All of Sauk's offices and academic areas undergo evaluation annually in the process of examining data for their Operational Plans and in preparing each year’s budget requests. A more in-depth analysis in conducted every five years as a part of the ICCB-required program review for all instructional and non-instructional units. Sauk uses this requirement to provide a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of each unit.
At the 2002 HLC comprehensive evaluation, the program review process was disconnected from other efforts of the college and suffered from some of the same weaknesses as other systems: Data was unclear and inconsistent. Action plans were often weak and few were implemented. After being approved, many of the reviews were misplaced or lost.
Three nearly simultaneous circumstances resulted in an overhaul of the system:
As a result, in FY09, program review was redefined as a tool for continuous improvement. A unique approach was utilized to revise this process: instead of forming a single cross-institutional committee, the Dean of Institutional Research and Planning facilitated a process that used specialized small groups. For example, the business faculty and college accountants discussed and designed the structuring of the financial data that review teams analyze during a program review. Also, the templates, revised again slightly for FY11, were aligned with the new Strategic Plan (Appendix). The resulting program review process guides each review team through a data-based examination of its current status in order to make plans for future improvement. Other features enhance the evaluation’s value to the evaluated area and to college planning efforts:
While most program reviews have not resulted in major improvements, many minor improvements have been documented, including the following examples:
The program review process has also been consulted for unanticipated purposes, such as identifying facility needs that were shared with site planners.
As a part of the process since FY09, the chair of each program review team has been asked to complete an evaluation of the process. Responses indicate that the objectives for revising the program review format have been achieved. During the first three years of the new format, over 70% of team chairs reported that the program review was linked to other internal processes, 90% ranked the new format as an improvement over the old format, and 75% also rated the new program review as being valuable to the program.
The revised program review process is a positive approach to reviewing a program’s current status, making plans to achieve future improvements, and assuring that requests with budgetary impact get considered as part of the budget allocation process. It is expected that the process and templates will continue to be reviewed and revised slightly every year to keep the process an effective tool for continuous improvement.