II. CAA Accreditation
Formal recognition of ASHA's CAA accreditation program comes from two sources. The CAA has been recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) since 1967 and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA, formerly the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation) since 1964 for the accreditation and preaccreditation of graduate education programs that provide entry-level professional preparation with a major emphasis in audiology and/or speech-language pathology.
"Graduate" refers to postbaccalaureate programs leading to a master's or doctoral degree, including the clinical doctoral degree, whether offered through graduate or professional schools. The CAA scope of accreditation was clarified by both recognition agencies in 1997 to include accreditation and preaccreditation ("Accreditation Candidate") of such programs. It was clarified again in 2002 to include the accreditation of these programs offered via distance education. ¹
Benefits of Accreditation
The public is assured that accredited programs in audiology and/or speech language pathology are evaluated extensively and conform to standards established by the professions.
Students can identify those education programs that meet their chosen profession's standards for a high-quality education. Accreditation offers students the assurance that the academic and clinical training provided by the education program will prepare them for the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) in audiology and/or speech-language pathology as a student who obtains a graduate degree from a CAA-accredited program automatically satisfies the academic and practicum requirements for the CCC. Similarly, graduates will be prepared to meet state licensing and/or state teacher certification requirements.
Colleges and universities benefit from the stimulus for self evaluation and self directed improvement that the accreditation process provides. The professions benefit from their members' vital input into the standards established for the graduate education of future professionals.
Program Eligibility for Accreditation
To be eligible for an evaluation by the CAA, an institution of higher education must offer graduate degree programs that are specifically designed to prepare students for entry into independent professional practice as audiologists or speech language pathologists. Typically, this goal is accomplished by offering an educational program leading to a master's or doctoral degree, including a clinical doctoral degree, offered through graduate or professional schools. The institution of higher education also must hold institutional accreditation with a regional accrediting agency, as outlined in Standard 1.1 of the Standards for Accreditation of Graduate Education Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Candidacy status is available for newly established programs, including consortia. The CAA Candidacy Manual is available online.
A program consents to observe and to adhere to the requirements and procedures of the CAA by submission of an application signed by the institution of higher education's president or designee requesting review and consideration for CAA accreditation.
All accreditation review materials, including the application and related correspondence, must be provided in and site visits conducted in English. The service of a translator or translation of documents will be the program’s responsibility and at its expense.
The accreditation review consists of the following steps:
Self Study—The first step in the accreditation process involves self evaluation of the program by its faculty and instructional staff. The program should review published accreditation standards to determine if it is in compliance with all standards.
Application—The application document is the program director's declaration that the program operates in compliance with all standards. The completed application is submitted to the CAA.
Peer Review—The CAA reviews the application to determine whether the program is ready for an accreditation site visit. The CAA recommends either continuing the review process (when there is reasonable expectation that all standards for accreditation can be met) or discontinuing the review process (when there is reason to believe that all standards for accreditation cannot be met). The CAA's recommendation that the accreditation process be interrupted suggests that the education program should review carefully the concerns cited by the CAA before deciding to resume the review process. A program may elect to continue the review process regardless of the CAA's recommendations.
On Site Evaluation—The site visit is one of several mechanisms used by the CAA to determine compliance with the Standards for Accreditation. An on-site visit serves to verify the accuracy of information provided in the application and to resolve any questions or concerns that resulted from review of the application by the CAA and by the site visitors. Additionally, an on-site visit provides an opportunity for site visitors to develop recommendations and suggestions on how the program can improve the quality of education. The information and insights are provided by the site visit team through the generation of its site visit report, and are critical for fair, impartial, and informed decisions on accreditation by the CAA. The program receives copies of the site visit report and may provide a written response regarding the accuracy of the site visitors' observations before the CAA makes a final accreditation decision.
Evaluation for Accreditation or Reaccreditation—The CAA completes an intensive review of all information collected: (a) the accreditation application, (b) the program's response to the CAA's initial observations, (c) the site visitors' report to the CAA, (d) the program's response to the site visit report, and (e) any additional comments from the site visit team. On the basis of this information, the CAA decides to: (a) award accreditation, (b) place a program on probation if program already holds accreditation; or (c) withhold accreditation (or withdraw accreditation if already accredited). If initial accreditation is awarded, the program is accredited for 5 years and must submit reports annually. In lieu of the next-to-final annual report the program files a reaccreditation application. If approved, the program is reaccredited for 8 years. Subsequently, it must submit annual reports and a reaccreditation application in lieu of an annual report in the next-to-final year of the current accreditation cycle (i.e., the seventh annual report would be replaced by an application for reaccreditation). A decision to place a program on probation gives the program one year to meet all standards; the ruling may not be appealed. The program on probation must submit, within one year, evidence that supports its compliance with all accreditation standards. If the CAA's decision is to withhold accreditation or withdraw reaccreditation, the program and the institution's president or the president's designee are informed of the decision and their option to request Further Consideration. If the Further Consideration option is not exercised within the specified time, the decision to withdraw/withhold accreditation is considered final, and the decision and the reasons for it are communicated to the applicant's education program director and the institution's president or designee.
Appeal of Accreditation Decisions—When the CAA's decision is to withhold or withdraw accreditation and the Further Consideration option has been exercised, the program may appeal by submitting an appeal to the ASHA vice presidents for academic affairs and sending a copy to the chair of the CAA. An appeal panel will be appointed by the ASHA vice presidents for academic affairs. Once an appeal has been considered, the appeal panel will either (a) affirm the Council's decision that was appealed, (b) amend the Council's decision, (c) reverse the Council's decision, or (d) remand the case for the CAA's reconsideration in light of the panel's findings regarding procedural violations or substantive errors. The Panel must identify specific issues for review by the CAA before taking final action. The appeals procedure is published in the CAA Accreditation Manual.
CAA and staff members may be contacted through the ASHA National Office at:
Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
2200 Research Boulevard #310
Rockville, MD 20850
(800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700)
or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information and documents are available online.
1 Please see the more information about evaluation of distance education programs in CAA's Policy on Substantive Changes in the CAA Accreditation Manual.