American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

IV. Site Visit

Scheduling | Preparations | Public Comment | Site Visit Agenda |
Conducting the Visit | Interviews | Required Meetings

Scheduling the Site Visit

The program director determines the availability of instructional staff and administrators and then submits two sets of dates for the site visit to the Accreditation Office staff when the application is submitted. Site visits typically last 2 full days but may be extended to accommodate program needs. Accreditation Office staff members assist site visitors and the program director in scheduling the visit.

The site visit is typically scheduled to occur no later than one semester following the date the application was submitted. Effective November 1, 2002, the CAA implemented a new schedule for submission of applications for accreditation. Programs will submit an application for reaccreditation on one of two standard dates: either February 1 or August 1. Programs with an anniversary date of November through April should submit applications by February 1 and will have a site visit scheduled the subsequent Fall semester. Programs with an anniversary date of May through October should submit application by August 1, and will have a site visit scheduled for the subsequent Spring semester. Site visits may be scheduled during summer months if the program is fully operational during that time period.

Cancellations

Occasionally, special circumstances make it necessary to cancel or postpone a site visit. In such instances, the Accreditation Office will reschedule the site visit in consultation with the program director within one semester. If a member of a site visit team cancels more than 45 days prior to the visit, Accreditation Office staff will make every effort to replace the team member, or offer to reschedule the date of the visit with the program.

If a member of the site visit team cancels within 45 days of the site visit, Accreditation Office staff will notify the program director and discuss rescheduling options:

  • Reschedule no later than one semester with original team
  • Continue as scheduled but replace team member
  • Continue as scheduled with only two members for a single professional area visit; three members for a dual professional area visit.

Team Composition

For a program that applies for accreditation in a single professional area, either audiology or speech-language pathology, the site visit team shall consist of three members who represent the same professional area in which accreditation is sought—two members who are employed in academic institutions and one practitioner member. For a program that applies for accreditation in both audiology and in speech-language pathology in the same review cycle, one site visit will be conducted. The site visit team for a dual program visit shall consist of four people—one academic faculty in audiology, one audiology practitioner, one academic faculty in speech-language pathology, and one speech-language pathology practitioner.

The Accreditation Office staff designate one of the academic faculty members as the site visit team chair, regardless of whether it is a single or dual program visit. No site visitor can serve as chair until he/she has served as full member of at least two previous site visit teams. Observers may accompany the site visit team.

Appointment of the Site Visit Team

The program is given a list of potential site visitors and is asked to remove any names that present a conflict of interest. The program returns the modified list to the Accreditation Office before scheduling of the visit can begin.

An individual may not serve as a site visitor to a given program if he/she (a) lives in the state in which the program is located or in close geographic proximity to the program, (b) has been a member of the faculty/instructional staff of the program, (c) was a student in the program, (d) served as a consultant or as a site visitor to the program during the last accreditation review, or (e) is a faculty member whose program was site visited within the past 5 years by a faculty member of the program currently being evaluated.

Although Accreditation Office staff attempt to monitor these criteria, responsibility for determining any possible conflict of interest, actual or implied, lies with both the program and the site visitor. Site visitors must consider the degree to which they are able to make objective observations, reports, and recommendations. A person who for any reason cannot be objective (e.g., because of personal friendship with a member of the instructional staff of the applicant program, future employment considerations, or biases toward the program) must not serve as a site visitor to a particular program.

Travel Arrangements and Expenses

After a site visit has been scheduled, the Accreditation Office sends site visitors detailed information regarding travel arrangements and expenses. Site visitors are responsible for making their own travel arrangements with ASHA's official travel agency. Site visitors are encouraged to finalize travel arrangements, in coordination with the team, at least two weeks prior to the visit. The program director is responsible for making and confirming hotel reservations for the site visitors. Before the visit, the program director and site visitors should be in communication regarding arrival and departure times. During the site visit, team members are responsible for their own expenses, including hotel costs; they are subsequently reimbursed consistent with ASHA's travel policy. Site visitors should not accept meals from or provide meals to instructional staff of the institution being visited. (An exception would be an instructional staff luncheon meeting.)

