II.c. Accreditation Process: Public Information and Change Notifications
Public Disclosure and Confidentiality | Conflict of Interest | Public Notice of Accreditation Actions | Public Notice of Accreditation Status | CAA Logo | Institutional Accreditation Status | Program Director Change Notification | Administrative Structure Change Notification | Program Closure Notification | Lapse of Accreditation
Public Disclosure and Confidentiality
The integrity of the accreditation process often requires that applicant programs submit confidential information. In instances in which an institution or program is inhibited in its ability to disclose such information or to conduct a meaningful self-study, the ability of the accrediting body to make sound judgments is compromised and the effectiveness of the accreditation process is diminished. At the same time, decisions of accrediting bodies are used by various government and private funding agencies, employers, regulatory bodies, and students as one basis for their decisions. In this regard, accrediting bodies serve as protectors of the public interest. The confidentiality needed to preserve the integrity of the accreditation process must be balanced against the needs of external constituencies for basic and essential information. In determining which documents should be subject to public disclosure, the Council on Academic Accreditation accepts the principle that the primary consideration should be whether the information in question relates to compliance with established standards. The importance of the extent and timing of disclosure is acknowledged.
In disclosing information relative to accreditation, the CAA will observe the following guidelines:
1. Information subject to full disclosure by the CAA includes the following:
- Information concerning the scope, eligibility criteria, standards, procedures, and the process by which accreditation decisions are reached;
- Lists of programs that hold an accreditation status, including accredited, accredited-on probation, or that hold candidacy status, including the professional area of accreditation, degree program, next review year, and any alternate modes of delivery that are included in the accreditation status;
- Accreditation actions, consistent with CAA's policy on Public Notice of Accreditation Actions, which includes programs awarded an accreditation status, that have had accreditation withdrawn; that have been placed on probation; or that were denied an accreditation status and therefore are not accredited;
- A list of anticipated site visits during the current academic year;
- Academic and professional qualifications of members of the Council and its administrative personnel.
2. Information available upon request from the Council on Academic Accreditation includes:
- Annual reports summarizing the activities of the Council
3. Information available only from the institution or program or from the CAA with consent of the program includes:
- Information supplied by the institution or program and/or the CAA in the course of the accrediting and final decision processes, such as the program's self-study, the site visit report, the program's response to the site visit report, correspondence between the CAA and the institution relating to the accreditation process, or information related to investigated complaints that resulted in change of accreditation status. (Accredited programs are encouraged to share this information with appropriate state agencies that have a legitimate claim for information beyond that available to the public‑at‑large.)
4. Certain information is not available for dissemination for legal reasons, such as the existence of a legal privilege (e.g., attorney/client privilege or physician/patient privilege) and will not be disclosed without the consent of all party(ies) involved.
Conflict of Interest
To preserve the credibility of the accreditation process, members of the Council, site visitors, consultants, appeal panel members, paid staff, and other representatives of the CAA must avoid conflicts of interest in the discharge of their duties. Responsibility for determining and avoiding such conflicts rests primarily with the individual and with the Council on Academic Accreditation itself. The ASHA Board of Ethics defines conflict of interest in its Issues in Ethics Statement "Conflicts of Professional Interest" as:
"Situations where personal and/or financial considerations compromise judgment in any professional activity (e.g., clinical research, consultation, administration, etc.) or where the situation may appear to provide the potential for professional judgment to be compromised."
The above statement applies to every aspect of the accreditation process. Because of the significant impact of accreditation and accreditation decisions upon the welfare of students, faculties, and the institutions to which they are attached, it is especially important that members of the Council and other individuals named above be objective and display the highest degree of integrity. For this reason, these individuals must avoid both the fact and the appearance of conflict of interest, and must be alert to any and all situations that might involve or give the appearance of bias.
The CAA Site Visit Manual describes specific circumstances that site visitors must avoid as potential areas of conflict. Similar situations for CAA members are described in the CAA Operating Manual.
Public Notice of Accreditation Actions
The major purpose of accreditation is to identify those graduate education programs that meet and maintain standards for education for entry level professional preparation in audiology and speech-language pathology. Maintaining public trust in the professions' accreditation program and processes requires publication of the Council's actions relative to accreditation.
The accreditation status of graduate education programs that provide entry level professional preparation in audiology and speech language pathology is contained in a roster maintained by the Accreditation Office. In addition to the name, address, phone number and accreditation status of the programs, the roster includes the degree level for each program, the current period of accreditation, and the year of its next scheduled reaccreditation review and indicates if the accreditation status includes distance education component or satellite campuses. This list is shared biannually with other recognized agencies that accredit institutions housing accredited or candidate programs in audiology and/or speech-language pathology, and is made available to the general public through publication on its website. The CAA also publishes the names of accredited programs [PDF] and those holding candidacy status on ASHA's website.
