May 18-20, 2005

 

ITEM 127-108-R0505                  Policy 303.3 – Program Review; Revisions

 

THAT:                                       The Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education approves the following extensive revision of Policy 303.3 – Program Review.  The revision does the following important things:

(1)     places the primary responsibility for academic program review on the campuses that make up the Montana University System;

(2)     requires the campuses to conduct a review every year on some portion of the academic programs offered by the institution; the results of that review will be reported to the Board of Regents every November;

(3)     permits the campuses to use their periodic program accreditation visits, when appropriate, as the review mechanism under this policy;

(4)     includes all majors, minors, options and many certificates, listed in the official degree and program inventory, in the program review process;

(5)     establishes a seven-year program review cycle for all programs.  The current policy does not establish a specific cycle, but the past practice of the Board has been to conduct the review approximately every five years;

(6)     establishes special review and documentation procedures for programs that appear to be unpopular, underutilized or inefficient.

 

EXPLANATION:                        The Chief Academic Officers have discussed this policy for almost six months.  They urge the Board of Regents to adopt the revised policy for the following reasons:

·         the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities expects institutions to review its programs as part of its educational assessment process.  This policy builds on that expectation, and reduces the number of repeated or duplicated program reviews conducted by the campuses and this Board.

·         since several programmatic accreditation groups are now on a seven-year cycle, this policy follows that practice, again to avoid unnecessary duplication of program review efforts.  NCATE and its teacher education reviews is probably the most important example of that practice.

·         the previous program review process created significant hardship and chaos on the campuses, even though it only came around every five years or so.  Programs were identified for Board review, even though they may have just completed an internal review; and the Regent review year always increased tensions and anxiety on the campuses, primarily because of “who” was doing the review.  Admittedly, the proposed policy may just spread that anxiety out over every year, but it is a process that the campuses are expected to do for their regional accrediting agency anyway.

·         the previous program review process shifted the responsibility and the hard decisions to the Board of Regents and the Commissioner’s staff.  This policy places the responsibility on the shoulders of the campuses and their professional managers, where it belongs.  The Board still retains ultimate and final authority over the review process and the decisions that grow out of the process, however.

·          the previous program review process placed a primary emphasis on program economics (e.g., numbers of graduates), with little to no consideration of program quality (e.g., program outcomes and assessment).  By including program quality as a reason for internal review, the Montana Board of Regents expects the campus processes to emphasize that goal.

 

ATTACHMENT:                         Policy 303.3