Preparation for the Site Visit

Before the site visit, each site visitor should access and review all relevant documents submitted by the program and/or prepared by the CAA. In preparation for the site visit, each team member is expected to be thoroughly familiar with the following:

  • the current CAA Accreditation Manual, including the Standards for Accreditation
  • the application prepared by the program under review
  • CAA's observations provided after initial review of the application and the program's response to these concerns and/or any updates on significant program changes (including a Substantive Change Plan if appropriate)
  • public comments received prior to the site visit

The program director must forward to the site visit team and to the Accreditation Office a response to the CAA's initial observations and a tentative agenda for the site visit team at least 30 days before the site visit. The program also is expected to post an announcement of a public meeting (usually attended by clients, family, etc.) at least 15 days in advance of the site visit. Evidence of the posting should be provided to the site visitors at the time of the visit.

The program is required to provide key documents to the site visit team at least 30 days in advance in an electronic format. Programs may choose to upload files to a flash drive and mail to the site visitors, may provide URLs for materials that can be accessed on the program's website, or grant temporary access to an internal site, such as a department or faculty intranet site, or establish a unique website to which site visit team members have access; the program may use a combination of these options to meet this requirement. The program must advise the site visit team chair if this requirement presents any hardship. A list of required documents is provided on the CAA website.

The CAA supports the coordination of site visits at educational institutions. Among the reasons for coordinated evaluations are shared faculty, shared facilities, and integrated curricula, as well as the time and expense involved in preparing for a visit. However, site visits to programs applying for initial accreditation or candidacy status will be conducted separately and distinct from other CAA-accredited programs on campus. Once accreditation is awarded to a candidate program and a review cycle is established, the CAA will make every effort to synchronize schedules to coordinate site visits to all entry-level graduate programs in audiology or speech-language pathology at the same institution.

If an institution offers more than one entry-level graduate education program (e.g., in different professions [speech-language pathology or audiology], satellite or branch campuses, distance education, or consortium programs), the CAA will evaluate all programs during a single site visit whenever possible. The CAA will follow its policies and procedures for conducting reviews pertaining to alternative models of education delivery as applicable.

If an institution has both a CAA-accredited graduate education program and program accredited by another accrediting or credentialing agency (e.g. National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education NCATE) the CAA will coordinate the review activities, conduct a concurrent visit to both programs whenever possible, and attempt to synchronize the review cycles, depending on the program's preference. The CAA and other site visitors will be provided descriptive information on the corresponding accreditation program in order to increase understanding of both processes.

In order to facilitate communication and to avoid potential areas of conflict during concurrent site visits between the CAA and other credentialing agencies, both the CAA site visitors and the other on-site reviewers will coordinate the development of the site visit agenda with each other and the program. A pre-visit planning conference call with both teams of visitors is recommended, at the discretion of the visitors. The site visit teams will then meet together on-site to share information and materials and to review areas of overlap or concerns to be addressed by one or more team members. The site visit team will have open, ongoing communication and sharing of information among all members throughout the visit. In addition, the teams will meet together prior to the exit report to prepare the reports and ensure consistency in the CAA's and other representatives' presentation styles and summaries.

Public Comment

The CAA provides the opportunity for public comment regarding the program to be site visited, as further described below. Any comments received in advance of the site visit are provided to the site visit team for review and consideration during the site visit.

In addition, the program director must ensure that the site visit is announced to the public in a timely manner so that faculty, administrators, students, clients, community professionals, and the general public have the opportunity to address the site visit team. The program has the discretion to determine its community of interest, and to advertise the public meeting through appropriate campus, local, or regional mechanisms.

Individuals who wish to provide input about a program seeking candidacy (preaccreditation), initial CAA accreditation, or about a CAA-accredited program seeking reaccreditation may do so in two ways: a) by submitting written comments prior to the accreditation site visit in accordance with the procedures specified below, or b) by providing comments during the program's scheduled site visit.

All comments provided must:

  • relate to a program's compliance with the published Standards for Accreditation of Graduate Education Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (Standards), effective January 1, 2008;
  • identify the specific program seeking candidacy, initial accreditation, or reaccreditation with the CAA.

