Jantz outlines Assessment Day, accreditation context
Every year, Bethel College seniors undergo Assessment Day – a day dedicated to benchmark testing as a resource for the institution to, if needed, adjust academic goals for its enrollees.
Allen Jantz, head of the Assessment Day committee who has served the Bethel community for 26 years, understands the pivotal role Assessment day plays in the Thresher experience.
“From a student aspect, there’s been very little information about assessment day,” Jantz said. “And that's something the committee has talked about – wanting to see an increase in student participation so they’d understand more about what's going on,” Jantz said.
He continued, “From an administration standpoint, Assessment Day is about the institution assessing and evaluating its goals. … We focus on the five general education goals, which deal with programs of study. We also look at PJCS – peace, justice, and conflict studies – cross cultural learning, and the competencies that students are required to take,”.
As for day-to-day instruction, Jantz notes that students shouldn’t expect any major changes on that front. Instead, Assessment Day aims at broader, more abstract long-term adjustments to enhance Bethel’s learning environment.
“I've been here for 26 years, and I don’t believe the general education goals for the institution have changed since I've been here,” Jantz said. “So one of the things we would like to see is whether or not these goals are still appropriate for the current student body – are these the things that are still important to us?”
“From an instructional perspective, I'm not sure students will notice a marked change based on Assessment Day,” Jantz added. “It would be more looking toward the broader goals – which might change some of the requirements students have to meet to graduate,” Jantz said.
Jantz was also able to provide insight into Bethel’s accreditation process over the past two years. In summer 2020, the school was cited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and placed on its ‘On Notice’ list. In November of 2021, the HLC officially removed its citations, freeing Bethel from the list.
These movements have played a significant role in the Assessment Day committee’s decision-making process.
“My perspective on accreditation is colored a little bit by my previous work with accrediting agencies. The HLC sets certain standards that Bethel has to meet. And at the last accreditation visit, the school got cited for two of those standards, so the HLC just wanted Bethel to show more clearly that they were actually meeting those standards,”Jantz said.
He added, “I would say that sometimes with accreditation – what institutions are held accountable to – depends on the group of peer reviewers that come in. Certain standards are more meaningful to some than other standards, and I think that's what happened last time. … Sometimes it's like chasing a moving target.”
In November, Bethel was able to get itself out of muddy waters with the HLC. That paves the way for smooth sailing and a return to normalcy for Jantz, the Assessment Day committee, and all of the institution’s moving parts. And the way they did it was simple.
“I think it was just a case of ‘we now know what you want us to fix so we can show you what we're doing’, because I don't think we're doing anything different,” Jantz said. “We just showed them what they missed on their first visit.”