Accreditation/Quality Improvement

WCTC is Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
Chicago, Illinois 60602-2504
Phone: 800.621.7440 / 312.263.0456

HLC is a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Accreditation means that WCTC has been certified and meets established criteria for providing quality education.

The quality of the education, staff, and services at WCTC has resulted in accreditation with high commendations since 1979-80. The most recent comprehensive evaluation was completed in 2010-2011 resulting in reaffirmation accreditation through 2017-2018.

WCTC's dedication to continuous improvement has resulted in its recent decision to subscribe to the Academic Quality Improvement Process (AQIP). AQIP is an ongoing process of systemic quality improvement rather than the periodic ten year review to which WCTC formerly subscribed. AQIP is aligned with WCTC's commitment to quality and its philosophy of involving all stakeholders in creating its future together.

In addition to maintaining continuous college quality, several WCTC programs must meet occupation-specific certification/accreditation requirements.

Program Accreditations

  • Culinary Management is accredited by the American Culinary Federation Accrediting Commission and assures graduates that the curriculum has been guided by the American Culinary Federation.
  • Associate Degree Nursing and Practical Nursing are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and assures graduates that WCTC meets their stringent standards and criteria for health professionals in nursing.
  • Human Services Associate is accredited by the Wisconsin Board for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Association and allows graduates to receive initial credentials as AODA Counselors in the State of Wisconsin.
  • The Dental Hygienist program is accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation.
  • The Medical Assistant program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) on the recommendation of the Committee of Accreditation for Medical Assistant Education.
  • The Surgical Technical program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) on the recommendation of the Committee of Accreditation for Surgical Technology Education.
  • The Physical Therapy Assistant program, a partnership program with Blackhawk Technical College, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.
  • The Radiography program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiology.
  • The Health Information Technology program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
  • The Paramedic Technician program is accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions (CoAEMSP).
  • The Fire Protection program is accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC).
  • The Electrical Engineering Technology program is accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC) of ABET Inc.

In addition to specific program accreditation, several of WCTC's other occupational programs have received external approval from various governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as consistent support and recognition from the instructional program advisory committees.

  • National Institute for Automotive Service Education (ASE)
  • American Heart Association (AHA) approves CPR, ACLS, PALS and HeartSaver portions of all programs
  • Central Service Program approved by International Association of Hospital Central Service Management (IAHCSM)
  • Emergency Medical Technician courses/programs and Nursing Assistant approved by WI Department of Health Services (DHS)
  • Financial Planning Certificate is approved by the Certified Financial Planning Board
  • Dynamics is certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as an authorized site
  • National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF)
  • Motorcycle class graduates certified by Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement Academy graduates certified by the Training and Standards Bureau (DOJ)
  • Wisconsin Board of Nursing
  • Wisconsin Technical College System

Through continuous quality improvement and accreditation, we are dedicated to assuring our students, their present and future employers, and our community that WCTC is meeting and/or exceeding their expectations for success.

About Academic Quality Improvement Process (AQIP)

AQIP is an alternative accreditation process developed by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. It focuses on continuous improvement.

The goal of AQIP is to infuse the principles and benefits of continuous improvement into college cultures in order to assure and advance the quality of higher education.

Instead of looking back 10 years at what has been accomplished (the former accreditation process used by WCTC), this process allows us to look forward, assess what our strengths are, and what areas/processes we believe we need to improve. Action Projects are developed to work on specific initiatives.

AQIP's Principles of High Performance Organizations

AQIP’s Principles of High Performance Organizations describe the characteristics that we strive to embed within our culture:


The college has a mission and vision focused on students’ and other stakeholders’ experience.


There is broad-based faculty, staff, and administrative engagement and participation.


Leaders and leadership systems support a quality culture.


The college exhibits a student learning centered environment.


There is respect for and willingness to invest in people (faculty, staff, administration).


There is collaboration and a shared institutional focus.