Procedures for Submitting Written Comments Prior to the Site Visit

The CAA publishes on the ASHA website the list of programs that have submitted application for candidacy, initial accreditation and reaccreditation during that calendar year for which CAA is seeking public comment as part of its current accreditation review of the published programs. The listing will include the dates of the scheduled site visit for each program.

Individuals who wish to submit written testimony about any of the programs scheduled for a site visit must adhere to the following procedures:

  • All comments about education programs are due in the Accreditation Office no later than fifteen (15) days before the first day of the scheduled site visit. Comments received after this time will not be forwarded to the site visit team for consideration during the accreditation review.
  • All written testimony must include the commentor's name, address, telephone contact information and the commentor's relationship to the program in order for the Accreditation Office staff to verify the source of the testimony, including comments submitted via fax or as an e-mail attachment. All comments must be signed.

Comments should be submitted to: Accreditation Public Comment, Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard, #310, Rockville, Maryland 20850; accreditation@asha.org; Fax: 301-296-8570.

Procedures for Handling Comments Received in Advance of the Site Visit

  • The Accreditation Office staff will acknowledge receipt of the individual's comments and confirm whether they were received within the approved time lines.
  • The Accreditation Office staff will verify the source of the testimony with each respondent to ensure that the commentor's name, address, telephone contact information, and the commentor's relationship to the program have been provided.
  • If the conditions above are met, the Accreditation Office staff will forward the comments (including those submitted via fax or as an email attachment), with the author's name redacted, to the chair of the site visit team at least 1 week prior to the first day of the scheduled site visit.
  • The site visit team will consider the written comments as they review the program's compliance with the accreditation standards and will address them in the site visit report, if appropriate, as they relate to the appropriate Standards for Accreditation.

Procedures for Providing Comments During Site Visit

Both written and oral comments will be considered during any portion of the site visit, provided they meet the criteria specified above.

Public meeting: Programs scheduled for review also are responsible for soliciting public comment from students and consumers by holding a public meeting during the scheduled site visit. The program must widely publish an announcement regarding this meeting no later than fifteen (15) days prior to the site visit. The announcement should indicate that a copy of the Standards for Accreditation and/or the CAA's policy on public comments [PDF] may be obtained by contacting the Accreditation Office at ASHA, 2200 Research Boulevard, Rockville, Maryland 20850; calling ASHA's Action Center at 800-498-2071; or accessing the documents online.

Other comments during the site visit: If written comments are provided to a site visitor during the site visit, the commentor must include his/her name, address and telephone contact information and the commentor's relationship to the program in order to verify the source of the testimony, and must have signed the comments. As with all information obtained during the site visit, the site visit team members will consider the written comments as it relates to the accreditation standards, and will not reveal the identity of the person submitting the comments in the written site visit report or append the written comments to that report.

Please note: In addition to these opportunities for providing public comment regarding a program's accreditation status, the CAA has separate procedures for filing a formal complaint about a CAA-accredited program or one seeking CAA accreditation. Individuals who wish to file a formal complaint should contact the Accreditation Office to obtain a copy of the complaint procedures or refer to the Procedures for Complaints Against Graduate Education Programs.

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Site Visit Agenda

The agenda typically will include opportunities for the team to:

  • Inspect the program's physical facilities;
  • Discuss with instructional staff the academic and clinical aspects of the program;
  • Confer with the institution's administrators concerning their attitudes toward and plans for the program;
  • Review course materials, syllabi, etc.;
  • Review materials and records of the clinical aspects of the program, which does not violate client confidentiality;
  • Review records of students' academic and clinical experiences;
  • Visit off campus clinical practicum sites, if practical;
  • Interview off-campus practicum supervisors;
  • Interview students;
  • Interview alumni of the program, if practical;
  • Facilitate the public meeting scheduled by the program director at which instructional staff, administration, students, and the general public may comment on the program or institution.

Usually, interviews with central administration are best deferred until the second day of the visit. After a full day of on-site interviews, observations, and review of materials, the site visit team members will be able to ask more focused questions when meeting with administrators.

