Focused on Hands-On Preparation
For more than 30 years, Reid State Technical College has been distinguished for its outstanding technical education with the honor of COE accreditation. The Evergreen, Alabama institution opened its doors in 1966, but its focus on hands-on training for in-demand fields now attracts around 400 students each semester. Students are also drawn to the intimate class sizes, hometown feel and the school’s focus on a rapid transition to the workforce.
Its programs include Business Administration Technology, Commercial Truck Driving, Cosmetology, Cosmetology Instructor Training, Health Sciences, Industrial Electricity Electronics Technology, Industrial Maintenance, Nursing Assistant Program, Practical Nursing, Business Administration Technology, and Welding Technology. Reid State also offers special business and industrial training, continuing education classes, dual enrollment programs with local high schools, adult education courses and a Ready to Work program offering free basic job training to Alabama residents. The school’s business and industry partnerships ensure programs reflect up-to-date topics and relevant development skills.
“We offer those skills and programs that are very relevant in terms of high-demand, fast-growing careers in our state and region,” says Dr. Coretta Boykin, Dean of Instruction/Workforce Development at Reid State Technical College. “Our programs focus on getting trained and into the workforce very quickly in order to serve our community.”
The Challenge of Getting to Work Quickly
Just as Reid State prepares students with the critical skills and training to get to work quickly, the school has learned that it’s critical to do the same when preparing for the COE reaccreditation process. Reid State needs to be reaccredited every six years. This involves extensive planning, detailed reporting and an in-person COE visit to evaluate the school on its quality of instruction, relevance of training and ability to develop students holistically.
“COE represents that holistic approach to student development and makes sure that a school has the resources to help students develop both academically and psychologically,” explains Dr. Boykin.
To prepare for the reaccreditation process, Reid State has standing COE committees and strategic planning committees, with individuals responsible for different areas of reporting, from developing standards to documenting implementation. Faculty and staff are involved in constant documentation. Their findings are presented to Dr. Boykin, who compiles all of the data collected before an on-site team visit.
“It takes at least a year and a half to prepare for a COE visit,” explains Dr. Boykin, who serves as Chair of the committee responsible for the school’s reaccreditation process. “The key is starting very early. The most challenging part is collecting data on a regular basis, so your staff and faculty must understand why documentation and strategic processes are truly important.”
In a Class of Its Own
On-site COE visits may appear relatively brief to an outside observer, but the list of assessments is lengthy as appointed experts review documentation, tour facilities, evaluate programs, and conduct faculty and student interviews. The final reaccreditation determination is delivered by the 20-member board of COE Commissioners after all evaluation documentation is complete. While this process may be demanding, Reid State recommends that other technical schools seek COE accreditation for the way it contributes to student success. In fact, Reid State is closely involved with COE and sends select staff members to present at annual meetings, in addition to showing other schools the best practices for accreditation.
“Since COE is technically focused, their processes and structure are specific and relevant to what’s going on in the business and the industry,” says Dr. Boykin. “In the long run, COE saves taxpayer dollars by ensuring schools offer only quality, relevant programs that put people to work.”