The college has the ability, flexibility, and responsiveness to changing needs and conditions.


There is planning for innovation and improvement.


Fact-based evidence-gathering and thinking occur of support analysis and decision-making.


The college believes in the importance of integrity and responsible institutional citizenship.

Nine Specific AQIP Criteria that WCTC must Demonstrate in order to Maintain Accreditation

There are nine specific AQIP criteria that WCTC must demonstrate in order to maintain accreditation.  They are described below and include specific areas within each criterion.

Helping Students Learn

Helping Students Learn identifies the shared purpose of all higher education organizations and is the priority of any institutional analysis. It focuses on the teaching-learning process within a formal instructional context, yet also addressed how the entire institution contributes to helping students learn and overall student development.

  • Clear learning objectives, performance, improvement
  • Teaching excellence, faculty/others’ roles in teaching and learning
  • Assessing and improving learning, learning environment, technology
  • Student preparation, intellectual climate
  • Academic programs and courses – currency
  • Student advising, counseling, library – instructional support
  • Learning - Information - Focus

Accomplishing Other Distinctive Objectives

Accomplishing Other Distinctive Objectives addresses the processes that contribute to the achievement of the institution’s major objectives, that complement student learning, and that fulfill other portions of the mission.

  • Other institutional work/mission (civic, cultural, environmental, etc.)
  • Aligning other work with the priorities of teaching/learning
  • Faculty and others’ roles in relationship to other objectives (service)
  • Preserving a distinct culture related to a unique mission/objective (training, niche markets)
  • Evaluating the “other work” of the institution
  • Leadership - Foresight

Understanding Students' and other Stakeholders' Needs

Understanding students' and other stakeholders' needs examines how the institution works actively to understand student and other stakeholder needs.

  • Defining different students and others we serve
  • Analyzing needs and designing programs and services
  • Use of complaints, evaluations, feedback from students/others
  • Improving satisfaction of students/stakeholders
  • Process for getting information from students, employers, other stakeholders
  • Information - Focus - Agility

Valuing People

Valuing People explores our commitment to the development of staff, faculty, and administrators since the efforts of all are required for institutional success.

  • Work and job environment, clear job roles, responsibilities
  • Recruiting, selecting, hiring, orienting, evaluating processes
  • Investing in people – professional development, trust, respect, motivation
  • Recognizing and rewarding – aligned with priorities
  • Safety, satisfaction, well-being of all employees
  • People - Involvement

Leading and Communicating

Leading and Communicating addresses how the institution’s leadership and communication structures, networks, and processes guide the college in setting directions, making decisions, seeking future opportunities, and building and sustaining a learning environment.

  • Governance, decision-making structures, processes
  • Leadership developed across employees
  • Information available to do job well
  • Setting directions, communicating the vision, mission, goals
  • Supporting overall institutional movement and development
  • Committee, team, other structures for accomplishing work
  • Building and sustaining a learning environment
  • Communicating across the institution, departments, etc.
  • Leadership - Involvement - Foresight

Supporting Institutional Operations

Supporting Institutional Operations addresses the variety of institutional support processes that help to provide an environment in which learning can thrive.

  • Budgeting, endowment, fund-raising processes
  • Security, campus facilities, institutional technology
  • Food service, extra-mural activities
  • Administrative support systems
  • Contribution to learning and other objectives
  • Day to day operations
  • Safety, satisfaction, well-being of all employees
  • Leadership - Focus - People

Measuring Effectiveness

Measuring Effectiveness examines how we collect, analyze, and use information to manage ourselves and to drive performance improvement.

  • System for gathering and using information and data
  • Analyzing and acting on information in a timely fashion
  • Tracking and measuring improvement
  • Processes to compare institution to other peer institutions
  • Processes for determining what data to gather when and how…and processes for using data for improvement
  • Processes for discussing and acting on information
  • Information - Leadership - Agility - Foresight

Planning Continuous Improvement

Planning Continuous Improvement examines WCTC’s planning processes and how our strategies and action plans are helping us achieve our mission and vision.

