Quality Enhancement Plan
Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a requirement of SACS-COC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges) for institutions seeking reaffirmation of accreditation. The QEP is a carefully designed course of action that addresses a well-defined and focused topic or issue related to enhancing student learning.
The Goals and Evaluation Strategies of the QEP need to be clearly and directly linked to improving the quality of student learning. The QEP is a project that is designed to enhance learning.
- Focus of the Narrative – The SACS-COC Compliance Certification focuses on the past and the present. The QEP focuses on the future.
- Retention is not a topic for the QEP, but it can be an outcome.
QEP Requirements and Standards
- SACS-COC Core Requirement 2.12: The institution has developed an acceptable Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that includes an institutional process for identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment and focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution.
- SACS-COC Comprehensive Standard 3.3.2: The institution has developed a Quality Enhancement Plan that (1) demonstrates institutional capability for the initiation, implementation, and completion of the QEP; (2) includes broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies in the development and proposed implementation of the QEP; and (3) identifies goals and a plan to assess their achievement.
QEP Committee and QEP Development
QEP Steering Committee Structure: Often QEP Steering Committees establish sub-committees to focus on particular aspects of the development process, such as:
- Literature Review (The QEP needs to be research based.)
- Strategies for Professional Development
- Assessment Plan
- Marketing Plan
Nine Steps to Developing a QEP:
- Step 1 - Selecting a topic
- Step 2 - Defining the Student Learning Outcomes (outcomes specific to the project, like a grant proposal)
- Step 3 - Researching the topic (include research in plan)
- Step 4 – Identifying the actions to be implemented (include timeline)
- Step 5 – Establishing a timeline for implementation (list all activities)
- Step 6 – Organizing for success (infrastructure necessary for implementation and continuation of the QEP)
- Step 7 – Identifying necessary resources (facilities; staffing; technology; budget)
- Step 8 – Assessing the success of the QEP (specific measurements; preservation and analysis of data)
- Step 9 – Preparing the QEP for submission (both electronic & paper)
- An Institutional Process: The institution uses an institutional process for identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment. Indicators are used to evaluate the acceptability of the QEP.
- Focus on the Plan: The institution identifies a significant issue that (1) focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and (2) accomplishes the mission of the institution.
- Institutional capability for the initiation, implementation, and completion of the plan: The institution provides evidence that is has sufficient resources to initiate, implement, sustain, and complete the QEP.
- Broad-based Involvement of Institutional Constituencies: The institution demonstrates the involvement of its constituencies in the development and proposed implementation of the Plan.
- Assessment of the Plan: The institution identifies goals and a plan to assess the achievement of those goals.
QEP On-Site Evaluator and On-Site Committee
1. Lead Evaluator Nomination: An institution conducting its review leading to reaffirmation of accreditation is expected to nominate a candidate to serve as the lead QEP evaluator on the On-Site Review Committee.
2. The Lead Evaluator:
- Can come from outside the Southern Association region (not always wise)
- Does not have to be employed by a college or university
- Should not have any personal or professional relationship (such as a past consultant) with the institution or its personnel.
- Should have special expertise in relation to the QEP.
- Should have no conflict of interest in connection with the evaluation.
3. The On-Site Committee is responsible for evaluating the acceptability of the QEP
and confirming that it is part of an ongoing planning and evaluation process.
4. The On-Site Committee’s report on the QEP provides a framework for:
- Analyzing the extent to which the institution has provided evidence that it is committed to a course of action that addresses a topic or issue to improve the quality of student learning.
- Providing advice and consultation to assist the institution in strengthening its QEP.
5. Eight Relevant Questions for the On-Site Committee To Ask:
- Has the institution identified and provided a clear and concise description of a significant issue(s) directly related to student learning?
- What are the goals of the QEP (list goals and outcomes) and how do they relate to student learning?
- What are the intended benefits (retention, computer literacy, etc.) of the QEP to the institution and to the student?
- What resources (personnel, financial, physical, academic, etc.) are necessary for the successful implementation of the QEP?
- How will the progress of the QEP be monitored? (timelines, administrative buy-in, oversight by qualified individuals, etc.)
- What are the evaluation strategies identified by the institution that will determine the success of the institution’s QEP? How will the evaluation findings be used to improve student learning?
- How has the QEP been integrated into the institution’s ongoing planning and evaluation process (e.g., discipline goals)?
- How has the institution demonstrated that a cross section of its community has been involved in the development of the QEP?
6. On-Site Committee’s Report consists of three parts:
- A brief description of the QEP
- An evaluation of the acceptability of the QEP (SACS Core Requirement 2.12)
- A section to highlight the strengths of the QEP and to provide advice for strengthening the QEP (SACS Comprehensive Standard 3.3.2)
1. Part V of the Fifth-Year Interim Report: The Impact Report of the QEP:
- Report demonstrating the extent to which the QEP has affected outcomes related to student learning.
- Not to exceed 10 pages, including narrative and appendices.
2. Elements of Impact Report:
- Title and brief description of QEP as initially presented.
- Succinct list of initial goals and intended outcomes of QEP.
- Discussion of changes made to QEP and reasons for making changes.
- Description of QEP’s direct impact on student learning, including the achievement of goals and outcomes and any unanticipated outcomes.
3. Directions to the SACS-COC Committee on Fifth-Year Interim Reports for Review of the QEP Impact Report:
- Read the institution’s QEP Impact Report.
- Select one of these two options:
a. Accept with comment.
b. Refer to C & R (Committee on Compliance & Reports). Additional report requested.
4. Accept with Comment
- The Institution provided:
a. Adequate documentation of the implementation of the QEP, along with any changes made.
b. Adequate documentation of the assessment of the QEP’s impact on student learning.
c. Adequate documentation to demonstrate sustained support for the project.
- No additional report required.
- The institution should be commended on any elements of excellence, such as significant
impact on learning or outstanding support from administration, faculty, staff, and
5. Refer to C & R for Review:
- The Institution did not document:
a. The implementation of its QEP.
b. The assessment of the QEP’s impact on student learning.
c. The sustained support for the project.
- An additional report in 12 months documenting progress in modifying and implementing QEP is due to C & R, who will either require additional reports or take other action.