NDSCS is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) through the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) pathway. The AQIP pathway is focused on quality assurance and institutional improvement, but with an added emphasis on helping institutions achieve continuous quality improvement. The AQIP pathway follows an eight-year cycle.

AQIP Strategy Team

The AQIP Strategy Team is responsible for coordinating strategic planning, action planning, including development of targets, and identifying areas for improvement. The team is also responsible for the leadership of the quality infrastructure for the College.


  • Clinton Gilbertson – TAACCCT Project Manager
  • Heather Heyerman – Student (Business Management)
  • Dennis Gladen – Vice President for Administrative Affairs
  • Kathy Marquette – Associate Professor
  • Tony Grindberg – Vice President of Workforce Affairs
  • Melissa Johnson – Executive Director, Student & Residential Life
  • Ken Kompelien – Dean, Arts, Science & Business
  • Harvey Link – Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Dr. John Richman (Administrative Liaison) – President
  • Dr. Jane Vangsness Frisch (Accreditation Liaison Officer) – Vice President for Student Affairs

AQIP Categories

The six AQIP Pathway Categories provide a framework that institutions can use to examine their key processes and allow institutions to analyze, understand and explore opportunities for improvement. The use of the categories is fundamental to the development of NDSCS Systems Portfolio.

Category One: Helping Students Learn focuses on the design, deployment and effectiveness of teaching-learning processes (and on the processes required to support them) that underlie the institution’s credit and non-credit programs and courses.

Category Two: Meeting Student and Other Key Stakeholder Needs addresses the key processes (separate from instructional programs and internal support services) through which the institution serves its external stakeholders in support of its mission.

Category Three: Valuing Employees explores the institution’s commitment to the hiring, development and evaluation of faculty, staff and administrators.

Category Four: Planning and Leading focuses on how the institution achieves its mission and lives its vision through direction setting, goal development, strategic actions, threat mitigation and capitalizing on opportunities.

Category Five: Knowledge Management and Resource Stewardship addresses management of the fiscal, physical, technological and information infrastructures designed to provide an environment in which learning can thrive.

Category Six: Quality Overview focuses on the Continuous Quality Improvement culture and infrastructure of the institution. This category gives the institution a chance to reflect on all its quality improvement initiatives, how they are integrated and how they contribute to improvement of the institution.

Action Projects

The AQIP Pathway is on an eight-year cycle. During each year of the cycle, NDSCS maintains at least three action projects which are short-term projects that are identified through the strategic planning process. Current Action projects include:

Course Syllabi Standards Alignment

(August 2017 – May 2018)

The Course Syllabi Standards Alignment action project will establish the institutional expectations and standards for all course syllabi. This will be accomplished through providing tools and resources to faculty to ensure compliance and by devising a process to ensure ongoing adherence to the established syllabi standards. This project will be championed by both the Vice President for Academic Affairs and a diverse academic team, which will foster the project’s development. This project will aim to further improve NDSCS’s transparency of course learning outcomes and credit hours, establish institutional standards for syllabi, and enhance the syllabi collection, archiving, and review processes.

  • Goal 1: By December 2017, the institutional standards for necessary components of course syllabi will be established. 
  • Goal 2: By April 2018, the tools and resources for faculty to develop syllabi that contain necessary standard will be developed. 
  • Goal 3: By April 2018, a process will be established to ensure syllabi standards are consistently followed.
Building Success @ Science – Phase 2: Academic Metric Identification

(September 2017 – June 2018)

To enhance student success, the College is working together to build an effective academic and non-academic program review process entitled ‘Building Success @ Science’. Currently, NDSCS does not have a formal internal program review process, CTE programs undergo a program review every five years – but academic and non-academic programs are not subject to a standard internal review process. This action project will encompass the second phase of the initiative, establishing metrics and the process for academic program review. The first phase established a communication process that enables input and clear communication for all phases of the Building Success @ Science initiative.

  • Goal 1: By October 2017, a diverse academic team is formed to champion the metric identification.
  • Goal 2: By May 2018, a process and metrics will be established for academic program review.
  • Goal 3: By February 2018, gain input from the College community on draft metrics and process through the Communication Process of Major Initiatives.
Building Success @ Science – Phase 3: Co-Curricular Learning Assessment and Program Review

(September 2017- June 2019)

This two-year project will seek to establish a College community that understands and embraces assessment of student learning, specifically in co-curricular areas. The first year will allow for establishing a Champion Team that will assist with educating the various non-academic areas on how to effectively assess co-curricular learning and establish department-specific co-curricular learning assessment plans. The second year will seek to identify metrics and a process to consistently provide feedback to areas related to co-curricular learning assessment plans and program review. This project will enable the assessment of co-curricular student learning and program review to be valued, embraced and institutionalized.

  • Goal 1: By October 2017, a peer-nominated, champion team will be established to foster the project’s development.
  • Goal 2: By August 2018, a consistent understanding of co-curricular learning assessment and related processes/practices will be established among co-curricular areas at NDSCS.
  • Goal 3: By August 2018, tools, resources, and consultation will be provided to co-curricular staff/departments to develop effective co-curricular assessment and program review plans.
  • Goal 4: By May 2018, establish a process to consistently provide feedback to departments related to co-curricular learning assessment and program review.
  • Goal 5: By May 2019, provide constructive feedback to co-curricular areas on student learning assessment and program review plans.
2016 Comprehensive Quality Review

On April 25, 26 and 27, 2016 NDSCS will host a Comprehensive Quality Review (CQR). During the CQR, peer reviewers determine if accreditation criterion are being met through reviewing required aspects of the reaffirmation process (Systems Portfolio, CQR Quality Highlights Report, etc.), institutional documents and policies, and through meeting with College employees and students.

For more information, please review the required documents submitted for the CQR visit:

2016 Comprehensive Quality Review Highlights Report
CQR Quality Highlights report is intended to be brief and manageable, providing broad descriptions and highlights since NDSCS submitted its AQIP Systems Portfolio.
November 2013

2016 NDSCS CQR Overview
Find out more information and answers to FAQs regarding the upcoming CQR visit.

2016 NDSCS Federal Compliance Packet
In preparation for the CQR visit Spring 2016 NDSCS prepared and submitted this Federal Compliance Packet.

The CQR serves to:

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

NDSCS Systems Portfolio with Next Steps
This document contains the 2013 NDSCS AQIP Systems Portfolio (submitted 11/13). NOTE: on Page 133 responses and ‘next steps’ focusing on the section that received ‘O’ or ‘OO’ in the System Appraisal Feedback are in the document.

NDSCS Strategic Goals & Action Projects
This document contains NDSCS Strategic Plan 2017-2020 and current Action Projects.

Systems Portfolio