HLC Criteria for Accreditation

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) uses five criteria to evaluate how well Parkland College is performing—Mission; Integrity; Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support; Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement; and Institutional Effectiveness, Resources, and Planning. To achieve continued accreditation, Parkland College must adhere to the criteria for accreditation set by the Higher Learning Commission.

Each criterion, its main subcomponents, and examples of how Parkland College meets the criterion are listed below. For a further explanation of criteria subcomponents, please consult the HLC Criteria for Accreditation page at:

Criterion 1: Mission The institution's mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution's operations.

A. The institution’s mission is articulated publicly and operationalized throughout the institution.

B. The institution’s mission demonstrates commitment to the public good.

C. The institution provides opportunities for civic engagement in a diverse, multicultural society and globally-connected world, as appropriate within its mission and for the constituencies it serves.

Why does this matter?

The mission of Parkland College is to engage the community in learning. It drives everything we do. We fulfill our mission by serving students, serving our employees, and serving our community.  

What's an example of this criterion?

Our mission and purposes statement, along with our statement of core values and commitment to cultural diversity, is listed on Parkland's website and in its catalog. The mission statement is developed collaboratively and reviewed on a regular basis with input from the Parkland community. It is reflected in the culture of the institution: its curricula, processes, and strategic plan for excellence. 

Criterion 2: Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

A. The institution establishes and follows policies and processes to ensure fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty and staff.

B. The institution presents itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public. 

C. The governing board of the institution is autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution in compliance with board policies and to ensure the institution's integrity. 

D. The institution is committed to academic freedom and freedom of expression in the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning. 

E. The institution's policies and procedures call for responsible acquisition, discovery and application of Knowledge by its faculty, staff, and students. 

Why does this matter?

Honesty and integrity as well as public trust are key components of the Parkland College Core Values. These values are important to the fulfillment of our mission and guide our actions in serving students and the community.

What's an example of this criterion?

For example, college policies go through an internal approval process and then on to the Board of Trustees for approval. The internal approval process, (Policy 2.11), first goes through the appropriate Vice President or to the Vice President of the PCA. Any substantial changes are reviewed by the Policy and Procedures Committee and then presented to the PCA Senate. If the Senate endorses the proposal, it is forwarded to the College President, who presents it to the Board of Trustees (BOT) for approval and inclusion in the Policies and Procedures Manual. (Self-Study 2A.2 Internal Review Draft).

The approvals process requires input from a variety of groups and people at Parkland to ensure that our policies are ethical, and that the process is fair and consistent.

Criterion 3: Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support The institution provides high quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered.

A. The rigor of the institution's academic offerings is appropriate to higher education. 

B. The institution offers programs that engage students in collecting, analyzing and communicating information; in mastering modes of intellectual inquiry or creative work; and in developing skills adaptable to changing the environments. 

C. The institution has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services. 

D. The institution provides support for student learning and resources for effective teaching. 

Why does this matter?

Parkland College provides quality education in the courses and programs we offer across all modes of delivery. Our mission and purposes focus on providing high-quality and responsive educational programs that serve the needs of our students and our community.

What's an example of this criterion?

The college’s general education program is centered on the mission of providing education that is relevant to the educational goals of the student, the needs of employers, and the healthy functioning of a democratic society. An established framework of General Learning Outcomes (GLOs), consisting of Communication, Creativity, Critical Thinking and Information Literacy, Reasoning and Inquiry, Technology, and Global Awareness and Ethical Reasoning, undergirds all credit-bearing courses. Faculty determine which GLO(s) are most appropriately assessed in each course and that is clearly identified in the Course Information Form (CIF). All CIFs are reviewed by faculty every three years and at that time faculty reconsider whether the selected GLO(s) continue to meet essential skills students need to be successful upon graduation. (Self-Study 3B. 1 Internal Review Draft)

Criterion 4: Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement The institution demonstrates responsibility for, and evaluates the effectiveness of, its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, to promote continuous improvement.

A. The institution ensures the quality of its educational offerings. 

B. The institution engages in ongoing assessment of student learning as part of its commitment to the educational outcomes of its students. 

C. The institution pursues educational improvement through goals and strategies that improve retention, persistence and completion rates in its degree and certificate programs. 

Why does this matter?

Parkland College strives for quality in all educational programs and works for continuous improvement through assessment of student learning and success in programs, courses, and services.

What's an example of this criterion?

Parkland College uses the Course Information Form (CIF) to establish course-level learning outcomes, to articulate general-education learning outcomes, and to outline methods of evaluation for each course in the college catalog. The information found in the CIFs serves as the foundation for every syllabus at Parkland College. CIFs are reviewed by the faculty at least once every three years, and general education courses are reviewed every three years by the General Education Assessment Sub-Committee (GEASC). The CIFs establish standards of instructional consistency and integrity by providing a mechanism for ensuring that every syllabus meets the established metrics for instruction and assessment. (Self-Study 4B. 1 Internal Review Draft)

Criterion 5: Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.

A. Through its administrative structures and collaborative processes, the institution's leadership demonstrates that it is effective and enables the institution to fulfill its mission. 

B. The institution's resource base supports its educational offerings and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future. 

C. The institution engages in systematic and integrated planning and improvement. 

Why does this matter? 

Parkland College values and promotes shared governance through the Parkland College Association (PCA) and works to be fiscally responsible in its operations, budgeting, and planning so that we can continue to provide high-quality education and services to our students and community.

What is an example of this criterion?

Parkland College is committed to shared governance. It intentionally engages its internal constituencies –administration, faculty, staff, and students –to fulfill its mission through participatory processes. This engagement takes place through two primary structures: the Parkland College Association (PCA) and the Annual Planning process. Decisions on planning and policies that emerge from internal shared governance processes are presented to the Board of Trustees (BOT) for review and approval. (Self-Study 5A. 1 Internal Review Draft)