The CAA will notify the Secretary of Education of the United States Department of Education (ED), the appropriate State licensing or authorizing agency, the appropriate accrediting agencies, and the public at the same time it notifies the program, but no later than 30 days after it reaches the decisions on all final accreditation actions of the CAA. Final accreditation actions include decisions to award or renew accreditation, award candidacy, place a program on probation, and to withhold or withdraw accreditation or candidate status. CAA will include in its public notice of final accreditation actions the basis for the decisions, indicating the standards cited and compliance level along with the Accreditation Action Report or decision letter as appropriate. These notices will be available online for no more than one year from the date of final decision.
Program decisions for which the CAA took an adverse action (e.g., withhold or withdraw accreditation or candidate status), will be considered final 30 days after the opportunity for appeal has elapsed. These programs also are given the opportunity to provide any comments that it may wish to make regarding the adverse decision. Final decisions to place a program on probation or withhold or withdraw an accreditation status will be made available to the public within 24 hours of notification to the program through posting the information on ASHA's website.
Within 60 days after a final decision, the CAA will make available to the ED, the State licensing or authorizing agency, appropriate accrediting agencies, and the public, a brief statement summarizing the reasons for withholding or withdrawing an accreditation status of a program, and the comments, if any, that the affected program may wish to make regarding the decision. This information will be published on its website, or may be requested in writing to the Chair, Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, American Speech- Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard #310, Rockville, Maryland 20850 (800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700). CAA will include in its public notice of final accreditation actions the basis for the decisions, indicating the standards cited and compliance level along with the Accreditation Action Report or decision letter as appropriate.
The CAA also notifies the ED, the appropriate State licensing or authorizing agency, the appropriate accrediting agencies, and upon request, the public if an accredited or candidate program decides (a) to withdraw voluntarily from accreditation or candidacy, within 30 days of notification from the program that it is withdrawing voluntarily from accreditation or candidacy, or (b) lets its accreditation or candidacy lapse, within 30 days of the date on which accreditation or candidacy lapses. The CAA does not publish the names of programs that have their accreditation decision deferred for clarification or additional information.
Public Notice of Accreditation Status
The Accreditation Office responds to inquiries by providing information about a program's history and current status with the CAA, including (a) accreditation status and area(s) of accreditation; (b) candidacy status for CAA accreditation and area(s) of candidacy; (c) probation; (d) withdrawal of accreditation; (e) not accredited; and (f) not in candidacy.
Programs must have a procedure for informing prospective and current students and the public of their accreditation status, including probation and candidacy status. Programs placed on probation must inform their students of such action and its implications for the students' future eligibility to obtain professional credentials, including the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence, state licensure, or teacher certification as appropriate. The CAA requires that the program provide documentation to the CAA within 30 days of receipt of the probation letter that information regarding its status has been provided to students and to the public in a timely manner. Any venue that provides information to the public regarding its accreditation status must include information that is accurate and reflects the current status. Failure to provide accurate information about the program may jeopardize accreditation.
The CAA requires programs to disclose accurate information on the program website about their accreditation status to include the specific degree program holding the accreditation status and the full name, address, and phone number of the accrediting agency: Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Programs that provide inaccurate or misleading information concerning their accreditation status jeopardize their accreditation status.
The following language is provided to programs to use when describing their CAA accreditation status publicly (e.g., catalogs, website, recruitment literature) and should be used in its entirety to meet the intent of this policy:
Programs in audiology and/or speech-language pathology that are accredited by CAA:
"The [master's/doctoral (+ degree designator)] education program in [audiology and/or speech-language pathology] at [name of parent institution of higher education] is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard #310, Rockville, Maryland 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700."
Accredited programs in audiology and/or speech-language pathology that are placed on probation by CAA:
"The [master's/doctoral (+ degree designator)] program in [audiology and/or speech-language pathology] at [name of parent institution of higher education] has been placed on probation by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard #310, Rockville, Maryland 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700. A program on probation is not currently in full compliance with the accreditation standards. Programs on probation remain accredited but must demonstrate compliance with the standards within one year."
