With its December Commission meeting, CEA concluded an eventful 2014. Christa Hansen, 2014 Chair, presided throughout the year, during which CEA staff and peer reviewers conducted 69 site visits, and the Commission reviewed self-studies, site responses, and reporting requirements before making 148 accreditation decisions. The CEA Directory lists the 280 programs and institutions now accredited. A scan of the Directory shows the wide range of programs and institutions, large and small, domestic and international, that have successfully undergone CEA’s accreditation process and that are committed to upholding the CEA standards.
Beyond growth itself, trends we saw in 2014 include increases in substantive changes to curriculum and student achievement practices as sites conduct regular review of the needs of their student populations; increases in the number of applications for additional programs and new locations, as well as for changes of control or ownership; and broader engagement in training and professional development by faculty, likely due to an increase in the availability of such offerings (particularly online) and CEA’s Faculty standards that require appropriate qualifications and professional development. We’re also conducting an increased number of custom workshops for sites, which serves to deepen a site’s understanding of CEA’s standards and policies. A standards revision process culminated with a public comment period and subsequent Commission adoption of revised 2015 CEA Standards (see below).
2015 will be eventful as well. The Commission is undertaking a strategic planning initiative to establish directions and priorities for the next five years, the results of which will be shared with the Constituent Council at its meeting in late May. To extend information to a wide range of “CEA customers” and build CEA knowledge among accredited sites, applicants, and reviewers, staff are planning several online education and training events. A task force is examining ways to mitigate the “echo” of the Accreditation Act “boom” which will occur in four or five years as sites come up for reaccreditation.
The Commission recognizes and respects the tremendous amount of work that a site puts into achieving accreditation. The clear improvements (and maintenance of quality) we’ve seen as sites undergo accreditation reviews provide evidence that accredited sites are committed to quality and serving students well. On behalf of the Commission, I thank CEA’s constituents for this on-going commitment to continuous improvement.
2015 Chair, Commission on English Language Program Accreditation
Each Commissioner serves a three-year term, and thus there are three or four new Commissioners each year. In 2014, nominations were cultivated and elections were carried out according to the CEA Policies and Procedures. As a result, we welcome four new Commissioners in 2015, including one public member. The new Commissioners are Jane Robison, Missouri State University; Vivian Lindhardsen, Columbia University; and Cindy Ochoa. Jane Kalionzes, San Diego State University, has been appointed as a new public member. The Commission also elected officers for 2015. Alexandra Rowe will serve as Chair-elect and Cheryl Delk – LeGood will serve as Treasurer. In keeping with CEA’s history and role as a specialized accreditor, the Commission is comprised of 11 Commissioners from the field, and in keeping with USDE regulations, includes two public members who cannot be from the field but have domains of expertise useful to the Commission’s work. The Commissioners also are in administrator and faculty positions, and Commissioners collectively have experience in the wide range of types of programs and institutions in the field, ensuring that CEA can effectively accommodate diverse perspectives when considering standards and making accreditation decisions.
The Finance Committee monitors CEA’s financial standing and has established that there will be no fee changes in 2015. The 2015 fee schedule is available on the website. CEA carefully monitors internal budgetary matters as well as external events that may affect costs related to accreditation activities and provision of services; fees are then reviewed annually and any changes announced at the end of the year.
Throughout 2013 and 2014, the Standards Review Committee (SRC) followed its established cycle and reviewed the following standards: Student Achievement; Length and Structure; Curriculum (2013); and Administrative and Fiscal Capacity; Program Development and Program Review; Recruiting; Student Services (2014). Some general edits were approved by the Commission in December 2013, and an SRC Task Force for in-depth revision of four topics in the areas of Student Achievement, Length and Structure, Curriculum, as well as the Glossary and Appendix A was struck at that time. The SRC Task Force completed its work by June 2014, and the Commission ratified changes at the December 2014 meeting after public comment on the proposed revisions. Note that the intent of the current standards has not been changed and the newly adopted changes represent improvements in clarity and editorial coherence throughout the document. More information about the 2015 CEA Standards and the standards review process is available on CEA’s website.
CEA welcomed three new staff members in Fall 2014.
- Samantha Robotham is CEA’s new administrative assistant and will manage the front office, support the Commission and prepare for meetings, and ensure records maintenance. She comes to CEA from the Institute of Medicine for The National Academy of Sciences. She holds a BA in business administration from Georgia State University.
- Rachel Herman, who joined the professional staff of CEA in November 2014 as an accreditation associate, is formerly the Co-Director of the English Language Center (ELC) at the University of Central Missouri. She holds an MATESL and is completing an MS in educational technology this year. She has previous CEA experience including serving as a self-study coordinator and a reviewer. She will contribute to the implementation of online training, conduct site visits, and support several Commission committees.
- Vikki Birkett is CEA’s financial and business operations manager, replacing Gina Spears, who relocated. Vikki maintains CEA’s books, manages sustaining fees, and works with the CPA and reviews site financials. She holds a BS in business and accounting, and has served as a controller, director of finance, and association manager for area organizations, most recently for the Workhouse Arts Foundation.
CEA staff now numbers eight, reflecting the agency’s rapid growth in the last two years. The staff directory lists each.
In keeping with CEA’s policies on public disclosure, and as required by the US Department of Education, CEA announces all accreditation decisions with 30 days of the decision. Accreditation decisions made at each meeting are provided through notifications to the organizations in the field, other accrediting agencies, and to federal and state agencies, as well as to the public on the CEA website. Decisions made at the December 2014 Commission meeting are listed at the Recent Decisions tab on the landing page of the CEA website.
In accordance with 602.23 of US Federal Regulations for accrediting agencies, a recognized accrediting agency must provide public notice that an institution or program is being considered for accreditation and must provide an opportunity for third-party comment. Comments are considered by the Commission in making accreditation decisions. A list of institutions and programs to be reviewed at the April 2015 Commission meeting as well as information about how to make a public comment is available at Upcoming Reviews on the landing page of the CEA website.