American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
 

Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA)

Candidacy Manual

II. Submission and Review Expectations

The CAA's candidacy model and its compliance expectations were designed to be consistent with the expectations of the institution of higher education in the development of a new graduate degree program. Key program components, such as curriculum, personnel, and budget, are subject to planning and approval processes at the institutional and state levels. Programs may be able to use the supporting documentation developed for institutional and state approval processes to address and/or supplement the reporting requirements in CAA's application process.

CAA's review model includes the following review steps and processes, which are described in this chapter:

Expected review and reporting time lines are described in Appendix B for a typical program. A program may submit its application for review at any time; final decisions awarding candidacy status will occur only during the CAA's decision-making meetings, as described below.

Level I: Readiness Review

The CAA designed the stepwise candidacy model to include the conduct of a readiness review of a completed candidacy application by the council. Level I consists of verification of all eligibility conditions and a "pre"-review of the program's development plan to determine the program's readiness to submit an official application for CAA review and conduct of a site visit leading to a candidacy decision. The program is expected to submit a complete application signed by the institution's president or designee, including the candidacy application fee, at least 18 months in advance of the planned student enrollment date.

As indicated in the Eligibility section above, the institution and program must have conducted a self-study that forms the basis for documenting its development and standards compliance plan. This analysis should identify the extent to which CAA accreditation standards are met at the time of application and how all standards will be met by the end of the candidacy cycle. The parent institution of higher education and the appropriate state authority must have approved the program's development plan, and must verify the intent to implement it fully. The CAA expects that most standards will be met and that the program will have implemented its development plan by the time students matriculate into the program.

A description and appropriate documentation about the program's compliance level for each of the Standards for Accreditation of Graduate Education Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology must be submitted as the central component of the candidacy application, in accordance with the guidelines below. The program must consider the CAA's expectations for the program's demonstration of appropriate planning, implementation of its plan (compliance with standards), and maintenance of standards compliance and, as appropriate, program improvement as outlined in the Standards Compliance Continuum.

A non-refundable application fee must be submitted with the candidacy application for the review process to be initiated. Applications submitted without a fee will be returned to the program as incomplete.

The CAA will pre-review the complete application document and appendices, verify whether all eligibility conditions have been met, provide substantive feedback related to compliance with the accreditation standards where appropriate, and advise the program on its readiness to proceed with submitting the official application into the formal candidacy application and review process. This pre-review process affords the program an opportunity to consider the council's feedback, edit the application document, and potentially strengthen the candidacy application before submitting the official application for a formal Council review and decision.

Criteria to Determine Readiness:

  • Applicant program and sponsoring institution of higher education meet all eligibility requirements for candidacy status
  • Application is complete, including all signatures, appendices, requested attachments, and fees
  • Submitted application adequately addresses timely and achievable compliance with each and all accreditation standards according to the compliance continuum matrix, and
  • Documented evidence is presented to support compliance with accreditation standards consistent with readiness expectations on the compliance continuum matrix

Review Steps

The Council staff will conduct a preliminary administrative review of all applications to determine completeness and will contact the program for additional information, as appropriate. Staff may return to the program for resubmission those applications that are incomplete, completed inappropriately, do not include all eligibility documentation, or do not include the application fee.

The review of the candidacy application will be assigned to members of the Candidacy Subcommittee, consistent with the CAA's Policy on Conflict of Interest. If a conflict is present, an alternate Council member will be identified as a primary reviewer for the application. A list of concerns or observations from the Council reviewers' consideration of the application will be compiled and forwarded to the program, including a statement about eligibility status. These comments will provide the program with feedback about areas for program improvement and/or compliance with standards and must be addressed in the program's response in subsequent reports.

Readiness Decision Options

The CAA will provide written notification to the program director and the president of the institution, or the president's designee, of its decision, which will be one of the following possible actions:

Accept As Official Application (Accelerated Review): Applicant program and sponsoring institution met all eligibility requirements and provided a comprehensive compliance development plan and documentation sufficient to support expected compliance at this stage and adequate support for continued development. In addition, evidence was provided to support compliance consistent with the next level of review (Level II: Application).

Accept: Applicant program and sponsoring institution met all eligibility requirements and provided a comprehensive compliance development plan and documentation sufficient to support expected compliance at this stage and adequate support for continued development. The program must respond to feedback by incorporating information or modifications into its application before candidacy review can continue (See Level II: Official Application.) The program is required to submit its official application within 6 months of notice from CAA.