Acting on behalf of the site visit team, the chair may request changes in the agenda before the team's arrival or request relevant materials be made available, but should make such requests in a timely fashion. Generally, the agenda should have sufficient latitude to allow for changes that may seem essential during the conduct of the site visit. Time should be allowed for appropriate breaks.

Evening Before the Site Visit

The site visitors are expected to hold a planning session the evening before the site visit. If additional changes in the agenda are required, they can be arranged with the program director at the beginning of the site visit.

The site visitors should use this evening to:

  • discuss the agenda
  • outline the responsibilities and assignments of each site visitor
  • review targeted areas of the program's application
  • identify areas needing more thorough review
  • review the names of the instructional staff listed in the program's application
  • arrange to confer with one another periodically throughout the visit

Suggested Activities for the First Day of the Visit

  1. Conduct entrance interview with program director and others as appropriate
  2. Make short tour of program facilities
  3. Meet with faculty and staff
  4. Meet with a representative sample of graduate and undergraduate students
  5. Meet with program graduates, by phone or in person
  6. Review files of representative sample of at least 10 student folders in each area accreditation is sought for past 2–3 years (Client folders may be reviewed provided that no identifying information is available and the procedure for review is consistent with patient privacy policies.)
  7. Review course materials
  8. Facilitate public meeting

Evening

  1. Review data gathered during the day
  2. Organize the report format
  3. Review initial observations generated by the CAA

Suggested Activities for the Second Day of the Visit

  1. Meet with institution's president or designee
  2. Meet with dean or deans
  3. Observe treatment and diagnostics
  4. Continue with faculty and staff meetings
  5. Phone/meet with off-campus supervisors or visit off campus practicum sites
  6. Meet with department chair, if different from program director
  7. Conduct additional record review, if necessary
  8. Prepare for exit report
  9. Conduct exit report session with program director and others she/he may wish to invite

Time Allocation

The suggested times for arranging the agenda are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on both days of the visit. Evenings before and during the site visit are typically considered working time for the site visit team and all members are expected to participate. An hour should be built in for lunch and two 15 minute breaks.

The team and the program director should identify exact start and end times to allow for sufficient time to complete interviews, provide the exit report on the last day, and facilitate departure times of the team members. If the complexity of the program being reviewed necessitates a third day, the program director and team members should negotiate appropriate times to accomplish all elements of the visit. However, teams and programs may adjust these times to better accommodate team transportation schedules and location(s) to be visited. The visit could be designed to begin midday on the first day, be conducted for a full day on the second day, and conclude by midday of the third day.

The team is expected to divide activities and responsibilities for interviews, record reviews, etc. equitably. Many visits are structured to allow the team members to simultaneously cover multiple aspects of the site visit. For example, as one team member is reviewing student files, another may be contacting external supervisors by phone, while another is meeting with alumni or faculty.

Suggested Time Allotments

Source of Information

6 hours

Interviews:

 

Administrators, program director, clinical director(s), faculty, current and former students, administrative staff, off‑site practicum supervisors, clients, parents, public

4 hours

Review Documents:

 

Budget, job descriptions, personnel manual, student handbooks, faculty vitae, course syllabi, clinical practicum schedule sheets, minutes from staff and in-service training meetings, clinic logs, student files, websites

1 hour

Observe Clinic Operations:

 

Treatment services and facilities

2 hours

Examine Physical Facilities & Resources (on-site and off-site):

 

Classrooms, library, offices, practicum sites, equipment, materials, instruments, etc.

2 hours

Record Data and Notes for Accreditation Report

1/2–2 hours

Conduct Exit Report Session

17 hours

TOTAL

Preliminary Meeting of the Site Visit Team

When the site visitors meet on the eve of the site visit, the team should develop strategies for carrying out interviews in the most efficient and diplomatic manner. The site visit team is encouraged to generate specific questions for each interview, and plans should be made to repeat some questions in several interviews for reliability and to triangulate the data gathered.

Because the team knows in advance whom it will interview, it can set goals for each interview. For example, when interviewing the dean or president, the site visit team should determine if the program has autonomy for professional decisions, whether the program has adequate financial resources, and if there are ready channels of communication. When interviewing faculty, the site visit team should explore such areas as faculty workload, input to curricular planning, accessibility of the program director, and continuing education policy. An interview with an office administrative staff might confirm information about such matters as clinic operations and maintenance of records.

