ASCC granted candidacy by WASC towards B.Ed. Degree

The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) received word last week that it has been granted Candidacy for accreditation of its Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) program by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WASC ACSCU). The Commission has also scheduled a review for Initial Accreditation of the ASCC B.Ed. program for spring 2013.

“Being granted Candidacy by WASC ACSCU confirms that ASCC is on the path to full accreditation of our Bachelor degree in Teacher Education”, explained ASCC President Dr. Seth Galea’i, who received written notice of the decision last week. “It also means our students in the program, including those taking 300 and 400 level classes, are eligible for federal financial aid. With the granting of Candidacy for the B.Ed., students in the program are working towards a degree that is recognized by WASC Senior Colleges and by the U.S. Department of Education.”

The letter from the Commission stated that it had based the decision on the report by a WASC ACSCU team who spent two days at the College this past April to evaluate the program’s effectiveness and readiness for Candidacy, as well as the College’s own Self Evaluation Report submitted prior to the team’s arrival. It further conveyed that the most recent visiting WASC ACSCU team report reflected a high level of satisfaction with the consistency and quality of the leadership support, both from the College and from government agencies, reflected in the development of the B.Ed. degree program.

The team also affirmed the qualifications and commitment of the ASCC faculty over an extended period of time as the program was created. “The close linkage of the program with the urgent needs of the schools and with the rich cultural heritage of the Samoan society were also appreciated,” said the letter signed by WASC ACSCU President Ralph A. Wolff.

ASCC has made steady progress towards the accreditation of the B.Ed. program for the past several years, and maintained professional relations with both the WASC ACSCU and its counterpart the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (WASC ACCJC). The College has pursued a “joint accreditation” arrangement whereby its normal curriculum leading to Associate of Arts (AA) degrees and certificates will continue under the auspices of the WASC ACCJC while the B.Ed. program will be overseen by the WASC ACSCU.

As part of the process towards accreditation of the B.Ed. program, ASCC has worked to demonstrate that the program is satisfactorily structured for Teacher Education students to complete their graduation requirements. The first two ASCC students to complete the program, Selutoga Fuiava and Tasia Talamoni, received their B.Ed. degrees at the end of the spring 2012 semester. Although the program awaits full accreditation, the degrees of Fuiava and Talamoni are still fully recognized under the existing arrangement with WASC.

This past April, a WASC ACSCU visiting team consisting of Dr. 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 spent two days at ASCC reviewing the B.Ed. program.  As part of their exit interview, their Commendations focused on the College’s identification of educational needs in American Samoa, its role in education in the Pacific region, its utilization of technology, and its cooperative spirit with WASC. The team also recognized the financial support of the College by the American Samoa Government.

Recommendations included that ASCC should “stay the course” in the accreditation process and continue to “bring to maturity” its assessment strategy.  The WASC ACSCU also conducted a follow-up conference-call interview with members of the ASCC Teacher Education Department (TED) in June, all of which culminated in the welcome news that the Commission had granted Candidacy to the B.Ed. program.

With the next visit by the WASC ACSCU scheduled for spring of next year, ASCC continues to nurture its Teacher Education curriculum in anticipation of full accreditation.

“The TED has enjoyed a slow but steady increase in enrollment as more students become aware that they now have the option of earning a Bachelor degree without going overseas,” said Dr. Galea’i. “As we prepare for the final visit in the accreditation process for our B.Ed. program, I commend our TED under the leadership of Dr. Lina Galea’i-Scanlan for their tireless attention to WASC standards, and I thank the faculty, administration and staff for the hospitality with which they always receive the visiting WASC teams.

I also thank Chairman Uta Dr. Laloulu Tagoilelagi and the Board of Higher Education for their leadership and guidance through this process. The work we’re doing now will have a significant impact on education in American Samoa for many years to come.”


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