Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center is currently in the process of reaffirming its accreditation with the Council on Occupational Education (COE). Oconaluftee has enjoyed twenty five years of continued accreditation. The mission of the Council on Occupational Education is “assuring quality and integrity in career and technical education.”
The Council on Occupational Education (hereinafter referred to as the Council or COE) came into existence initially in 1971 as the Commission on Occupational Education Institutions (COEI) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), a regional accrediting association that serves institutions in an 11-state region. Operating as a unit of SACS, COEI provided accreditation services to post-secondary occupational education institutions located, with a few exceptions, in the SACS region.
The goals that represent the significant values and purposes to which the Council is dedicated are the following:
- To offer public assurance that accredited educational institutions provide quality instruction in career and technical education that facilitates learning by students and meeting the needs of the labor market.
- To provide guidance to institutions for the continual improvement of their educational offerings and related activities.
- To promote high ethical and educational standards for career and technical education.
- To enhance public understanding of career and technical education providers and of the value of the education and the credentials offered by these providers.
- To ensure that the accreditation process validates the achievement of learning and program objectives.
These goals embrace a commitment to integrity and credibility that are intended to result in accreditation by the Council being viewed as a nationally-honored seal of excellence for occupational education institutions. Through its accreditation process, the Council seeks to stimulate the following:
- validation of job skills;
- certification of skills for local, state, regional, and national application;
- portability of skill credentials;
- placement of graduates in jobs related to preparation received;
- facilitation of partnerships and consortia through which the United States can continue to compete successfully in the global economy; and
- links among employers, policymakers, business and industry, labor, and other parties with vital interests in technical education.
The mission and goals of the Council provide the framework from which the objectives of COE as an accrediting agency are derived. These objectives are the following:
- To foster excellence in the field of career and technical education by establishing standards and guidelines for evaluating institutional effectiveness.
- To encourage institutions to view self-assessment and evaluation as a continuous quality improvement process.
- To provide counsel and assistance to established and developing institutions, disseminating information between, and among, institutions that will stimulate improvement of educational programs and related activities.
- To ensure that the standards, policies, and procedures developed demonstrate recognition of ,and respect for, the diversity of institutional missions.
- To ensure that the standards, policies, and procedures developed advance quality, creativity, cooperation, and performance.
- To require, as an integral part of the accrediting process, an institutional self-assessment that is analytical and evaluative ,and an on-site review by a visiting team of peers.
- To ensure that the processes of evaluation, policy-making, decision-making, and public participation accommodate the interests of the constituencies affected by the accrediting agency.
- To publish and otherwise make publicly available the (a) names of candidate and accredited institutions, (b) names and affiliations of members of its policy and decision-making bodies, and (c) names of its principal administrative personnel.
On Nov. 8, 2008, the delegates at the Council’s annual meeting adopted the core values listed below. The core values provide the foundation for the Council’s mission, goals, and objectives.
- Trustworthiness – denotes honesty, integrity, and reliability. The metaphorical equivalent to having a good credit score.
- Transparency – implies openness, communication, and clear visibility. Describes an accreditation process or status that is not secretive or mystical.
- Accountability – implies being answerable and liable. Describes accredited institutions’ responsibility to students, regulatory agencies, and business and industry.
- Commitment - requires dedication of institutions, volunteers, Commissioners and staff. Denotes allegiance, loyalty, and obligation.
- Flexibility – the ability to adapt to both internal and external market changes while maintaining core values. Implies resilience and being open to modification and change.
- Planning – a blueprint for expectations for the future. Addresses the expanded learning economy, student preparedness, and cultural understanding.
- Sharing – making cooperative use of resources and best practices. Accomplished by institutions through collaboration and communities of practice.
Mary E. Smith, Center Director of the Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, said she is excited about continuing the long-standing tradition of Oconaluftee being accredited by COE. She expresses appreciation to Danny Muse, academic manager, for the leadership he has provided in overseeing all of the work groups. She also wishes to thank all the staff for their assistance in working through this process.
Smith related she is looking forward to the week of May 14 through 18 as the COE task force will be at the Center to perform their on-site observations.