  • Supporting – actually strategizing and pursuing innovation, change, improvement
  • Turning the vision, mission, strategic plan into real action
  • Pursuing resource needs – building people’s capacity for institutional work
  • Measuring, evaluating, improving the institution’s effectiveness as a whole
  • Aligning priorities, planning, and work across all levels and areas of the college
  • Leadership - Foresight - Agility

Building Collaborative Relationships

Building Collaborative Relationships examines WCTC’s relationships and partnerships – current and potential – to analyze how they contribute to accomplishing our mission.

  • Partnerships with other educational institutions, businesses, agencies, organizations
  • Current structures and processes that encourage internal and external collaboration
  • How we create and build relationship at WCTC
  • Support for teamwork, new collaborative projects – work that includes people from across the institution
  • People - Involvement - Collaboration

What is Appreciative Inquiry?

Appreciative Inquiry assumes that every living system has untapped, rich, and inspiring stories of the positive. It holds that these stories, these experiences, when systematically explored and shared.

  • release positive energy and innovative insight into how a system functions
  • produce the kind of energy and insight that is vastly superior to the kind of energy and insight achieved through the negation, criticism, and spiraling diagnosis associated with problem-and deficit-based approaches to change.

Appreciative Inquiry is a:

  • practical philosophy of being in the world at a day-to-day level
  • highly adaptable process for engaging people to build the kinds of organizations and world that they want to live in.

AI involves:

  • systematic discovery of what gives a system "life" when it is most effective and capable in economic, ecological, and human terms
  • weaving that new knowledge into the fabric of the organization's formal and informal infrastructure.

Appreciative Inquiry is the art and practice of asking questions that:

  • strengthen a system's capacity in positive ways
  • enable the system to re-conceptualize its purpose, principles, and design
  • enhance the system's most generative forces

Communication patterns, roles, processes, systems, strategies, and structures shift during a formal A1 process of organization development as people learn more about what contributes to times of energy and excellence.

Quality Improvement at WCTC

Practicing What We Teach About Continuous Quality Improvement

Since the late 1980s, WCTC has been applying the principles of continuous quality improvement. Quality thinking continues to help the college in many ways:

  • Building trust across WCTC internal and external communities;
  • Developing a reputation for serving students and other customers with the highest standards of service;
  • Fostering a reputation for continuously improving every process related to teaching, learning, and working throughout the college.

The work of the Center for Quality and Innovation includes college-wide efforts as well as service to the wider community served by WCTC.

Within WCTC

  • Train staff and students in Quality-related topics
  • Appreciative Inquiry, Quality at Work, Facilitator Training and specialized workshops related to teaching and learning
  • Develop and facilitate various process improvement teams or local improvement projects
  • Facilitate college process efforts such as Students Outcomes Assessment and Strategic Planning
  • Provide on-going coaching throughout WCTC in Quality-related processes (Teacher Improvement System, Support Staff Process for Development and Improvement)
  • Link trained facilitators to serve as guides at team, task force, or occasional meetings
  • Apply problem-solving processes to resolve conflicts
  • Use quality methods and tools to gather and display data and to strengthen and assess learning
  • Model free flow of information between individuals and groups
  • Grow leadership at all levels
  • Improve services and processes using customer feedback
  • Assist with planning activities (design and document group plans)

Throughout the Community

  • Collaborate with Waukesha County, state, and national groups in quality and student outcomes assessment topics
  • Deliver seminars and presentations in public and professional settings
  • Facilitate local, state and regional planning activities as non-profit groups create vision, mission, values, and plans to guide their work

The WCTC Center for Quality and Innovation is committed to supporting customer focus, continuous improvement, and personal empowerment throughout the college community.

For information, contact Mary Poehls at 262.691.5181.