Programs in audiology and/or speech-language pathology that are granted the status of Candidate for Accreditation by CAA:
"The [master's/doctoral (+ degree designator)] program in [audiology and/or speech-language pathology] at [name of parent institution of higher education] is a Candidate for Accreditation by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard #310, Rockville, Maryland 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700. Candidacy is a "pre-accreditation" status with the CAA, awarded to developing or emerging programs for a maximum period of five years."
Every statement regarding a program’s accreditation status must be accurate and complete. Programs on probation must publicize their probationary status where there is any mention of their accreditation status. Programs that provide inaccurate or misleading information concerning their accreditation status, including candidacy, violate the Standards for Accreditation of Graduate Education Programs in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.
If an institution or program misrepresents or distorts any action by the CAA with respect to any aspect of the accreditation process, its accreditation status, the contents of the site visit report, or final CAA accreditation actions or decisions, the CAA will notify the chief executive officer of the institution and the program director, informing them that corrective action must be taken. If corrective action is not taken, the CAA will release a public statement that provides correct information and may invoke other sanctions as may be appropriate.
Use of CAA Logo by Programs
The CAA logo is the exclusive property of CAA. However, CAA allows accredited programs and their sponsoring institutions to use the CAA logo in publications and displays-electronic or print.The use of the logo is governed by the following guidelines.
- The logo must be used in its entirety and not modified except that it may be reduced or enlarged to suit the use, but the scale of elements should be retained.
- It may be reproduced in black and white.
- The logo may not be used by programs that have applied for, but not yet received accreditation.
- If programs that are not accredited by CAA are included in the publication and/or display, then accompanying text must be included that clearly specify which programs are CAA accredited. For example, the logo does not apply to undergraduate or non-entry level doctoral programs in communication sciences and disorders.
- Use of the logo shall be subject at all times to revocation and withdrawal by CAA when, in its sole judgment, its continued use would not serve the best interests of CAA or the public.
Downloadable versions of CAA-accredited and candidate program logos are available online or programs may request an electronic copy of the audiology and/or speech-language pathology logo by contacting email@example.com.
Procedures Related to Notification of Changes in Institutional Accreditation Status
When CAA awards an accreditation status, it does so based on the expectation that the program will continue to comply with all accreditation standards over the term of accreditation. If the CAA receives notice that a program's sponsoring institution has had its recognition status denied, revoked, or placed on probation by a recognized institutional accrediting agency, the CAA will promptly review the accreditation or candidacy status of that program to determine if the CAA should take adverse action against the program. Likewise, the CAA will promptly review the accreditation or candidacy status of a program when informed that a state agency has suspended, revoked, or terminated the institution's legal authority to provide postsecondary education within the state.
When an institution receives an adverse accreditation decision from a recognized accrediting agency, accreditation staff will follow-up through current monitoring mechanisms, and require the program to include in their next report to CAA information about how this adverse decision will affect the program's ability to maintain its compliance with the CAA's Standards for Accreditation. The program must include the rationale provided for the adverse decision, a description of the current process to resolve the issues, along with the time line for resolution and decision by the agency.
The CAA's Executive Committee will review this written notice to determine if follow-up action is necessary. In considering whether to grant or continue accreditation or candidacy status to a program, the CAA will take into account actions by (a) recognized institutional accrediting agencies that have denied accreditation or preaccreditation to the institution offering the program, placed the institution on public probationary status, or revoked the accreditation or preaccreditation of the institution; and (b) a state agency that has suspended, revoked, or terminated the institution's legal authority to provide postsecondary education.
The CAA will provide the Secretary of Education with a thorough and reasonable explanation within 30 days of its action, consistent with its accreditation standards, for why the action of the other body did not preclude it from awarding or continuing accreditation or candidacy status during any period in which the sponsoring institution is the subject of:
- a pending or final action brought by a state agency to suspend, revoke, withdraw, or terminate the institution's legal authority to provide postsecondary education in the state;
- a decision by a recognized agency to deny accreditation or preaccreditation;
- a pending or final action brought by a recognized institutional accrediting agency to suspend, revoke, withdraw, or terminate the institution's accreditation or preaccreditation status; or
- probation or an equivalent status imposed by a recognized agency.
The CAA will, upon request, share with other appropriate recognized accrediting agencies and recognized state approval agencies information about the accreditation or candidacy status of any program and any adverse actions it has taken against an accredited or candidate program.
Program Director Change Notification
Programs must notify the CAA of program director changes as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after the change, including temporary appointments and sabbaticals. Failure to notify the CAA Accreditation Office within the time lines may jeopardize the program's accreditation status.
