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LaGuardia passes review

The innovative methods LaGuardia Community College uses to track how their students are learning from their first to final assignments helped it get reaccredited with the Middle States Association.
TimesLedger Newspapers

Long Island City’s LaGuardia Community College celebrated a successful re-accreditation with Middle States recently. Using a set of distinct standards, the nonprofit review association named the borough institution exceptional for its innovative programs and tracking of how much students are learning.

“LaGuardia received high marks during our critically important accreditation process, one more sign of LaGuardia’s well-deserved reputation as a national leader in higher education,” LaGuardia President Dr. Gail Mellow said in a statement.

The Middle States Association judges whether schools in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are meeting their educational goals. Its Commission on Higher Education accredits colleges and universities.

LaGuardia, at 31-10 Thomson Ave., has now received its fourth re-accreditation with Middle States since it opened in 1971. Before receiving re-accreditation, the college needed to go through a two-year self-survey, which was headed by English professor Gordon Tapper.

“It was a great learning experience for me as a professor,” Tapper said. “It made me see how all the different parts of the college fit together.”

Tapper said the self-review process included 14 separate committees dedicated to analyzing a different standard the college is expected to meet. These standards include everything from the college’s mission, to its curriculum, to the college’s everyday operations, to its strategic planning, to how well the students learn. The self-study also incorporated input from about 150 administrators, faculty and students.

“You want it to be very inclusive and broad and people from all over the college,” Tapper said.

The professor said Middle States recognized LaGuardia for its honors program — in the last five years the college has doubled its honors courses and the students participating have more than doubled — and its adult education program, which is the largest in the City University of New York system.

It has also excelled for having its professors developing separate courses together, creating themes for a mutual curriculum and coordinating English classes with general education classes for non-native speakers.

“We have a lot of evidence that really increases success with the students,” Tapper said.

Middle States also commended the college for its assessment of students’ learning. Tapper said the college has tracked this in part through an anonymous database that allows faculty to compare thousands of examples of student work from the beginning to the end of their time at LaGuardia to see how they have progressed.

Tapper said the self-study has the dual function of proving the college is in compliance and with seeing where the college needs improvement. He said the college is making a major effort to improve its academic advising department in light of the study.

“So it does help set some of the agenda for the next five years,” he said.

More information about LaGuardia’s re-accreditation can be found at lagcc.cuny.edu/middlestates.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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