Pratt Community College is preparing for re-accreditation that is scheduled for 2020.

Although 2020 is still two years away, Pratt Community College is already working to prepare for a vital assessment that will take place that year have an important impact on the college as a teaching institution.

In 2020, the Higher Learning Commission will put PCC through a comprehensive evaluation as the key element for the college to receive affirmation of accreditation, a critical rating necessary for the college to function as an accredited institution.

This rating is so critical to the college, PCC President Michael Calvert asked for and received permission to hire Gene George of Gene George Consulting to evaluate the status of every college department, advise of any changes that need to be made and ultimately produce a Systems Portfolio that is the most accurate account of every department on campus.

The Portfolio will go to the HLC and they will make any recommendations for changes they feel are needed. Then they will come to the campus sometime in 2020 to evaluate each department and see if those changes have been made. If they are satisfied the college meets all their requirements, they will be accredited for anther eight years.

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved to hire George's services for approximately $108,000, paid in $3,000 increments due on the last day of every month George is on the job.

The College is not waiting for George to begin his evaluation in preparation for accreditation. Each department is being evaluated on a rotating basis to assure they are meeting all criteria necessary for accreditation, Calvert said.

While the college is very good at self evaluation and taking steps to correct any deficiencies, Calvert wants to take no chances so he felt, and the Trustees agreed, that hiring George was in the best interest of the college to maintain their accreditation.

Part of Calvert's concern is based on the current status of the PCC nursing program, that was denied accreditation by the Accreditation Commissioner for Education in Nursing because the first time passing rates for the National Council Licensure Examination, a necessary exam to be come a nurse, has fallen below the required passing percentage on the first time taking the exam.

Since then, the nursing program has put it's Associate Degree in Nursing program on hold and is evaluating every aspect of the program to get it's first time passing rates back to the required level. The Practical nursing program at the college continues operations as usual and has NCLEX first time passing rates that meet or exceed the required passing percentage.

But the ADN set back has cost the college financially and Calvert is determined that every department will meet everything required to receive accreditation.

"This is something we cannot take for granted," Calvert said. "I'm very concerned about this process. We take this very seriously."

George understands what the HLC wants and expects to see. Calvert invited George to come to the PCC campus three weeks ago to meet with the faculty and the AQIP teams. Calvert had prior knowledge of George and had seen his previous work. With changes in HLC since the last accreditation back in 2012, it was imperative PCC has the best help it can get and George is that man.

"I trust this man explicitly," Calvert said. "Gene speaks their language."

If a college doesn't get accreditation, they are put on probation and that can hurt revenue. One Kansas community college has just come off probation, one is currently on probation and a third may go on probation because they didn't meet HLC standards.

As far as the ADN program goes, the first time NCLEX pass rates have improved substantially and are now above the state required level, Calvert said.

The State Board of Nursing will be on the PCC campus to evaluate progress in the ADN program and the nursing department is feeling positive about the changes and what the SBN will find during their visit.