The program must submit notification [DOC] to the CAA Accreditation Office indicating the name, title, and contact information of the new program director, along with the effective date of the appointment and whether the appointment is on an interim basis or permanent. The program must provide with the notification documentation about the new program director’s qualifications and credentials, which will be reviewed to ensure the individual meets the requirements outlined in Standard 1.5. The notice also must include the justification for the change. If the position is vacant, written notification should include the plan for filling the position. A communication regarding the program’s compliance with accreditation standards will be provided to the program once the review has been completed.
Administrative Structure Change Notification
Programs must notify the CAA of changes in administrative structure, as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after the change. Changes in administrative structure would include a move to another college or school or a shift from program to department level. Failure to notify the CAA Accreditation Office within the time lines may jeopardize the program's accreditation status.
The program must submit notification in writing [DOC] to the CAA Accreditation Office that:
- identifies the effective date of the change
- describes the effect on continued compliance with regard to program authority, access to higher administration, etc.
- provides an updated organizational chart
Further details about the change and its effect on the program's compliance with all Standards for Accreditation must be provided at the time of the next accreditation report (annual report or accreditation application). In particular, the program must address compliance with standards that relate to mission and goals, long-term planning, program director and leadership, public information, and financial resources in their next report.
Program Closure Notification
The decision to close an academic program requires specific plans for providing, in appropriate ways, for the students, the faculty, and the administrative and support staff, and for the disposition of the program's assets and student records. Every effort should be devoted to informing each constituency as fully as possible about the conditions of the closing. When this occurs, it is critical that programs inform the CAA of these circumstances as it affects the continuation and quality of the program.
Programs must notify the CAA as soon as possible when closure of an accredited program has been decided, but no later than 30 days after the final decision to close. Failure to notify the CAA Accreditation Office within the time lines may be reported to the appropriate institutional accreditor.
In the event that a decision is reached to close the program, including any component of the program such as distance education track or satellite/branch campus, the program must submit notification in writing to the CAA Accreditation Office that includes the following information:
- written notice to the CAA of the impending closure with specific circumstances and details, including closure date, and copies of official decision or notification to close the program or any of its components
- a transition plan and time line to the CAA for ensuring completion of the program by all current students that will ensure sufficient leadership, faculty, and other resources to provide the curriculum, practicum experiences, support services, and advising needed to fulfill the program's mission, meet its obligations to its students, and maintain all appropriate student records consistent with institutional policy
- evidence that all current and prospective students have been informed of the program closure with a plan for assisting them in completing their program of study
After reviewing the program's transition plan, the CAA will acknowledge the program's closure, modify the program's accreditation cycle to reflect the anticipated closure date, as warranted, and list the program on the Recent Accreditation Decisions webpage. Further, the CAA also will notify the U.S. Secretary of Education and other stakeholders of the closure, consistent with the CAA's Public Notice of Accreditation Actions policy.
Programs will be expected to continue to file reports to the CAA, annually or on an alternatively identified schedule, to ensure adherence to the program's transition plan and continued compliance with the Standards for Accreditation. Details about the transition and its effect on the program's compliance with all Standards for Accreditation must be provided at the time of the next accreditation report. In particular, the program must address in its next report compliance with standards that relate to mission and goals, program director and leadership, public information, faculty, and financial resources.
Lapse of Accreditation
An accreditation status is considered lapsed when a program has failed to meet its administrative responsibilities to maintain its accreditation status by established deadlines and after all protocols have been exhausted giving the program opportunity to complete its obligations. Programs are required, by CAA's established due dates, to complete and file any required accreditation report, e.g., application, annual report, candidacy progress reports, probation reports; and to pay annual accreditation fees. Because the program is given both the opportunity to meet all obligations and a warning that its accreditation status may be withdrawn for a failure to comply, the CAA's decision to withdraw accreditation or candidacy, as it considers the program to have allowed its accreditation to lapse demonstrated by its failure to act, is not subject to appeal.
The CAA would place a program on administrative probation prior to taking this type of withdrawal action. The lapse start date would be 30 days after administrative probation is applied.
Within 30 days of the lapse date, the CAA will inform the program of its action to withdraw the program's accreditation status, including the effective date of when the program is no longer included in the CAA's list of programs, modify the program's accreditation cycle to reflect the CAA's decision, and list the program on the Recent Accreditation Decisions webpage. Further, the CAA also will notify the U.S. Secretary of Education and other stakeholders of the closure, consistent with the CAA's Public Notice of Accreditation Actions policy.
The graduate program retains the right to reapply for accreditation at a later time without prejudice.
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