Validating & Sharing Accreditation Reports
St. Olaf College is a small liberal arts school located in Northfield, Minnesota. By fall of 2015, its education programs had already received their specialized accreditation, and the department was ready to tackle their unit audit. Dr. Heather Campbell, Associate Professor and Director of Assessment for the Education Department, was tasked with compiling an institutional report for the Minnesota Board of Teaching (MnBOT) required for their state review. After diligently collecting key assessment, course evaluation, employer and alumni survey, and field experience data in Tk20 to substantiate state standards, Heather was able to successfully prepare and share a finalized report utilizing the Accreditation Management module.
St. Olaf’s top priorities were data aggregation, linking evidence, and sharing the report. Compiling data for the previous visit’s report, which occurred six years earlier, was “horribly painful and taxing” due to the need to manually aggregate evidence collected via a paper based system. St. Olaf was also responsible for manually creating a website for the accreditation visit as they were required to share their report and evidence electronically.
The first step towards writing a substantiated report was utilizing Tk20 to streamline the data collection process. St. Olaf began implementing key assessments, surveys, field experience evaluations, edTPA portfolios, and course evaluations. This was a massive departmental advancement from painstakingly collecting and aggregating evidence by hand from multiple paper sources. With the data collection process firmly established, Heather was ready to begin responding to state standards.
The next step towards tackling the report began with a customized reporting template. By using MnBOT standards and Tk20 best practices as a guideline, a product consultant was able to quickly customize and finalize a template for St. Olaf’s response needs. The convenient turn around allowed St. Olaf to begin compiling evidence and substantiating the report shortly thereafter. The template was most useful since it provided the foundational report structure and accounted for all standards. This allowed the institution to primarily focus on their response rather than stumbling over a clumsy reporting framework or worrying about formatting the report.
After the template was finalized, the responses to each standard were ready to be complied. St. Olaf heavily utilized Tk20’s evidence room to store substantiating documents generated both internal and external to Tk20. Collecting data, aggregating data, and storing the finalized reports in one place made a solid foundation from which to build the final product. The evidence feature provided access to reviewers for the documents referred to in the response text. Heather exported the report as a PDF file to satisfy report file type requirements. A shared site was additionally provided as a recommended method to navigate the report. The shared site, conveniently generated by Tk20, came equipped with a sharable link, an interactive table of contents, and an evidence area for each response which ultimately made for a seamless and intuitive navigation experience for the MnBOT report reviewers. In late April of 2016, St. Olaf’s Education Department underwent their MnBOT site visit. They were thrilled to report not only a successful site visit but an overwhelming positive response from the report reviewers on the ease of accessing the report and evidence from the shared site