Frequently Asked Questions to Prepare for PTC’s On Site Accreditation Visit

October 23 -26, 2017

1. What is SACSCOC?

It is an acronym for our institutional accreditation agency: SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
SACSCOC accredits the institution as a whole and does not accredit individual programs. 

2. What does SACSCOC do?

The organization accredits institutions of higher education in the following 11 southern states: Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and Latin America. The Commission on Colleges is comprised of approximately 1200 colleges and universities. 

3. Where do I find the accrediting standards of the SACSCOC?

The Principles of Accreditation is the document that contains the core requirements, comprehensive standards, and federal requirements on which an institution is reviewed. The current version can be found at

4. What must a college do to be reaccredited?

There are two major tasks:
a. Submit a compliance certification document
b. Submit a quality enhancement plan

5. How often does an institution participate in institutional accreditation activities?

SACSCOC accredited institutions are reviewed every 10 years with a 5 year interim reporting requirement. Accreditation consists of ongoing activities related to institutional mission, facilities and technology, distance education, staff and faculty qualifications and adequacy, institutional effectiveness, governance, financial adequacy, institutional integrity, sufficient library resources, appropriate academic and student support services, academic freedom, admissions, employee evaluation, marketing, and recruitment efforts, leadership, governance and indications that the institution engages in continuous improvement through systematic evaluation of performance toward its mission.

6. Why is accreditation important to students?

Accreditation allows students to have access to federally-subsidized financial aid and ensures that the courses and degrees that students complete are recognized by other institutions. 

7. What is the purpose of the On-Site Visit on October 23-26, 2017?

a. To allow a group of community college peers to review institutional compliance with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation. These peers will specifically review our responses to the standards that we had to respond to following our off-site review, which were provided in our Focused Report. These reviewers will also assess our compliance to certain standards that have to be reviewed on site. 
b. To allow these same peers to serve as consultants regarding the Quality Enhancement Plan on Advising.

8. Who and how many people serve on a visiting team?

A visiting team is made of approximately 8 – 10 peers from other SACSCOC accredited institutions. The team will most likely include: a college president, someone from institutional effectiveness, a librarian, someone familiar with the SACSCOC faculty credentialing guidelines, someone with a finance background, a QEP Evaluator, someone from student services, someone from Academic Affairs, and the institutional liaison from the SACSCOC staff. 

9. What is a QEP?

A QEP is a five year quality enhancement plan focused on improving student learning or the environment surrounding student learning. It defines a course of action for institutional improvement.

10. How was the QEP selected?

The QEP was selected with broad-based input from the students, faculty and staff of the college and according to the QEP procedure of the college. 

11. What is the topic of PTC’s QEP?

Piedmont Technical College has developed a Quality Enhancement Plan, the CAREplan, designed to promote success for students seeking careers in healthcare through the redesign of the advising process specifically for these students. 
The goal of the CAREplan is to establish an environment where pre-program students in limited enrollment health science and nursing majors actively participate in the advising process to develop relationships, behaviors, and skills that lead to student success. 
Through a newly-designed guided pathway that will include early connection activities, a common first semester, and a required Health Care Careers course, students will start forming relationships with advisors, faculty and other students with similar career interests. In the CARE Planning Center, a designated centralized location for advising for pre-program health science and nursing students, students and advisors will collaboratively develop individualized degree plans. These students will participate in related student activities and leadership development through the establishment of a student organization for students pursuing careers in healthcare. Advisors will monitor student progress to program readiness, and students needing additional assistance will participate in a case management advising process. Career validation will be included into the Health Careers course as well as in each advising appointment. A critical component for effective advising, advisor training and support, will begin with face-to-face training of all pre-program health science and nursing advisors. Additionally, a competency-based online advisor training program will be developed and implemented, to provide advisors with access to individualized training based on their skill level and needs. The advisor training will incorporate NACADA core competencies and values.

12. What is the name of the governing board of the college?

The governing board of PTC is the PTC Area Commission. 

13. How can college employees further prepare for our on-site visit?

a. Become familiar with the operational plan and assessment reporting in your division, program, and department.
b. Become familiar with the institutional mission and related policies and procedures.
c. Become familiar with the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) on Advising

14. When will PTC know the outcome of the SACSCOC reaffirmation process?

The SACSCOC Board of Trustees will reaffirm the institution in June 2018.

15. Who is the SACSCOC liaison for PTC?

The SACSCOC liaison is Dr. Donna Foster. She has served as the liaison since 2012 and has experience as an Academic Dean, Program Department Head and Coordinator, SACSCOC Evaluator, and full time and part time instructor. 

16. Who is the SACSCOC staff liaison to PTC?

Dr. Charles A. Taylor is the SACSCOC staff member assigned to Piedmont Technical College. He has experience as a two year and four year college President and has held other positions in higher education.

17. Will off campus instructional sites (county campuses, high schools, EMS facilities) be visited during the On-Site Visit?

Yes, a subset of all instructional sites will be visited. The committee will be looking for evidence that the faculty and students at the sites
  • know the topic of the QEP
  • have adequate academic and student support services
  • have adequate access to library resources and staff
  • have adequate technology necessary for teaching and learning

18. How many branch campuses does PTC have?

None, all of the county campuses of the college are off campus instructional sites. SACSCOC defines a branch campus as a location of an institution that is geographically apart and independent of the main campus of the institution. A location is independent of the main campus if the location is 
• permanent in nature 
• offers courses in educational programs leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential 
• has its own faculty and administrative or supervisory organization and 
• has its own budgetary and hiring authority 

19. How many county campuses does PTC have?

Seven, the Center for Advanced Manufacturing is a part of the Laurens County Campus and is not a separately recognized campus per SACSCOC approval.

20. Many of the SACSCOC federal requirements exist because the U.S. Secretary of Education recognizes accreditation by SACSCOC in establishing the eligibility of its accredited institutions to participate in programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education ACT (HEA), as amended, and other federal programs.

Federal Statutes include mandates that the Commission review an institution in accordance with criteria outlined in the federal regulations developed by the US Department of Education.

How many federal requirements are there and what topics are addressed?

There are 9 federal requirements in the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation. They address:
  • student achievement
  • program curriculum
  • publication of policies on academic calendars, grading policies, and refund policies
  • program length
  • written student complaints and demonstration of following procedures associate with these
  • recruitment materials
  • Title IV program responsibilities
  • distance and correspondence education
  • Definition of credit hours