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Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)


This page provides information about Palo Alto College’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which focuses on implementing embedded tutoring in high-challenge courses. Embedded tutoring connects students to tutors who are in the classroom and can offer immediate support. Just-in-time tutoring assistance provides students with a tangible bridge connecting them to course content, their tutor, their classroom community, and, ultimately, academic success.


What is a QEP?

The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a component of the reaffirmation process required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). It reflects and affirms the College’s commitment to enhance overall institutional quality and effectiveness by developing a formal plan that focuses on an issue the institution considers important to improving specific student learning outcomes and/or student success. 

What is Palo Alto College’s QEP?

In June 2020, the College community selected Embedded Tutoring in High-Challenge Courses as the QEP topic. 

  • A high-challenge course is a course with an enrollment over 100 and a Productive Grade Rate (PGR) below 70%.
  • Embedded tutoring brings tutors into the classroom. Tutors attend all class sessions and provide immediate assistance to students with course content.



Which high-challenge courses will have embedded tutors?
  • BIOL 2401 Anatomy & Physiology I
  • ENGL 1301+ Composition I (with a developmental corequisite)
  • MATH 1314+ College Algebra (with a developmental corequisite)
What is the timeline for the QEP?

The QEP is a five-year project extending from Spring 2022-Spring 2027 and has three phases. 

  • Phase I: Pre-Implementation Preparation - Spring 2022 - Summer 2022
  • Phase II: Implementation - Fall 2022 - Spring 2025
    • Embedded Tutoring Iteration #1 Fall 2022 – Spring 2023
    • Embedded Tutoring Iteration #2 Fall 2023 – Spring 2024
    • Embedded Tutoring Iteration #3 Fall 2024 – Spring 2025
  • Phase III: Post-Implementation  Evaluation - Fall 2025 - Spring 2027



How will the QEP work? 
  • At the core of the QEP is a three-year (6-semester) Implementation Phase when embedded tutoring will be applied to on-campus, face-to-face sections of MATH 1314+, ENGL 1301+, and BIOL 2401.
  • Eight faculty and eight tutors will be paired each semester. Four faculty-tutor teams will be assigned to Math 1314+, two faculty-tutor teams will be assigned to BIOL 2401, and two faculty tutor teams will be assigned to ENGL 1301+.
  • Each faculty-tutor team will be assigned two sections per term.
  • Embedded tutoring will be implemented in 16 high-challenge course sections each term of the six semester QEP:
    • 8 sections of MATH 1314+ each semester
    • 4 sections of BIOL 2401 each semester
    • 4 sections of ENGL 1301+ each semester
  • Each summer, embedded tutoring faculty and tutor teams will prepare for the next academic year by attending a 2-day workshop focusing on best practices in embedded tutoring.
How will the QEP improve student success?

The QEP has been designed to help students achieve four Learning Outcomes which will be regularly assessed throughout the 3-year Implementation Phase. 


  1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of course content.
  2. Students will report an increase in self-confidence.
  3. Students will develop a positive perception of tutoring.
  4. Student will report an increased sense of classroom belonging.

These outcomes will be assessed quantitatively through course performance metrics and qualitatively through student survey and focus group data.  Faculty and tutors will be surveyed at the end of each term to identify successes and areas for improvement.

Key Dates in the QEP Timeline

17 August 2021

QEP Update to the PAC community at Fall Convocation

3 September 2021

Quality Enhancement Plan sent to SACSCOC

September – October 2021

QEP promotional activities
Celebrate & Share Breakfast focused on QEP

25-28 October 2021

SACSCOC Reaffirmation Team Site Visit to PAC

January 2022

Response, if needed, to SACSCOC recommendations about the QEP

February 2022

Identify QEP Co-Directors

Spring 2022

Identify faculty and tutors for fall QEP implementation

Summer 2022

First Embedded Tutoring Summer Workshop (May)
Review of PAC’s Reaffirmation Status by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees (June)

Fall 2022

QEP implementation begins

SACSCOC Resources

The Quality Enhancement Plan Framework (December 2018)

SACSCOC Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation (February 2020 edition)

Palo Alto College Resources

QEP Executive Summary (PDF)

PAC Quality Enhancement Plan Document (PDF)

QEP Flyer (PDF)

Why are we doing a QEP?

The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is part of the College’s accreditation process. The regional accrediting body, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), requires its member institutions to develop and implement, over a five-year period,  a detailed, carefully designed action plan that addresses a focused, well-defined topic or issue pertaining to the enhancement of student learning outcomes and/or student success.

The Quality Enhancement Plan provides an opportunity for the College to identify a specific aspect of student learning/student success that can be improved and then develop a detailed comprehensive plan to effect improvement.

The QEP aligns with the College’s Strategic Direction of Student Empowerment, an enduring  institutional commitment to help students succeed academically and professionally.

How does SACSCOC evaluate the QEP?

Palo Alto College’s regional accrediting body, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), will evaluate the Quality Enhancement Plan on five criteria:

  1. Topic: The institution identified a topic through its ongoing, comprehensive planning and evaluation processes.
  2. Broad-based Support: The topic has broad-based support of institutional constituencies.
  3. Focus: The plan focuses on improving specific student learning outcomes and/or student success.
  4. Resources: The institution commits resources to initiate, implement, and complete the QEP.
  5. Assessment: The institution has developed a plan to assess the achievement of its QEP.
How was the QEP topic selected?

Starting in August 2019, a series of college-wide presentations created the backdrop for the selection of a QEP topic grounded in the College’s quest for continuous improvement.  Presentation topics included:  the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, the College’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and current institutional and student data. Concurrent with the campus-wide data review, an employee survey was launched to identify possible QEP topics.   

In January 2020, a student survey was conducted to identify students’ perceptions of the challenges that impeded their success as learners. Four key themes emerged in both the employee survey and the student survey.  These four intersecting themes highlighted a need for:  1) more opportunities for active learning, 2) more supportive faculty-student connections, 3) more tutoring resources, and 4) more focus on boosting students’ self-confidence. Each theme suggested numerous strategies that could serve as a QEP focus.  A survey of members of the Faculty Senate and Staff Senate in May 2020 narrowed the many possible QEP strategies to six QEP finalists.

In June 2020, a representative cross section of the College (faculty, staff, students, and administrators) met for an in-depth discussion of each of the six finalists that culminated in the selection of the QEP topic.


Six QEP Finalists

Career Services
Cohorted Learning
Growth Mindset
Learning Communities in High-Challenge Courses
Experiential/Service/Co-curricular Learning
Tutors Embedded in High-Challenge Courses


An advocate for each of the finalists facilitated a research-based presentation linking the finalist to relevant institutional data and student need.   Each presentation was followed by questions and extensive discussion that underscored the rationale for choosing the finalist as the College’s QEP topic.

After in-depth discussions of each of the six finalists concluded, a vote was taken to select the College’s QEP topic. “Tutors Embedded in High-Challenge Courses” garnered the most support.

The following graphic illustrates the continuous interconnection between institutional data and the voices of the college community that characterized the topic selection process. 

QEP Selection Process image




Jennifer Scheidt, Chair, English, INRW & Foreign Languages

Co-Director, QEP Planning Committee


Thomas Murguia, Director of Tutoring

Co-Director, QEP Planning Committee