Eight months until SACSCOC on-site visit: Student achievement at its core

Published: June 16, 2022

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With only eight months until Auburn’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges, or SACSCOC, visits campus for our on-site review, we are highlighting Section Eight of our Compliance Certification Report, which focuses exclusively on student achievement. This core requirement asks us to identify, evaluate and publish goals and outcomes for student achievement. For the first time, we are also required to disaggregate those results to reveal more detailed patterns. This cycle, Auburn has elected to explore trends across the dimensions of race and gender. In other words, this core requirement ensures that Auburn University evaluates whether it offers appropriate academic and student services to support student success in targeted and nuanced ways.

In many ways, this core requirement is the heart of any university’s accreditation because it centers students in the review. Student learning and achievement are at the core of Auburn University’s mission of “improving the lives of the people of Alabama, the nation and the world through forward-thinking education.” The importance of this aspiration also makes it one of the hardest to evaluate. How do you measure “student achievement” in meaningful ways that also enable you to identify areas for improvement? Ultimately, the challenge becomes less about providing graduation and retention rates and more about showing how we measure and, crucially, address all types of achievement gaps. Making real progress to improve the long-term outcomes for our students requires true self-reflection and a change in culture across campus.

Through collaborations with numerous individuals and campus partners, we have begun writing about several key initiatives, events, scholarships and programs that all help address achievement gaps across various student demographics. One example of a new initiative is Tiger Takeoff, which is hosted by the Office of Inclusion and Diversity and Enrollment Management. This two-day experience offers meaningful social, cultural and educational activities to prospective students from historically underrepresented and underserved backgrounds. JuWan Robinson, deputy chief diversity officer in the Office of Inclusion and Diversity shared, “In partnership with Enrollment Management, we are proud of what we learned during the pilot year of Tiger Takeoff in 2021. Engaging in a pilot experience provided us the insights needed to inform this year's, and future years’, program using a data-informed and continuous improvement approach toward our goals.” Continuous improvement is at the heart of SACSCOC’s Principles of Accreditation, making Tiger Takeoff exactly the kind of partnership we hope to champion in this year’s reaffirmation activities.

Of course, student success can be captured in many ways, so Auburn will be required to use and publish multiple measures of our progress for self-reflection and improvement. Although many of these findings are favorable and assure us that Auburn University is a premier institution, there are always areas where Auburn Tigers of all stripes can be better served. While the Compliance Certification Report, due in early September 2022, is only a snapshot of where Auburn University stands at the moment, it also offers us a chance to see where we excel, where we fall short, and how we can improve in fulfilling our Mission and serving the people of Alabama.

Mark DeGoti, Auburn’s SACSCOC Liaison, is confident in his team’s approach to Core Requirement 8.1. “Auburn University has much to be proud of in terms of student success,” he shared, “and we are excited to continue this excellent work and ensure compliance with this SACSCOC Core Requirement, both for this and the next ten-year reaccreditation report.”

For more about Auburn’s accreditation efforts, visit our website

Submitted by: Mark DeGoti