ASCC to host WASC Senior Commission site visit — this weekend
Over this weekend, the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) will host a site visit by a four-person team representing the Senior Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The team’s purpose is to review the four-year components of the College’s Teacher Education Department (TED), marking one of the major steps leading to the TED becoming the first accredited four-year program at ASCC.
As one of the main regional accrediting bodies in the United States, WASC utilizes two divisions, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (ACSCU), also known as the Senior Commission.
In its history of offering nationally recognized two-year Associate of Arts degrees, ASCC has interacted primarily with the ACCJC, but as it transitions the TED to a four-year program, the College needs “joint accreditation” from both the ACCJC and the ACSCU.
The ACCJC has previously accredited the two-year program at ASCC in its entirety, including the TED classes up to the 200 level, but to secure accreditation for the new 300 and 400 level TED classes requires separate reviews by the ACSCU, the first of which will take place this weekend.
The visiting ACSCU team will consist of R. Richard Winn, Vice President of the WASC Senior Commission; Dr. Aubyn S. Fulton, Professor of Psychology at Pacific Union College; Dr. Jonathan V. McKee, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at University of Hawaii Maui College; and Dr. Richard R. Rush, President of California State University, Channel Islands.
During their visit, they will review the TED program itself, as well as the academic and administrative structures in place to support it. The team will then report their findings to the WASC Senior Commission, who will then decide whether to grand ASCC Candidacy for Accreditation.
If this weekend’s ACSCU visit ultimately yields a favorable decision from the Senior Commission, then the final step in accrediting the ASCC TED four-year program will be a second site visit to possibly take place later this year.
While that final step still lies ahead, ASCC Accreditation Liaison Officer and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Kathleen Kolhoff-Belle emphasized the importance of the current visit. "Should we be granted Candidate for Accreditation status, then third and fourth year B.Ed. students will become eligible for Pell Grant financial aid, so this will clear the way for many students to pursue a Bachelor's Degree here at home," she explained.
As ASCC finalized preparation for this weekend’s very important site visit, Dr. Kolhoff-Belle reflected, “We have worked very hard to develop the B.Ed. Program for many years. We are looking forward to this major step of Candidacy for Accreditation and we’re thankful to the WASC Senior Commission and the ACCJC for their assistance in reaching this milestone."
TED Director Dr. Lina Galea’i-Scanlan added, “This visit will have a tremendous impact on overall teacher preparation in our Territory. The entire TED staff has worked hard to develop curricula that is reflective of the best teaching practices, and utilizes current research and technology to provide both pre-service and in-service teachers with the needed professional development for them to become highly qualified for the learning environment in American Samoa.”