Council adopts revised standards
The Accrediting Council in September adopted a new set of accrediting standards. This action was the final step in a process that lasted more than two years. The revisions represent the most significant changes to the standards since the current set of 12 standards was adopted in 1984.
The most obvious differences are that the new set numbers nine standards rather than 12, and it includes an entirely new standard focused on assessment. The committee that developed the revisions reduced the total number by combining the content areas of several of the current standards.
Schools to be visited during 2005 – 2006 should prepare their self-studies based on the new standards. In practice, this means that the Council staff will prepare new self-study documents for distribution in late summer of 2004.
Decisions about these schools’ accrediting status will be based on the existing standards and forms. The reports based on the new structure are intended to get the Committee and Council accustomed to the new presentation, and to gain experience that can be provided to teams the following year.
Following the indicators are lists of evidence that schools could use to demonstrate compliance with the indicators. The list of evidence for each standard is only a guide to possible forms of evidence; schools need not present all, and can present other items in addition.
The Council in September 2003 made three alterations to its Principles of Accreditation. Two changes take into account the interest in accreditation by schools outside the United States. The Council removed references to the First Amendment, referring instead to the freedoms and principles underlying it and expecting programs abroad to teach and promote these principles.
The third change strengthens the Council’s statement on ethical practice.
The changes in the principles will go into effect in September 2004.
Click to: the changes in detail.
It’s simple: All accredited schools should have assessment plans in place now.
According to the schedule adopted by the Council two years ago, all schools must have plans in place for assessment of educational outcomes by the beginning of the 2003 – 2004 academic year; must act on these plans to collect information during this year; and must begin applying findings from the assessments to improve curricula, instruction and learning starting in the 2004 – 2005 academic year.
Plans to be
The Council may drop this request in a few years when team members, the Accrediting Committee and the Council have become more familiar with how plans work in practice.
The Council at its September meeting backed away from a proposal for fully separate reviews of professional master’s programs. Instead, the committee that developed the proposal will examine the newly adopted standards to find places where criteria could be added, expanded or adapted to apply to graduate programs.
The proposal represented the latest step in a long process of revamping the Council’s methods for reviewing master’s programs. It was based on the new standards and criteria adopted for undergraduate reviews, with some additions and alterations to apply to graduate programs.
A big pill
In the end, members decided not to adopt the proposal as presented, although they praised the committee for clarifying the nature of graduate education and offering a process whereby programs could continue to define their goals in widely varying ways.
The next step
Consultants no longer will be banned forever from taking part in evaluations of schools they have visited. The Council in September amended its policy on conflict of interest to allow consultants to return to the process 15 years after their involvement with the school.
Members pointed out that most consultants are basically disinterested and neutral in the first place. They also said that after 15 years circumstances at the school almost certainly would have changed substantially and that two accreditation cycles would have passed without the consultant’s influence.
The amended policy will go into effect in September 2004.
Council President Jerry Ceppos has appointed members to three committees. A newly created group, the Planning and Procedures Committee, will consider long-term issues such as possible changes in length of the accreditation cycle and the duration of provisional accreditation.
The Council agreed at its September meeting to organize its discussions regarding accreditation decisions more formally, with the intent of fostering greater consistency. The agendas for discussions of schools by the Committee and Council will be more structured than before.
Members decided to place at the top of the agenda schools found to comply with all standards. They also decided to discuss consecutively those schools seeking initial accreditation and to do the same with those schools for which the team has recommended provisional accreditation. Members hope this will help to achieve more consistency in discussions and decisions.
Because of existing commitments, the 2004 Committee meeting will not adhere strictly to this structure, but subsequent Committee meetings and spring Council meetings will do so.return to top
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Perkins worked as a reporter at the Deseret News, Provo, Utah, and the Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal, and he taught at Drake University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He held a law degree and had recently been named head of the media law division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
Edward Adams has been named chair of the department at Brigham Young.
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