Not Accepted: Applicant program's submission did not meet all of the criteria listed for this level of review. The program may re-submit without penalty or additional application fees, provided an application is submitted within 6 months of notice.

A decision to not accept a program for readiness after the first pre-review is not subject to appeal.

In cases where the CAA determines that the program is not ready to proceed with the submission of the official application and conduct of a site visit, programs may consider the feedback, edit the document and re-submit for a readiness review one additional time within 6 months of the notice of CAA's response. Failure to re-submit within this time frame will result in the file being closed. The applicant program may submit a new signed candidacy application without prejudice, along with a new application fee, should it wish to initiate the candidacy review process in the future, provided it is able to meet all the eligibility conditions.

If the Candidacy Subcommittee deems the applicant program's application not ready a second time, the full CAA will review and render a decision. A decision to not accept a program's readiness after the second review is subject to appeal and the program is advised of its option to seek further consideration of the CAA's decision, as described below.

When the CAA judges that a program has not met the criteria for readiness as it relates to the candidacy policy and accreditation standards, the CAA will provide written notification to the program's director and the institution's president, or the president's designee, that candidacy has been withheld. Notification also includes rationale for the decision and informs the program of its option to request a Further Consideration review. Further Consideration is the mechanism whereby the program can present documented evidence of compliance with the appropriate standards and request that the CAA reevaluate its decision to not allow the program to proceed towards submitting its official candidacy application.

If the program chooses to request a Further Consideration review, the program's request and written documentation to clarify and support its compliance with the cited standards must be received in the Accreditation Office within 30 days from the date of notification. Within two months of receiving the applicant program's Further Consideration request and materials, the CAA will review the file and make a decision about the program's readiness towards candidacy. The CAA chair will provide written notification to the program's director and the institution's president or president's designee of the Council's decision. If the program does not exercise its Further Consideration option, the CAA's decision to deny readiness/approval cannot be appealed.

Further Consideration – Financial  If the decision to withhold candidacy status was based solely upon a program’s failure to meet a standard pertaining to finances, the program may on one occasion seek review by the CAA of significant financial information that was unavailable to the program prior to the decision to withhold candidacy, and that bears materially on the financial deficiencies identified by the CAA. The new financial information submitted by the program must meet the criteria of significance and materiality for consideration by the CAA prior to the decision to withhold candidacy becomes final. Any determination made by the CAA with respect to the new financial information described above is not separately appealable by the program.

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Level II: Official Application, Candidacy Site Visit, and Candidacy Decision

Submission of Official Application

After notification that the CAA deemed the applicant program ready to proceed in the candidacy application process, the program should consider the council's feedback from the pre-review of the program's preliminary submission and incorporate new information or data, as appropriate. The program must submit its official application within 6 months of the readiness notification. Note: If the CAA accepted the preliminary submission as the official application, the program may proceed directly to the site visit phase (i.e., accelerated review).

Review Steps

The Council staff will conduct a preliminary administrative review of the application to determine completeness and will contact the program for additional information, as appropriate. Staff may return to the program for resubmission those applications that are incomplete or completed inappropriately. The program must integrate any clarifying or new information within the candidacy application when re-submitting the application. Note: this information will not be accepted as an addendum to the application. Candidacy applications that contain clarifying or new information as addenda will be returned to the program and may delay the review process and the program's potential to meet planned milestone events.

The review of the candidacy application will be assigned to members of the CAA's Candidacy Subcommittee, consistent with the CAA's policy on conflict of interest. If a conflict is present, an alternate Council member will be identified as a primary review for the application. If candidacy is subsequently awarded, this team of reviewers will follow the application through all steps of the Candidacy program, including subsequent annual progress reports.

The official application will be reviewed by the CAA and feedback provided to the program prior to the time of the candidacy site visit. The program will have opportunity to respond to the CAA's observations in advance of the candidacy site visit. After review of the CAA's initial observations, a program may withdraw the application or elect to proceed with scheduling the candidacy site visit. Within 30 days from the date of the letter of initial observations, the program director should notify the CAA of the decision to either proceed with a candidacy site visit or withdraw the program's application.

The program's name will be included in the Public Comment section of the CAA's Web site as an official applicant for candidacy. Written comment will be invited in accord with CAA's Policy on Public Comment. All public comments will be processed as described in this policy.