Thoughtful preparation will give site visitors the orientation they need to conduct each interview effectively. A review of the sources of data [PDF] for each standard later in this chapter will assist the site visit team in prioritizing the goals for each interview.

Conducting the Site Visit

General Principles

Site visitors should attempt, as far as possible, to follow the established schedule. The schedule should allow adequate time for consultation among the site visitors and should permit extending the time for particular segments of the review as needed. Site visitors should avoid scheduling late arrival and early departure times. Ample time should be available for team consultations, mentoring of new site visitors, and adhering to the site visit agenda.

Time allocations must be balanced to take account of the needs of the team and the desires of the program. The program should be given sufficient opportunity to highlight its strengths, but the team must spend time on all aspects of the program to meet the objectives of the site visit review.

Generally, programs emphasize strengths and minimize limitations. For the program, identifying limitations may not be the most critical issue. However, the process of recognizing program limitations and developing constructive strategies to overcome those limitations is an important aspect of a program's own assessment and development. The site visitors' report indicating the program's potential for overcoming its limitations is an important consideration to the CAA. Throughout the site visit, team members should encourage all persons who are interviewed to converse freely about the program and to reflect on all aspects of the program's functioning, including its limitations.

Not all programs comply with each of the standards in the same manner. Some standards are very specific, allowing little latitude in the approaches that may be used for compliance, whereas others are less specific, permitting greater variation in acceptable approaches. The site visitors should explore and record in detail alternative approaches, their philosophical bases, and the observed results. Further, alternative approaches should be described thoroughly in the site visit report.

Site visitors should maintain an open and objective attitude and should avoid expressing their personal philosophies about graduate education. Site visitors also must avoid comparing the applicant program with their own programs.

Internal matters of concern to a program may arise in the course of interviews. The site visitors should consider only matters that may influence compliance with the standards. If internal program problems are raised, the site visitors must avoid being drawn into mediation. They should record and report to the CAA only factual information and refrain from drawing conclusions or recommending solutions to issues not related to compliance with standards.

Sources of Data

Although much of the site visit time is taken up with interviews with key persons associated with the graduate program, considerable data can and must be gathered through direct observation of facilities and/or from review of relevant records and printed or electronic documents. Some suggestions for gathering information about the program's compliance with each CAA Standard are provided below. Recommendations for conducting interviews follow this section.

Conducting Interviews

All interviews and meetings have certain common purposes and should be guided by basic principles of timeliness, confidentiality, and efficient information gathering. All site visit interviews are conducted with one or more of the following purposes in mind, to:

  • Verify information contained in the application;
  • Clarify information contained in the application;
  • Obtain information not included in the application; and/or
  • Clarify information that may be discrepant.

However, site visitors should be aware that certain interviews and meetings are particularly crucial in defining the roles of the site visitors and the purpose of the site visit. These interviews, which are discussed in greater detail below, include:

  • Initial interview with the program director;
  • Orientation meeting with faculty and staff, if included in the agenda; and
  • Exit report session.

Site visitors should carefully review the agenda before the site visit so that, when necessary, the schedule can be adjusted to allow sufficient time for the critical initial interview and exit report and for all individual or group sessions necessary for data gathering.

Changes in the agenda during the site visit should be avoided if at all possible.

It is essential to stay on schedule and to move in and out of interviews with courtesy and efficiency. Interviews outside the department with such people as university presidents, deans, and former students should be conducted as efficiently as possible. Administrators have very tight schedules and may not be completely knowledgeable about the CAA and the site visitors' role.

Site visitors should conduct all interviews agreed on in advance with the program director. The more individuals site visitors interview, the more data they can collect.

A statement about the importance of confidentiality during interviews with faculty and other individuals should be professed in the initial interview and reasserted in all subsequent meetings. Site visitors must be able to meet with individuals without the program director. Individuals being interviewed should be free to speak candidly.

