grades, admissions, and financial materials—might all be separate paper documents stored in separate locations. Searching even the best-kept paper records is a pain, plus paper records are expensive to maintain and susceptible to damage—not to mention the papercuts!
But with cloud-based storage, your accreditation dreams can become a reality. Compliance teams no longer need to scramble to pull student records for audits; instead, teams can export student, course-wide, and school-wide data with just the click of a button to prove that every course is running according to policy.
Ace Your Accreditation
Accreditation and re-accreditation doesn’t have to be painful. By improving your processes, securing your audit trail, and backing it all up with cloud-based storage, your school better positions itself for a successful and less stressful accreditation process.
Request a demo If you’re interested in learning more about how CourseKey can help your school ace its next accreditation.