Candidacy Site Visit

As part of the candidacy decision process, the CAA will conduct a candidacy site visit to the program. The purposes of the candidacy site visit are to:

  • verify accuracy of information provided in the application and resolve questions/concerns that arose from review of the application,
  • directly observe program resources and space on campus and interact with program leadership,
  • document that compliance with accreditation standards was verified, consistent with CAA's expectations to award candidacy,
  • facilitate CAA's decision-making for new programs by providing a written report of the visit

The Council staff will forward the applicant program a list of candidacy site visitors and request that the program identify any persons with whom the program has a conflict of interest. The program must provide two sets of possible dates for the visit, during which the program director and key administrators would be available to meet with the candidacy site visit team. The candidacy site visit team will consist of two visitors, including an academic member and a practitioner member, in the same area of study/profession as the applicant program. Upon receipt of the program-reviewed list of potential visitors and available dates, a team will be assigned and notification sent to the program director. Typically, the candidacy site visit will be conducted within one semester from the date of official application; the visit must be conducted within one year from the official application date.

The candidacy site visitors assigned to the team are provided a copy of the program's official application, CAA's observations, the program's response to these observations, and any written public comment in advance of the visit. At least 30 days prior to the time the candidacy site visit is conducted, the program must submit a response to any CAA initial observations that are identified as requiring a response prior to the candidacy site visit. Additional information also may be submitted at this time. These materials will be forwarded to the candidacy site visit team, the Council chair and reviewers, and a copy will be placed in the master file at the National Office as part of the program record. The program should be prepared to discuss all initial observations with the candidacy site visit team at the time of the site visit.

A candidacy site visit report is filed by the site visit chair within 30 days after the candidacy site visit. The candidacy site visit report is sent to the program and the institution's president or designee within 45 days of the candidacy site visit, to respond to the report and provide clarification or correct any inaccuracies in the report. The program's response to the report is then provided to the candidacy site visitors for any final comments.

The program is invoiced for the site visit fee after the conduct of the candidacy site visit.

Candidacy Decision Options

All materials related to the candidacy review, including the application, CAA's observations, the candidacy site visit report, any written public comments, the program's responses to the initial observations and the candidacy site visit report, and any final comments by the candidacy site visit team, are again reviewed by the assigned CAA reviewers.

The full CAA will consider the candidacy applicant program's file and render a decision to award candidacy, withhold candidacy, or defer for additional information at its next formal decision-making meeting, typically March and July of each year.

The CAA will provide written notification to the program director and the president of the institution or the president's designee of its decision, from among the following possible actions:

Award Candidacy - The CAA determined that the program was in sufficient compliance with the Standards for Accreditation, as outlined in the Standards Compliance Continuum. The program will be awarded a candidacy cycle of 5 years, listed as an accreditation candidate, and included in all official lists of candidate programs by the CAA. Award of candidacy allows the program to matriculate students into the program as it continues to document compliance with accreditation standards for the duration of the candidacy accreditation cycle.

Withhold Candidacy - The CAA determined that the program was not in compliance or had not made sufficient progress towards compliance to meet expected developments as outlined in its application and as required in the Standards Compliance Continuum. A decision to withhold candidacy status of an applicant program is appealable.

When the CAA judges that a program is not in compliance with the standards, the CAA will provide written notification to the program's director and the institution's president, or the president's designee, that candidacy has been withheld. Notification also includes the rationale for the decision and informs the program of its option to request a Further Consideration review. Further Consideration is the mechanism whereby the program can present documented evidence of compliance with the appropriate standards and request that the CAA reconsider its decision to withhold candidacy status.

If the program chooses to request a Further Consideration review, the request must be received within 30 days from the date of notification. With the request for a Further Consideration review, the program must submit written documentation to justify why candidacy should not be withheld. If the program requests Further Consideration, the CAA will decide within 2 months of receiving the program's request whether to award or withhold Candidacy. The CAA will notify the program's director and the institution's president or president's designee of the Council's decision. If the program does not exercise its Further Consideration option, the CAA's decision to withhold candidacy cannot be appealed.

Defer For Additional Information - The CAA may choose to defer making a final decision on Candidacy only when there is insufficient information upon which to base a decision. The CAA will specify a date by which additional information must be submitted and when the decision will be made. Deferral permits a program to provide essential clarifying information or evidence of progress regarding possible non-compliance with the standards at the request of the Council.

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Level III: Program Improvement/Maintenance (Annual Progress Reports)

Once candidacy status is awarded, programs are required to file Annual Progress Reports that document maintenance of compliance and continued development over the past reporting cycle. The annual progress report form must be completed, signed and submitted by the annual reporting deadline consistent with the program's candidacy anniversary date. The Standards Compliance Continuum outlines accepted developmental levels for a program submitting its first, second, and third progress reports, and on which the CAA will render its decision to continue a program in candidacy.