Forms of Interviews

As part of the planning of the visit, the site visit team members should discuss what each member's role would be in facilitating interviews. Team members may conduct interviews independently in order to collect a greater amount of data and to pursue further information in their professional areas (audiology or speech-language pathology). The team may determine that certain interviews (e.g., groups of students and alumni or clinical supervisors) may be better managed with all team members present.

All site visitors should be present for the initial interview and exit report with the program director and any other persons invited to these sessions.

All faculty should be interviewed either individually or, if necessary, in small groups. In large programs, there may not be time for an individual interview with every faculty member. A small-group meeting without the program director may be a more efficient way to gather the pertinent information from each person.

Off-campus individuals who have an ongoing direct relationship with the program may be interviewed in person or by telephone.

Content of Interviews

Site visitors should briefly make introductions, make a statement about the importance of confidentiality during interviews, answer any questions the interviewee(s) may have and proceed with their own questioning. The manner of questioning should direct the interviewee to provide information pertinent to the site visit and to the CAA. Site visitors should ask open-ended questions whenever possible.

Recording the Interviews

Note-taking is an integral part of the interview process and is crucial to ensuring an accurate report. Record the name and position of each person interviewed together with their comments. Discrepancies in reports on specific issues should be recorded and, if possible, resolved before the end of the site visit. Visitors may wish to keep personal notes for reference after the visit. The site visit team will be asked to comment, as appropriate, on the program's response to the site visit report.

Suggested Questions in Data Gathering

(To be used where appropriate)

  • What is your relationship to, function in, role in, responsibility for the audiology/speech-language pathology program?
  • What priority does this program have in the college, university?
  • Are there any problem areas or concerns about the program? Please describe strengths and weaknesses.
  • Are any changes planned for the future? What plans are being made for the program?
  • What is your opinion of the:
    • quality of the program
    • faculty
    • budget
    • clinical operation
    • facilities
    • professional opportunities
    • supervision
    • leadership
    • commitment/dedication
    • satellite or branch campus program
    • distance education opportunities
  • What alternatives does the program have if:
    • the budget is cut
    • the instructional staff is reduced
    • the instructional staff morale is low
    • poor leadership is demonstrated
    • other situations of concern are observed?
  • What is your attitude toward making changes in the program that may be necessary to meet the accreditation standards or to improve the program?
  • Have you considered using process—and systems—oriented material? For example, how do program evaluation data feed into future planning? How does supervisory practice get modified? How do records get processed in a timely manner? How does a student "flow" through the system?

Although the initial interview, orientation meeting with faculty and staff, and exit report session (discussed below) serve unique functions that are addressed in subsequent sections, suggested content areas to be covered in specific interviews follow:

President

  • Financial support of the program
  • Interdepartmental relationships
  • Communication channels and mechanisms
  • Plans for the development and continuation of the program
  • Perceptions of service, teaching, students, and scholarship
  • Perceptions of how the program compares with similar academic units in the institution
  • Clarification of the relationship of the university and program missions
  • Advocacy for specific program needs, as appropriate

Dean

  • Authority of the program director
  • Role of the program in the academic unit
  • Budgetary items (e.g., equipment, salaries)
  • Faculty and clinical staff advancement and tenure
  • Leadership of program director
  • Participation of faculty in university activities (e.g., service on committees, etc.)
  • Productivity (perceptions of teaching, service, scholarship, research)
  • Perceptions of how the program compares with similar academic units in the institution
  • Advocacy for specific program needs, as appropriate
  • Long-term planning for the program

Program Director

  • Development and achievement of program goals
  • Budget
  • Role of non-tenure-track instructional staff
  • Community relationships
  • Future plans
  • In service, continuing education
  • Organizational chart
  • Clinic operations, decisions: how made, by whom
  • Personnel decisions: how made, by whom
  • Problems: means of resolving problems, lines of authority for problem resolution
  • Program evaluation/quality assurance mechanisms
  • Qualifications of faculty
  • Rank and authority of faculty
  • Responsibilities of all faculty and staff
  • Time commitments of all faculty and staff
  • Faculty meetings, communications
  • Faculty Participation in university activities (e.g., service on committees, etc.)
  • Productivity
  • Managing diversity
  • Administering multiple programs (satellite/branch campus, distance education)
  • Technical support and training
  • Process and communications related to verifying student identity for any distance education courses offered

