|Abstract or Summary
- Higher education is being asked to address issues of quality, accountability, and transparency. Accreditation is one tool higher education institutions use to address these concerns. The purpose of this quantitative study was to analyze the impact of the new accreditation standards adopted by the Northwest Commission for Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) as they related to Washington State community colleges. This study was based on the perceptions of Washington State community college administrators regarding NWCCU's new regional accreditation standards incorporating a continuous quality improvement model. Cross-sectional survey research was used to gather data from Washington State community colleges reaccredited under the new NWCCU standards. An electronic link to the questionnaire was emailed to 271 community college administrators at 10 Washington State community colleges. The questionnaire, adapted from an instrument used by Hollingsworth (2010), was aligned with seven research questions. The adapted instrument used a Likert-scale design consisting of 23 questions, six open-ended questions, and four demographic questions. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, pre-data analysis screening and an individual analysis of each research question. Inferential statistics used in this research were a one-sample t test, the Spearman rho correlation, and a one-way ANOVA analysis. This research demonstrates the positive perceptions of Washington State community college administrators about NWCCU's new regional accreditation standards. The majority of administrators agreed that the new standards and the new process help institutions achieve institutional quality improvement, enhance institutional communications, and increase faculty and staff awareness of the institution’s mission and core theme objectives. Administrators agreed that their institutions continued to seek information campus-wide for improvement even though the reaccreditation process was complete. School size, number of years being involved in higher education accreditation or job title did not significantly impact administrator perceptions regarding accreditation. This study contributes to on-going national dialogue about the value of regional accreditation. The new accreditation standards adopted by the Northwest Commission for Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) are perceived by administrators participating in the accreditation process in Washington State as a method to demonstrate quality, accountability, and transparency.