The Institutional Change Assessment Tool (ICAT) is an online self-assessment that helps colleges determine their current level of capacity in each of the seven key dimensions. The ICAT also provides colleges with additional benefits related to their accreditation cycle. The seven regional accrediting agencies have some variation in accreditation standards or criteria but they have all adopted a cycle or process (often referred to as “closing the loop”) for colleges to use through the self-study or compliance certification process.
Some of the accrediting agencies want colleges to use more than one form of assessment and/or both qualitative and quantitative measures in the process or cycle of initial accreditation of reaffirmation. The ICAT can provide an additional assessment tool that produces a numeric result with qualitative feedback from faculty and staff who participate in accreditation processes. While the ICAT was is not intended to be a psychometric tool, it can stimulate broad-based discussion and analysis. It is a tool to facilitate consensus and to promote change and improvement.
The ICAT can align with accreditation:
- As an externally developed assessment tool that is used nationally and can be used as a pre-test/post-test measure.
- As an environmental scanning tool to produce broad areas of focus for strategic planning.
- As a facilitator of broad engagement and critical discussions about institutional issues.
- As a venue for discussion, analysis, and strategy to determine the quality issues the college faces.
- As a tool to address the recent change in focus toward student success.
Colleges will need to extract and analyze data from their student information systems relating to retention, course completion rates, degree attainment, etc. but the ICAT provides data on the college infrastructure for student success such as board and leadership support, college resources, policies and practices that support student success.
The ICAT can easily be a catalyst for ongoing, college-wide discussion about institutional strengths and weaknesses, progress on systemic change, the adoption of best practices, and improvements in institutional quality. The subscale scores, item analysis, and broad-based discussion can serve as supplemental support documentation for activities, infrastructure, and support for student success work at the college.
Read the full publication on aligning the ICAT to accreditation here.