Higher Learning Commission


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Comprehensive Quality Review

The Comprehensive Quality Review (CQR) is part of the comprehensive evaluation conducted in Year 8 of the AQIP Pathway and determines if an institution meets the Criteria for Accreditation. Institutional advances in continuous quality improvement are also reviewed during the CQR. Institutions may also request a CQR visit in Year 4 of the AQIP Pathway to assist in their improvement efforts, or HLC may require a visit in Year 4 if concerns related to continued compliance with the Pathway arise.

The Comprehensive Quality Review

During the CQR, peer reviewers draw information from the institution’s previous Systems Portfolio, the CQR Quality Highlights Report, and other institutional documents to determine if the Criteria are being met. The CQR is one portion of the comprehensive evaluation for institutions in the AQIP Pathway.

The CQR serves to:

  • Provide evidence that the institution is meeting the Criteria for Accreditation.
  • Facilitate the institution’s continuing quality improvement commitment.
  • Identify actions taken to minimize identified Strategic Issues.
  • Review how Action Projects are integrated into an institution’s overall performance improvement strategies.
  • Review distance and/or correspondence education delivery, if applicable.

Systems Portfolio

In Year 7, the institution submits its Systems Portfolio providing evidence related to the six AQIP Pathway Categories. This evidence also demonstrates that the institution meets the Criteria for Accreditation. Because specific AQIP Pathway Category items are aligned to the Criteria and Core Components, the institution provides proof when responding to the Category items. HLC’s Systems Portfolio Guide offers institutions guidance on drafting an effective Systems Portfolio.

A peer review team evaluates the Systems Portfolio and provides feedback through the Systems Appraisal. If the peer review team identifies any gaps in information, the institution has an opportunity to provide additional evidence prior to the CQR using the CQR Quality Highlights Report.

CQR Quality Highlights Report

The CQR Quality Highlights Report is a vehicle for the institution to provide additional information following the review of its Systems Portfolio. The report includes updates and new information that was not available when the institution submitted its Systems Portfolio, addresses peer review comments made in the Systems Appraisal, and offers updates on Strategic Challenges. An institution may use the CQR Quality Highlights Report to detail how Systems Appraisal feedback or Strategy Forum participation has led to specific actions or changes that have spurred improvement at the institution. Such improvement may be described in terms of the maturity levels used to evaluate the Systems Portfolio or possibly by means of the Principles of High Performance Institutions.

Some institutions will have special circumstances they wish to address in the CQR to show the peer review team that the institution is committed to the AQIP Pathway. For example, institutions that have had irregularities in submitting Action Projects or in Strategy Forum attendance should explain the reasoning behind the irregularities and provide a plan showing the steps the institution is taking to address the issue.

An institution in the AQIP Pathway with additional locations can provide information on any recent steps taken to assure and advance quality at those locations. The institution may also wish to address other teaching formats it offers (dual enrollment, distance education, correspondence education, etc.) to add value to the report.

The CQR Quality Highlights Report should be 12 to 15 pages. Institutions should include in the CQR Quality Highlights Report a title page with the institution’s name and location and contact information for the institution’s president and Accreditation Liaison Officer. Although each institution determines the content of its Quality Highlights Report, there are items that must be addressed such as previously identified Strategic Challenges and prior areas of concern related to the Criteria for Accreditation.

Additional Comprehensive Evaluation Components

The comprehensive evaluation involves various components that, when considered together, inform HLC on whether an institution merits reaffirmation of accreditation. These components include:

Decision Making

Taking all of the components of the comprehensive evaluation into consideration, the peer review team drafts a report that is submitted to HLC. The report includes the peer review team’s recommendation on whether the institution meets the Criteria for Accreditation, any required monitoring and its pathway eligibility. The institution will receive a copy of the peer review team’s report and recommendation from HLC and will have an opportunity to submit an institutional response.

A decision-making body reviews the team report, the supporting documentation collected during the comprehensive evaluation and the institutional response and takes takes final action.


Pathways for Reaffirmation of Accreditation

Choosing a Pathway

Standard Pathway

Open Pathway


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