Accreditation affirmed for DSU: School put on 'notice'Just a day after North Dakota’s new university system chancellor said a review of Dickinson State University’s enrollment problems was going well, officials announced the school will remain accredited but that it had been put on “notice” from the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
By: The Press Staff and The Associated Press, The Dickinson Press
Just a day after North Dakota’s new university system chancellor said a review of Dickinson State University’s enrollment problems was going well, officials announced the school will remain accredited but that it had been put on “notice” from the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
“On July 11, the Board of Trustees of the Higher Learning Commission reviewed the findings of the advisory visit to DSU earlier this spring and the recommendations that commission President Dr. Sylvia Manning made to the board,” said DSU President D.C. Coston in a press release Friday. “Yesterday afternoon, I received by email the letter and Public Disclosure Notice detailing the board’s action. The board has placed Dickinson State on ‘notice,’ and accreditation sanction effective as of the board action taken on July 11, 2012.”
In February, DSU must provide a detailed written report to the HLC describing the steps taken to address the concerns found during an advisory visit, according to the release. In May, the HLC will send a focused visit team to DSU to further assure compliance with requirements of the commission’s criteria for accreditation.
HLC staff will review the report and the findings of the focused visit and prepare recommendations to the board, according to the release. In November 2013, the board will review this complete set of materials and determine if further action is warranted.
The HLC office was closed when The Press attempted to contact them Friday afternoon. A representative called from home and referred The Press to the letter, which can be viewed online at www.thedickinsonpress.com.
Earlier this year, the school was hit with an audit that showed it was giving degrees to hundreds of Chinese students who didn’t earn them.
A separate audit said the university had haphazard policies for granting partial tuition waivers.
Chancellor Hamid Shirvani said reviewers have been pleased so far with how Dickinson State has addressed its problems.
Shirvani said Dickinson State’s enrollment has been holding up despite the problems.
In other higher education news
North Dakota school officials said Friday they welcomed a proposal to send the grades of college freshmen back to their high schools to find out how well they were prepared for higher education.
Wayne Sanstead, superintendent of North Dakota’s Department of Public Instruction, said closer connections between the state’s public college and high schools is “really desired and needed.”
“Some (students) are getting through the net without being prepared, and that news needs to go back to the high school,” Sanstead said.
Ham Shirvani, the new chancellor of North Dakota’s university system, said the idea will be one of his priorities in his first year on the job.
North Dakota does not follow the practice — common for colleges in most states — of providing information about freshman students’ academic performance to their home high schools, he said. Shirvani believes the data exchange will help both high schools and colleges improve their instruction and make college remedial classes more efficient.
“We have that data in North Dakota. We have never used it,” Shirvani said. “It is our obligation to give the feedback to high schools, and also for parents and community leaders to know how, and in what way, each of these high schools have been teaching.”
A group of state agencies, including the departments of commerce, public instruction and human services, have been developing a system capable of tracking and sharing data about students’ progress as they move through the school system. It has not been implemented.
Dakota Draper, president of the North Dakota Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ group, said he backed Shirvani’s initiative, as long as the information was not used to target individual teachers.
“The key is if it’s meant to be in a constructive way, and it’s not meant to try to go find the bad teachers, if you will, and fire them,” Draper said. “To help people and help school districts get better, that would be a welcome thing to us.”
Jon Martinson, director of the state School Boards Association, said the university system has been reluctant to provide local schools with information on their former students’ progress.
“They have not been very forthcoming on providing data on student achievement and student success,” Martinson said. “The only way we’re going to get better is if we know how we’re doing, and one of those assessments is how students do in their freshman year.”