All Commission decisions concerning accreditation are based on the CEA Standards for English Language Programs (CEA Standards) in place at the time a representative from an eligible program or institution attends an accreditation workshop. The CEA Standards provide evaluative criteria to assess a program or institution. The program or institution must demonstrate how it is accomplishing its educational objectives while adhering to the CEA Standards.
The CEA Standards were developed, adopted, and promulgated in accordance with U.S. Department of Education requirements for recognized national accrediting agencies and reflect the professional judgment of a wide cross-section of the field of instruction of English to speakers of other languages.
The CEA Standards focus on the overall quality of an English language program or institution. A program or institution seeking accreditation must respond to each standard and document its compliance with the standard. During the review process, CEA reviewers make a judgment as to whether the program or institution appears to meet each standard. In making the accreditation decision, the Commission applies the standards as it reviews the self-study, the team report, and the response from the program or institution.
The CEA Standards, divided into 11 standard areas, are below. A longer document, CEA Standards for English Language Programs and Institutions, includes a context for each standard area and a discussion of each standard. CEA provides further instruction to applicants through self-study workshops and collateral materials.
The CEA Standards are available to the public on the CEA website. Earlier versions of the standards are available upon request from the CEA office.
Mission Standard 1: The program or language institution has a written statement of its mission and goals, which guides activities, policies, and allocation of resources. This statement is communicated to faculty, students, and staff, as well as to prospective students, student sponsors, and the public, and is evaluated periodically.
Curriculum Standard 1: The curriculum is consistent with the mission of the program or language institution, appropriate to achieve the organization’s goals and meet assessed student needs, and available in writing.
Curriculum Standard 2: Course goals, course objectives, and student learning outcomes are written, appropriate for the curriculum, and aligned with each other. The student learning outcomes within the curriculum represent significant progress or accomplishment.
Curriculum Standard 3: The instructional materials and methodologies are appropriate and supportive of course objectives.
Faculty Standard 1: Faculty members have education and training commensurate with their teaching assignments.
Faculty Standard 2: Faculty have experience relevant to teaching students at the postsecondary level in their areas of assignment and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to professional development.
Faculty Standard 3: Faculty who teach English demonstrate excellent proficiency in English. In language institutions where languages other than English are taught, faculty demonstrate excellent proficiency in the languages they teach.
Faculty Standard 4: Teachers in training are appropriately selected, trained, and supervised for the instructional situations in which they are placed.
Faculty Standard 5: Faculty members each receive a job description and all the terms and conditions of employment in writing at the time they are hired and any time their duties or employment conditions change.
Faculty Standard 6: The program or language institution has an adequate number of faculty, whose duties are structured to permit timely and effective completion.
Faculty Standard 7: The program or language institution describes to faculty clearly and in writing the performance criteria and procedures for evaluation at the onset of the evaluation period; conducts faculty performance evaluations that are systematic, regular, fair, objective, and relevant to achieving program or institutional goals; and conveys evaluation results to faculty in writing in a timely manner.
Facilities, Equipment, and Supplies
Facilities, Equipment, and Supplies Standard 1: The program or language institution has facilities, equipment, and supplies that support the achievement of its educational and service goals; are adequate in number, condition, and availability; and are accessible to students, faculty, and administrators.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 1: The program or language institution clearly defines and provides a rationale for formal linkages with other entities.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 2: The program or language institution has an administrative structure and a governance system that are effective in helping it achieve its mission and the mission of the host institution, if applicable. Administrator and staff positions within that structure are adequate in number and staffed with individuals who have appropriate education, training, and experience.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 3: Administrators and staff members each receive a written job description at the time they are hired and any time their duties or employment conditions change.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 4: The program or language institution defines, encourages, and supports appropriate professional development activities for faculty, administrators, and staff.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 5: The program or language institution describes to administrators and staff clearly and in writing the performance criteria and procedures for evaluation at the onset of the evaluation period; conducts administrator and staff performance evaluations that are systematic, regular, fair, objective, and relevant to achieving program goals; and conveys evaluation results to administrators and staff in writing in a timely manner.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 6: Administrators ensure that policies and procedures relating to program or language institution operations are in place, accessible to all who are affected by them, reviewed regularly, and implemented in a timely, fair, systematic, and ethical manner.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 7: Administrators ensure that there are means for the exchange of information among those who need it.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 8: The program or language institution documents that it is in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws, as well as with any applicable institutional regulations.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 9: Financial, student, personnel, program, governmental, and contractual records are maintained and kept current, accessible, complete, accurate and, when appropriate, secure. Reporting is done ethically and in compliance with the law.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 10: Contracts are in compliance with the law and in keeping with policies of the larger institution, where applicable. Contracts are drafted with appropriate guidance, undergo appropriate review, and are authorized by the appropriate individual(s).
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 11: Financial supervision is conducted by qualified individuals, who implement appropriate policies and procedures and follow accepted accounting practices to ensure the integrity of program or institutional finances.
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Standard 12: Financial reserves are adequate and available to meet obligations to students, staff, and any contractual parties.
Student Services Standard 1: Admissions policies are consistent with program objectives and with the mission of the program or language institution (and with the host institution if applicable), and are implemented by properly trained and authorized individuals. The admissions process ensures that the student is qualified to enroll in and benefit from the instructional program. Both the policies and the personnel who implement them adhere to ethical practices.