Faculty

  • Development and achievement of program goals
  • Budget adequacy
  • Teaching and supervision loads, including multiple or alternate delivery i.e. distance education
  • Clarity of responsibilities
  • Clinical service and supervisory responsibilities
  • Research responsibilities
  • Community relationships
  • Responsibility for client decisions
  • Equipment adequacy
  • In service, continuing education
  • Program evaluation/quality assurance mechanisms
  • Qualifications
  • Salaries
  • Faculty meetings: how often, who participates
  • Curriculum and clinical mechanisms for addressing multicultural diversity and life span issues
  • Technical support and training
  • Student advising
  • Role in verifying student identity if responsible for distance education courses

Clinic Supervisors

  • Role in the program
  • Perception of strengths/weaknesses in practicum supervisory format
  • Perception of students' application of academic information to clinical practice
  • Conditions for supervision (setting, monitoring, etc.)
  • Procedures for supervision
  • Evaluation of supervisors, feedback
  • Grading
  • Continuing education/in-service
  • Personnel: instructional staff rank, contract, merit

Off-Site Supervisors

  • Relationship to program
  • Perception of student strengths/weaknesses
  • Preparation of students
  • Procedures for supervision
  • Evaluation of students
  • Grading procedures
  • Extent to which students use the practicum site
  • Comparisons with students from other institutions
  • Changes in student preparation over the past years
  • Relationship with faculty and administration

Students

  • Nature of program communications about academic progress, program offerings, graduation rates and requirements, identify verification process and cost if taking distance education courses
  • Extent of knowledge about professional issues (Code of Ethics, ASHA certification, state licensure, etc.)
  • Quality of instruction (how measured)
  • Materials, equipment
  • Access to faculty and clinical staff
  • Quality of supervision
  • Frequency of supervision
  • Suggestions for change or improvement

Alumni

  • Adequacy of preparation
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the program
  • Exposure to current information while in program
  • Quality of continuing education offerings

Support Staff

  • Communication lines
  • Responsibilities

Employers and Other Sources

  • Competence of graduates
  • Cooperation with community
  • Cooperation with colleagues and other employees within the work setting

Members of the Public

  • Relationship to program
  • Cooperation with community
  • Perception of student strengths/weaknesses
  • Preparation of students
  • Competence of graduates
  • Suggestions for change or improvement

Closing Interviews

Do not extend the interview beyond meaningful data gathering. Try to keep on schedule. As soon as you believe your mission is accomplished, courteously excuse yourself and proceed to the next item or individual on the agenda.

Problem Areas

Site visitors should be particularly alert to the following common problems as they relate to the accreditation standards:

  • Insufficient or inaccurate public information about accreditation status
  • Inadequate number of faculty to support the entry-level graduate program (e.g., undergraduate and/or research PhD program[s] interfere, or too many graduate students for the program resources)
  • Lack of confidentiality/accessibility of student and client records
  • Inadequate information in student files concerning academic or clinical education progress
  • Inadequate documentation concerning program self-analysis or effects that such data have on program development
  • Inadequate budget support for continuing education activities
  • Inadequate physical facilities—specifically, physical accessibility for persons with physical disabilities
  • Limited equipment availability, maintenance, and calibration

Required Meetings

Initial Interview with Program Director

This initial interview is crucial in establishing the proper professional relationship and tone for the site visit. Site visitors should explain the purpose of the site visit and their roles as CAA site visitors. The primary purpose of the visit is to verify the information given in the program's application. A site visitor's role is not that of personal evaluator; it is to collect information related to the CAA standards. Site visitors should clarify that they are not present to give advice, to judge, or to make decisions about whether the program is awarded accreditation. Site visitors should indicate that there will be an exit report session to indicate their findings related to the program's compliance with the CAA's accreditation standards and that a full written report of the site visit will be mailed to the program director and the university's president, or designee, within 6 weeks after the site visit.

Next, site visitors should review selected portions of the application. Site visitors should indicate areas that will need additional information or more specificity. In addition, site visitors should indicate that more than one interview with instructional staff members may be necessary to clarify the program operation.