Review Steps

The Council staff will conduct a preliminary administrative review of all progress reports for completeness and will contact the programs for additional information, as appropriate. Staff may return to the program for resubmission those progress reports that are incomplete or completed inappropriately.

The review of the annual candidacy progress reports will be assigned to members of the CAA's Candidacy Subcommittee, consistent with the CAA's policy on conflict of interest. If a conflict is present, an alternate Council member will be identified as a primary review for the progress report.

Annual Progress Report Decision Options

The CAA will provide written notification to the program's director and the president of the institution or the president's designee of its decision, which will be one of the following possible actions:

Approve: Accreditation Candidate provided a complete and comprehensive progress report with documentation sufficient to support its continued compliance with identified standards, as well as evidence of adequate support for continued development and progress toward expected compliance with standards at this stage. The program must respond to feedback resulting from Council's review by addressing elements in its next report to the CAA.

The program maintains its status as an Accreditation Candidate and is directed to submit the next annual progress report or an initial Application for Accreditation, if it has satisfactorily completed all requisite progress reports.

Do Not Approve: Accreditation Candidate did not satisfy all of the criteria listed for this level of review and/or did not submit sufficient documentation to support expected compliance at this stage and support for continued development.

If the program has not made sufficient progress towards compliance with accreditation standards as expected, and if the Candidacy Subcommittee has recommended not approving a progress report, the full CAA will review and render a decision. A decision to not approve a program's annual progress report will result in candidacy status being withdrawn from the program. A decision to withdraw candidacy status from a program is subject to appeal and the program is advised of its option to seek further consideration of the CAA's decision.

When the CAA judges that a program has not met the criteria to sustain its status as an Accreditation Candidate as it relates to the candidacy policy and accreditation standards, the CAA will notify in writing the program's director and the institution's president, or the president's designee, that candidacy has been withdrawn. Notification also includes justification for the decision and informs the program of its option to request a Further Consideration review. Further Consideration is the mechanism whereby the program can present documented evidence of compliance with the appropriate standards and ask the CAA to reevaluate its decision to not allow program to proceed towards submitting its candidacy application.

If the program chooses to request a Further Consideration review, the program's request and written documentation to clarify and support its compliance with the cited standards must be received in the Accreditation Office within 30 days from the date of notification. Within two months of receiving the applicant program's Further Consideration request and materials, the CAA will review the file and make a decision about the program's readiness towards candidacy. The CAA chair will notify the program's director and the institution's president or president's designee of the Council's decision. If the program does not exercise its Further Consideration option, the CAA's decision to deny approval/withdraw candidacy cannot be appealed to an Appeal Panel. 

Applying for Initial Accreditation

The CAA has established required annual progress report submissions in order to ensure that the candidate program has sufficient time to proceed in its development toward compliance with all accreditation standards and to submit its initial application for accreditation during the candidacy cycle. This provision is to allow programs to continue to develop as students matriculate into the program, allow the program to offer a full rotation of classes and implement its assessment strategies to support its self-study that will serve as the basis of its Application for Accreditation to the CAA.

The timing of the submission will allow review and decision on the application for accreditation while the program still holds a preaccreditation status with the CAA.

Clinical Doctoral Programs in Audiology

Clinical doctoral programs in audiology must submit three (3) annual progress reports to the CAA before filing an application for initial accreditation. If the candidate program intends to pursue initial accreditation with the CAA, it must submit a completed application for accreditation no later than the timing of its fourth annual candidacy progress report. A program may submit its application for initial accreditation at the next regularly scheduled application submission date i.e., February or August consistent with the program's candidacy anniversary date, after the third annual progress report has been submitted.

Master's Programs in Speech-Language Pathology

Master's programs in speech-language pathology must submit at least two (2), but no more than three (3), annual progress reports to the CAA before filing an initial application for accreditation. If the candidate program intends to pursue initial accreditation with the CAA, it must submit a completed application for accreditation no later than the timing of its fourth annual candidacy progress report. Master's programs in speech-language pathology may submit its application for initial accreditation in lieu of a third annual progress report. Programs may submit its application for initial accreditation at the next regularly scheduled application submission date, i.e., February or August consistent with the program's candidacy anniversary date, after the third annual progress report has been submitted.

For policies and procedures related to the CAA's review of applications for accreditation, refer to the CAA Accreditation Manual.

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