Performance Standards

The new Standards, varying in number based on institution type, are organized under three Domains:

  1. Leadership Capacity
  2. Learning Capacity
  3. Resource Capacity

The Domains are statements that define the capacity of an organization or institution to provide quality and meet the rigorous demands of continuous improvement. Each Domain is further defined by Standards.

The Cognia Performance Standards are research-based statements that describe conditions that are necessary for institutions to support organizational effectiveness and improve student performance.

Collectively, the elements of the Cognia Performance Standards serve as a road map for the continuous improvement process for institutions and as the foundation of the accreditation process used by Cognia Review Teams to provide relevant and quality feedback on how institutions are serving the learner.

1. Leadership Capacity Domain

Standard 1.1: The institution commits to a purpose statement that defines beliefs about teaching and learning, including the expectations for learners.
Standard 1.2: Stakeholders collectively demonstrate actions to ensure the achievement of the institution’s purpose and desired outcomes for learning.
Standard 1.3: The institution engages in a continuous improvement process that produces evidence, including measurable results of improving student learning and professional practice.
Standard 1.4: The governing authority establishes and ensures adherence to policies that are designed to support institutional effectiveness.
Standard 1.5: The governing authority adheres to a code of ethics and functions within defined roles and responsibilities.
Standard 1.6: Leaders implement staff supervision and evaluation processes to improve professional practice and organizational effectiveness.
Standard 1.7: Leaders implement operational processes and procedures to ensure organizational effectiveness in support of teaching and learning.
Standard 1.8: Leaders engage stakeholders to support the achievement of the institution’s purpose and direction.
Standard 1.9: The institution provides experiences that cultivate and improve leadership effectiveness.
Standard 1.10: Leaders collect and analyze a range of feedback data from multiple stakeholder groups to inform decision-making that results in improvement.
Standard 1.11: Leaders implement policies and processes aligned with the institutional purpose to disclose current and accurate information to the public.
Standard 1.12: Leaders monitor programs for alignment with recognized industry standards and/or market needs.

The impact of teaching and learning on student achievement and success is the primary expectation of every institution. An effective learning culture is characterized by positive and productive teacher/learner relationships, high expectations and standards, a challenging and engaging curriculum, quality instruction and comprehensive support that enable all learners to be successful, and assessment practices (formative and summative) that monitor and measure learner progress and achievement. Moreover, a quality institution evaluates the impact of its learning culture, including all programs and support services, and adjusts accordingly.

2. Learning Capacity Domain

Standard 2.1: Learners have equitable opportunities to develop skills and achieve the content and learning priorities established by the institution.
Standard 2.2: The learning culture promotes creativity, innovation and collaborative problem-
Standard 2.3: The institution’s learning culture cultivates learners’ attitudes, beliefs and skills needed for success.
Standard 2.4: The institution implements, evaluates and monitors student support services to foster students’ success with the educational experience.
Standard 2.5: Educators implement a curriculum based on high expectations and prepares learners for future success.
Standard 2.6: The institution implements a process to ensure the curriculum is aligned to standards and best practices.
Standard 2.7: Instruction is monitored and adjusted to meet individual learners’ needs and the institution’s learning expectations.
Standard 2.8: Learning progress is reliably assessed and consistently and clearly communicated.
Standard 2.9: Educators gather, analyze and use assessment data that lead to demonstrable improvement of student learning.
Standard 2.10: The institution implements a process to continuously assess its programs and organizational conditions to improve student learning.

3. Resource Capacity Domain

The use and distribution of resources support the stated mission of the institution. Institutions ensure that resources are distributed and utilized equitably so that the needs of all learners are adequately and effectively addressed. The utilization of resources includes support for professional learning for all staff. The institution examines the allocation and use of resources to ensure appropriate levels of funding, sustainability, organizational effectiveness, and increased student learning.

Standard 3.1: The institution provides professional learning opportunities to improve the learning environment, learner achievement and the institution’s effectiveness.
Standard 3.2: The institution’s professional learning structure and expectations promote
collaboration and collegiality to improve learner performance and organizational
Standard 3.3: The institution provides induction, mentoring, and coaching programs that ensure all
staff members have the knowledge and skills to improve student performance and organizational effectiveness.
Standard 3.4: The institution attracts and retains qualified personnel who support the institution’s purpose and direction.
Standard 3.5: The institution integrates digital resources into teaching, learning, and operations to
improve professional practice, student performance, and organizational effectiveness.
Standard 3.6: The institution provides access to information resources and materials to support the curriculum, programs, and needs of students, staff, and the institution.
Standard 3.7: The institution demonstrates strategic resource management that includes long-range planning and use of resources in support of the institution’s purpose and direction.
Standard 3.8: The institution allocates human, material, and fiscal resources in alignment with the institution’s identified needs and priorities to improve student performance and organizational effectiveness.


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