Orientation Meeting with Instructional Staff

Faculty and staff should be oriented to the purpose of the visit, either by attending the site visitors' initial interview with the program director or in a separate orientation meeting. The program director should be encouraged to invite all of the faculty (or as many as possible) to this orientation. The site visit chair, who conducts this orientation, should review the purpose of the site visit and the roles of the site visitors, again emphasizing that the site visitors are not there to give advice, to judge, or to make decisions about accreditation. The site visit chair should review the final agenda for the site visit, answer questions, and announce the exit report session to be held at the end of the visit.

Exit Report

At the close of the site visit, the site visit team meets with the program director and any faculty, staff, or university personnel the program director may invite. The Exit Report does not need to be of any particular duration, but must reflect the findings of the site visit team and must be consistent with what will be found in the final written report. It may be appropriate in some instances to recognize that the work of fact gathering is completed prior to the Exit Report and programs are not to refute or debate the merit of any findings being communicated. However, programs are given ample opportunity to respond to the findings of the site visit team after receipt of the written report.

The primary objective of this session is to provide an oral summary report of the findings of the site visit team as they relate to the program's evidence of compliance with the accreditation standards. This should include recognition of any standards for which the program's evidence for compliance was identified as being a particular strength or limitation to the delivery of the program. The site visitors should review their findings in terms of evidence found to support compliance as they will be noted in the site visit report and as they relate to the standards. However, site visitors must not express summary opinions of compliance or noncompliance to individual standards or for final accreditation decisions.

The site visit team should complete an Accreditation Standards Inventory, found in Appendix B, prior to the Exit Report for each program being reviewed, i.e. master's in speech-language pathology and clinical doctorate in audiology. This form should summarize the team's ability to observe evidence to support verification of the program's compliance with standards. For each standard, site visitors are asked to select one of the following:

a) Evidence Observed/Verified,
b) Partial Evidence Observed/Verified, or
c) Evidence Not Observed/Verified.

There are times when compliance with a particular standard can be verified for one program but not another, so the Council requests that these areas be completed separately to better illustrate these findings. All site visit team members, including the trainee, must sign the Accreditation Standards Inventory, which is then appended to the written report.

The program director should be reminded that the CAA welcomes suggestions for the improvement of the accreditation process. The program director should be urged to complete the Site Visitor Feedback Survey as soon as possible after the site visit. In addition, the team should review the steps and anticipated time lines for completing the CAA's review, including when the program can expect to receive the written report and the program's opportunity to respond.

The site visit team should make every effort to leave the following impressions:

  • The site visitors were professional, friendly, well-prepared peers who thoroughly reviewed the program to confirm the information given in the application.
  • The site visitors were methodical, maintained their schedule, and caused minimal interruption in the program's regular activities.
  • The site visitors were impartial observers who were not abrupt, accusative, or argumentative and who did not give personal advice about or offer criticism of the program.

As a reminder, following the site visit a site visitor may not discuss, either orally or in writing, the site visit with individuals (including representatives of the program) outside of (a) Accreditation Office staff who work with the CAA, (b) the chair of the CAA (or designated Council member), or (c) members of that site visit team. Questions about the site visit should be directed to the chair of the CAA.

Consultation (optional)

At the completion of the Exit Report, site visitors are allowed to serve in a consultative role at the request of the program. It is important that the participants in the Exit Report be aware of the distinct separation between the report of the team's observations to verify evidence towards compliance with accreditation standards, and the optional consultative component. The site visit report should not reflect the substance of any informal consultation that may have occurred after the site visit was concluded, i.e., after the Exit Report session.

Problems During the Site Visit

On rare occasions, site visitors encounter special problems that limit them or prevent them from completing the site visit in the required manner. For example, the site visitors may be refused random access to student records. In all such cases, the site visit chair should discontinue the site visit and should call the chair of the CAA immediately to describe the problem and to have a course of action authorized. If the chair of the CAA is unavailable, the site visit chair should contact another CAA member designated to act on behalf of the chair in such matters. The CAA contact information is provided to the team before the site visit.

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