Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Larry H. Ebbers


Iowa is one of the few states in the nation that is required by law to have a formalized process that accredits its community colleges. In February of 2005, the Iowa Department of Education's (DE) Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation began a comprehensive review of the state accreditation process for Iowa's community colleges. This review was prompted by major changes in the criteria and processes of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools - Higher Learning Commission (NCA-HLC) which was effective in January of 2005;The purpose of this case study was to collect, document, and analyze the data used to revise the state accreditation process so it would align more effectively with the revisions of the NCA-HLC to include their new criteria, core components, patterns of evidence and the accreditation processes---Program to Evaluate Academic Quality (PEAQ) and Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). In addition, the revision includes state standards that are mandated through state legislation;The themes that were identified in the research were supported by multiple perspectives of the sample, documentation and the literature. Major themes identified through the study were: (a) Accreditation is a process that assures a minimum threshold of quality in higher education; (b) AQIP is becoming the preferred NCA-HLC Accreditation process among Iowa community colleges; (c) DE accreditation process for Iowa's community colleges should align more closely with the NCA-HLC processes and include both PEAQ and AQIP; and (d) state accreditation process adds value to Iowa's community colleges. Minor themes identified through the study were: (a) state standards referenced in the Code of Iowa need to be included in the state accreditation process; (b) assessment of student learning is an integral part of the accreditation process; and (c) state accreditation process enables community colleges to share best practice and benchmarks with peer institutions;The results of the study supported revisions to the Iowa Administrative Rules that support Iowa Code sections 260C.47 - Accreditation of community college programs and 260C.48 - Standards for accrediting community college programs. In addition, research findings support revisions to the current Guide for State Accreditation of Iowa Community Colleges.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Jan Erickson Snyder



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191 pages