Back See this section in context: Criterion 2 Core Component 2C
2C.1: Effective Systems Support Continuous Improvement
The 2002 Visit Team found Sauk engaged in collecting data, but without a system that assured that analysis of that data contributed to continuous improvement. As a result of that finding, the college recognized that much of its planning was done in “silos,” creating isolated documents in isolated settings. It set about transforming itself into a learning organization where continuous improvement could be achieved and documented through interlocked planning systems. In 2006, the Focused Visit Team recognized that transformation and made recommendations for continued growth of the systems for strategic planning and assessment. In addition, a new president added his perspectives, which effected continued changes in the strategic planning system, some of which are being set into motion for the first time during the self-study process. The primary initiative undertaken has been focused on re-engineering and linking multiple internal processes into a single efficient system and on integrating daily activities with institutional planning.
Sauk is clearly maintaining effective systems for collecting, analyzing, and using organizational information. Most importantly, the components of the planning system are linked in such a way that the data from each informs annual budget decisions that in turn support the Strategic Directions. Each of the four primary planning and evaluation cycle components includes a specific point in the timeline where prior performance is revisited in setting future plans (Appendix):
- Strategic planning: OPIC is charged with reviewing “institutional progress toward achieving Strategic Goals,” which includes reviewing each year’s Operational Plan, Annual Report, Program Review Report, the status of past budget requests coming from program review and operational planning, and the status of Key Performance Indicators (Appendix). During its fall 2010 review, OPIC discovered some issues related to budget request feedback that required improved communication.
- Operational planning: Planning is a two-part endeavor where units evaluate the results of their plans for the year that is ending and plan next year’s activities. All reports and plans are submitted to the unit’s supervising administrator, who provides feedback as appropriate and approves them. The reports and plans are also submitted to the Dean of Institutional Research and Planning, who also reviews them and requests revisions to assure that activities are aligned with objectives, outcomes are measurable, and that the reported results are pertinent and appropriate. The timeline requires that academic areas submit drafts in April and final plans in September. Support departments and offices submit their reports and plans in July.
- Program review: An evaluation loop is built into the program review process. Throughout the template, the review teams are asked to report on the results of their previous efforts and identify future efforts. Supervising administrators and the Program Review Committee evaluate the reviews and request modifications or additional information as appropriate; the review is not approved until it is complete. The Dean of Institutional Research and Planning provides the final feedback loop by verifying that planned actions are transferred into Operational Plans.
- Assessment of academic achievement: Assessment of student learning is faculty driven and based on the learning outcomes set at institutional, area, program, or course level (3A.3). Data collected from the various streams is discussed and acted upon by the faculty. Data collected through individual coursework often does not have a budgetary need. However, discussion of various area-level and institutional-level data may result in curricular proposals or budget requests, which are initiated in Operational Plans whenever analysis shows that action is appropriate. The faculty annually collects data which is analyzed and discussed at the beginning of the following academic year. Based on that discussion, the area will determine whether to repeat the assessment or to assess another outcome. By the program review, each area is to have covered all of its objectives at least once. The Sauk Valley Community College Assessment Plan establishes a schedule for assessment tasks that ensures that data flows into the operational planning system in such a way that it reaches the budget (Appendix).
Appropriate internal and external data is made available for strategic, operational, program review and budgetary planning. Information Services creates variations of data sets as requested if a need is determined. The Board of Trustees, the President's Cabinet, and the academic areas and support departments clearly look at data. Reviews of data contribute to organizational improvement when they are used for goal creation in assessment, Operational Plans, or program review. Decisions or steps toward implementation for improvement are more difficult to trace from the President's Cabinet and Board of Trustees meetings as the decisions are housed in minutes and do not necessarily go into a planning document with Strategic Goals attached.