Student Services Standard 2: The program or language institution provides academic and personal advising and counseling, as well as assistance in understanding immigration regulations. Such advice and assistance are provided in a timely and accurate manner by qualified individuals.
Student Services Standard 3: The program or language institution provides pre arrival and ongoing orientation (1) to support students in their adjustment to the program or institution (and to the host institution if applicable) and to the surrounding culture and community and (2) to help them understand immigration regulations and procedures, as well as health and safety issues.
Student Services Standard 4: The program or language institution seeks to ensure that students understand policies regarding enrollment, registration, attendance, repeating levels or courses, and progression through the program of study.
Student Services Standard 5: Students have access to health insurance if required and, in all cases, students are informed about the need for adequate health insurance coverage.
Student Services Standard 6: Students have access to social and recreational activities that provide a cultural context for their language acquisition and other studies, as appropriate.
Student Services Standard 7: The program or language institution clearly states and fulfills its responsibilities regarding student housing.
Student Services Standard 8: The program or language institution clearly states and consistently provides the extent of student services described in any written, electronic, or oral promotional information or in agreements.
Recruiting Standard 1: All program or language institution personnel follow ethical practices for recruiting students and promoting programs, and they ensure that the program or language institution’s policies and procedures are made clear to prospective students and/or student sponsors. In any recruitment transaction, the students' interests and well being are paramount.
Recruiting Standard 2: All written, electronic, and oral information used to describe or promote the program or language institution to students and other relevant parties is accurate and complete.
Recruiting Standard 3: If a program or language institution has recruiting agreements or contracts with a third party, the program or institution ensures that it has complete information about the third party, assumes responsibility for monitoring the third party, and terminates the agreement if necessary.
Length and Structure of Program of Study Standard 1: The calendar states the number of terms per year, the number of weeks per term and the number of hours of instruction per week. The calendar is consistent with and supportive of the program or language institution’s stated mission and goals.
Length and Structure of Program of Study Standard 2: The program or language institution’s curricular design clearly indicates the levels of instruction and specifies how students progress through a full program of study.
Student Achievement Standard 1: The program or language institution has a placement system that is consistent with its admission requirements and allows valid and reliable placement of students into levels.
Student Achievement Standard 2: The program or language institution documents in writing whether students are ready to progress to the next level or to exit the program of study, using instruments or procedures that appropriately assess the achievement of student learning outcomes for courses taken within the curriculum.
Student Achievement Standard 3: The program or language institution maintains and provides students with written reports that clearly indicate level and language outcomes attained as a result of instruction.
Student Achievement Standard 4: The program or language institution informs students of the assessment procedures used to determine placement, progression from level to level, and completion of the program, as well as their individual results.
Student Complaints Standard 1: The program or language institution makes available to students, in writing, procedures by which they may lodge formal complaints. The program or language institution documents and maintains records of formal student complaints, as well as the resolution of any such complaints.
Program Development, Planning, and Review Standard 1: The program or language institution has a plan, in writing, for development of the program or language institution, including planning, implementation, and evaluation.
Program Development, Planning, and Review Standard 2: The program or language institution regularly reviews and revises its program components and has plans, in writing, to guide the review of curricular elements, student assessment practices, and student services policies and activities. The plans are systematically implemented.
2.2.1 Standards Review Committee (SRC)
The Standards Review Committee (SRC) of the Commission has responsibility for determining the validity, clarity, and reliable application of the CEA Standards. The SRC reviews the CEA Standards on an ongoing basis in accordance with regulations of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and other applicable laws.
a. CEA systematically reviews the standards document over a three-year cycle to ensure that each standard area is thoroughly addressed.
b. CEA undertakes a comprehensive review of the complete standards document, with context and discussion, at least once every 10 years.
c. CEA conducts a number of activities to ensure the validity of the CEA Standards.
d. In addition to the regular review cycle, periodically CEA will select certain standard areas or the standards as a whole for the purpose of review and revision. The selection will depend on information gathered from site reviews, including frequently unmet standards, surveys of sites and reviewers regarding the standards, clarity and reliability surveys, or other data sets to be deemed necessary.
e. CEA will carry out additional procedures to assure the reliable application of the standards, including measures to determine on-site reviewer reliability in applying the standards through content delivered in reviewer training sessions and regular evaluation of reviewer training sessions.
2.2.2 Constituent Council
Programs or institutions of the Constituent Council in good standing may recommend revisions for the Standards Review Committee (SRC) to consider. A simple majority of all accredited programs and institutions in good standing at the time of the vote is required to forward to the Standards Review Committee any proposed amendment to the standards. Complete information about the Constituent Council is in Section 19: Constituent Council governing rules.
a. The Constituent Council is responsible for referring its proposed amendments to the SRC at least 90 days before the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Commission.
b. The SRC will report the findings of any standards review to the full Commission for discussion at a regularly scheduled meeting.
a. CEA will provide advance public notice of proposed changes and allow sufficient time for public comment by interested parties.
b. CEA will seek input from as wide a spectrum of the profession as possible, including accredited members in good standing of the Constituent Council and other interested English language programs and institutions.
c. The Commission will review all forms of input and then vote to adopt revisions. The Commission’s action will be reported to the Constituent Council and the public, along with the effective date of the revisions. CEA will publish substantive revisions within 30 days of adoption by the Commission.
Policy Key and History
LAST REVISED: January 2017