Public Disclosure Statement

Potomac College

March 3, 2011

By the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

This statement has been developed for use in responding to public inquiries, consistent with the Commission’s policy on Public Communication in the Accrediting Process. It should be read in conjunction with the Statement of Accreditation Status for Potomac College.

Potomac College, located in Washington DC, has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education since 2006. Potomac College is a private for-profit institution offering programs leading to Certificates/Diplomas and Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees. It operates a branch campus in Herndon, Virginia. A summary of the most recent Commission actions relative to the institution’s accreditation follows.

Current Accreditation Status

On March 3, 2011, the Commission removed probation from Potomac because of progress to date and evidence of the institution's capacity to make appropriate improvements within a reasonable period of time, but warned the institution that its accreditation may be in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard 7 (Institutional Assessment). The full text of the Commission’s action is provided below.

Potomac College remains accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education while on warning.

The Commission places an institution on warning when, in the Commission’s judgment, the institution is not in compliance with one or more of the Commission’s accreditation standards. The Commission’s specific concern regarding Potomac College is related to Standard 7 (Institutional Assessment), which states, “The institution has developed and implemented an assessment process that evaluates its overall effectiveness in achieving its mission and goals and its compliance with accreditation standards.”  The Commission’s standards are available online at http://www.msche.org/publications/CHX06_Aug08REVMarch09.pdf

When the Commission warns an institution, it believes that, although the institution is out of compliance, the institution has the capacity both to make appropriate improvements within a reasonable period and to sustain itself in the long term. A follow-up report, called a monitoring report, is required to demonstrate that the institution has made appropriate improvements to bring itself into compliance.  A special visit follows to verify institutional status and progress. 

Summary of Recent Commission Actions

In 2006, the Middle States Commission granted accreditation to Potomac College and requested the first in a series of follow-up reports. Follow-up reports requested by the Commission between 2006 and 2008 concerned Standards 2 (Planning, Resource Allocation, and Institutional Renewal), 3 (Institutional Resources, specifically physical sites), 9 (Student Services), 11 (Educational Offerings, specifically information literacy), 13 (Related Educational Offerings, specifically distance learning programs), and 14 (Assessment of Student Learning).

On June 25, 2009, the Commission warned the institution that its accreditation might be in jeopardy because of a lack of evidence that the institution was currently in compliance with Standard 2 (Planning, Resource Allocation, and Institutional Renewal) and Standard 14 (Assessment of Student Learning).

On June 24, 2010, the Commission placed the institution on probation because of a lack of evidence that the institution was in compliance with Standards 2 (Planning, Resource Allocation, and Institutional Renewal) and 14 (Assessment of Student Learning). It requested a report documenting evidence that the institution has achieved and can sustain compliance with Standards 1 (Mission and Goals), 2 (Planning, Resource Allocation, and Institutional Renewal), 4 (Leadership and Governance), 5 (Administration), 7 (Institutional Assessment), and 14 (Assessment of Student Learning. A small team visit followed submission of the report

On March 3, 2011, the Commission acted as follows:

 To accept the monitoring report, to thank the institution for receiving the Commission's representatives, and to commend the institution for progress to date in bringing the institution into compliance with Commission standards.

 To remove probation because of progress to date and evidence of the institution's capacity to make appropriate improvements within a reasonable period of time, but to warn the institution that its accreditation may be in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard 7 (Institutional Assessment).

 To extend the period for demonstrating compliance by nine months, for good cause, because the institution is making a good faith effort to remedy existing deficiencies and a reasonable expectation exists that such deficiencies will be remedied within the period of extension. To note that warning is a less serious action than probation; it indicates that the Commission believes that, although the institution is out of compliance, the institution has the capacity to make appropriate improvements within a reasonable period of time and the institution has the capacity to sustain itself in the long term. To further note that the institution remains accredited while on warning.

To request a monitoring report, due September 1, 2011, documenting compliance with Standard 7 (Institutional Assessment), including but not limited to documented evidence of (1) assessment of overall effectiveness in achieving mission and institutional goals, (2) clearly stated quantitative or qualitative outcomes, distinct from strategies, that clearly and purposefully relate to each institutional goal, and (3) periodic analysis and use of key outcomes measures for each institutional goal by institutional leaders to inform plans, resource allocations, and improvements.  A small team visit will follow submission of the monitoring report. Action on the report and visit will be taken at the Commission's November 2011 meeting.

 To direct an immediate staff visit to discuss the Commission's expectations. To direct the institution to commence self-study immediately after participation in the Fall 2011 Self-Study Institute. The next evaluation visit is scheduled for 2013-14, pending Commission reaffirmation of accreditation.

Current Status and Expected Activities   

Potomac College remains accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education while on warning.   

Following submission of a monitoring report on September 1, 2011, the Commission will conduct a small team visit to assess the institution’s compliance with the Commission’s standards.  Following the on-site visit, a report by the visiting team will be completed. The monitoring report, the small team report and the institutional response to the small team report will be considered by the Committee on Follow-Up Activities and by the Commission at its November 2011 meeting.

At its November 2011 session, the Commission will take further action, in accordance with the Commission’s policy, Range of Commission Actions on Accreditation (available at http://www.msche.org/documents/P2.3-RangeofActions.doc). If, based on the monitoring report and small team report, the Commission determines that Potomac College has made appropriate progress in addressing the cited concerns, the Commission may act to remove the warning and reaffirm accreditation.  If the Commission determines that progress sufficient to demonstrate compliance with its accreditation standards has not been made, the Commission may take further action as allowed under the Range of Commission Actions on Accreditation. 

For More Information

The following resources provide additional information that may be helpful in understanding the Commission’s actions and Potomac College’s accreditation status:

Statement of Accreditation Status for Potomac College (http://www.msche.org/institutions_directory.asp) provides factual information about Potomac College and the full text of the Commission’s recent actions regarding the institution.

Characteristics of Excellence (http://www.msche.org/publications/CHX06_Aug08REVMarch09.pdf) provides the Commission’s accreditation standards and requirements for affiliation.

Media Backgrounder (http://msche.org/documents/Media-Backgrounder-2010.doc) answers questions about accreditation such as “What is accreditation?” and “What is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education?”

Informing the Public about Accreditation (www.chea.org/public_info/index.asp), published by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, provides additional information on the nature and value of accreditation.

Public Communication in the Accrediting Process (www.msche.org/documents/P4.1-PublicCommunication.doc) explains what information the Commission makes public regarding its member institutions and what information remains confidential.

Range of Commission Actions on Accreditation (www.msche.org/documents/P2.3-RangeofActions.doc) and Standardized Language for Commission Actions on Accreditation (www.msche.org/documents/P2.4-StandardizedLanguage_031308.doc) explain the terms used in the Commission’s actions.