The Commission held its final 2017 meeting on December 1st – 3rd. Throughout the year CEA has continued to conduct accreditation actions premised on the CEA Standards and governed by CEA’s Policies and Procedures. An overview of the Commission’s recent activities follows. Please contact Mary Reeves, CEA’s executive director, should you have questions about these or any other CEA matters.
CEA now accredits 335 programs and institutions. The full range of accreditation decision types are now regularly represented on the Commission’s agenda, including initial, reaccreditation, and continued accreditations; accreditation of additional branches; results of appeals; expirations; and voluntary withdrawals, including closures. As we are now 5 years from the 2013 Accreditation Act peak and initial accreditation actions are for a total of 5 years, the number of accredited sites undergoing reaccreditation is similarly beginning to grow. Despite the enrollment contraction our field is experiencing, initial applications continue apace and reflect a broad range of applicant types.
Standards review and modifications
The Standards Review Committee (SRC) is charged with regular, data-driven review of the CEA Standards. Throughout 2017 the SRC focused on the Administrative and Fiscal Capacity, Student Services, Recruiting, and Program Development, Planning, and Review standards. After analysis of site comments, reviewer comments, Commission findings, and compliance rates with these standards, the SRC proposed clarifying edits to the context and/or discussion sections of several standards. It is important to note that no changes to standards themselves were proposed or approved, and the edits adopted did not change the intent of any standard. The redline version of the 2017 standards showing the edits, along with the 2018 CEA Standards, will shortly be available on the CEA website.
CEA Policies and Procedures updates
The CEA Policies and Procedures (available at http://cea-accredit.org/about-cea/policies-and-procedures) undergoes a full review annually; the next review will take place in early 2018. At its August and December 2017 meetings, the Commission approved changes to three sections of the document. Section 7.6 regarding notifications related to voluntary withdrawals was modified to allow for the CEA executive committee to take action to accept the notification if it occurs between Commission meetings, so that required notifications to other agencies and the field can be made within 30 days of the effective date of the notification. Section 8.6 regarding how Interim Reports are processed was modified to account for changes in the required structure of the report, state when invoices would be issued, and to remove language describing internal processing which was too specific for inclusion in a Policies and Procedures document. Section 12 regarding the implementation of compliance actions and adverse actions was revised to state the conditions under which an extension of time to come into adequate compliance with standards will be granted for good cause. These changes will be reflected in the 2018 CEA Policies and Procedures to be posted online in late January.
2017 Constituent Council support activities
CEA is committed to developing events and resources to support accredited sites, as called for by the CEA Strategic Plan, and in 2017 implemented several initiatives focused on this priority. Following needs analysis in each case, four new webinars were conducted (related to completing the multiple parts of the Annual Report including the new on-line Sustaining Fees form, preparing to submit the self-study report, and preparing to undergo a site visit.) In June, CEA conducted the annual Constituent Council meeting in a virtual format for the first time, with 134 attendees. CEA conducted 3 regular accreditation workshops, 6 custom workshops, and 7 custom consultations; over 400 individual participants attended, including individuals working at all levels within IEPs and thus extending information about CEA to a wide range of administrators and instructional personnel throughout our field. All events have garnered 90%+ approval evaluations. Additional initiatives will be announced in 2018.
2018 Constituent Council meeting June 8, 2018
Given the overwhelmingly positive evaluations of the 2017 Constituent Council meeting virtual format, the Commission has established that the 2018 meeting will also be conducted virtually. The 2018 Constituent Council meeting will be held on Friday, June 8, 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. The time and agenda will be formally issued in March/April, as required by the CEA Policies and Procedures.
It’s my pleasure to announce that from among its current members, the Commission has elected Richard McDorman as 2018 chair-elect (and to subsequently serve as 2019 chair), and Sheryl Meyer as 2018 treasurer. They will join Cindy Ochoa, CEA’s 2018 chair, on the CEA executive committee.
New Commissioners elected for 2018
We welcome four new commissioners to serve 2018 – 2020 terms. Three Commissioners were elected by the Constituent Council: Doreen Ewert, Louise Gobron, and Stacy Sabraw. One commissioner was appointed as a public member: Sherif Barsoum. The CEA Nominating Committee is charged with ensuring that the Commission profile maintains a balance of domains of expertise, types of experiences, and range of perspectives, as well as including administrators and academics/educators/practitioners, from year to year. The Nominating Committee conducts a detailed process of soliciting applications, interviewing candidates and references, and determining the slate each year. The Call for Nominations for 2018 commissioner applicants will be published March 1, 2018.
On a personal note
I also would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Commissioners for their professionalism, commitment and acumen and the CEA Staff for their expertise, efficiency and prudence for making my term a memorable one. CEA has continued to be a premier accreditation agency that serves programs, institutions, people – and above all the profession. I personally feel privileged to be a part of this organization. Accordingly, I encourage each and every professional in our field to actively seek ways to engage with CEA, to strengthen one’s knowledge and skills and contribute to the field.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
I succeeded Alexandra Rowe as CEA’s 2017 chair, and it is my pleasure to provide this first update of the year to the public and the field. The Commission has been busy, meeting twice in 2017, once in person on April 6th – 9th and once virtually on May 10th. The Commission’s activities have included making accreditation decisions and conducting various governance initiatives, as charged by the CEA Policies and Procedures and reflected by the agenda items described below.
As the year began, the Commission welcomed four new commissioners as well as nine continuing commissioners. As an established part of CEA’s good-governance practices, the CEA Policies and Procedures require that new Commissioners undergo orientation prior to their first meeting, and that further, a full-Commission orientation must take place every year at the first meeting. These orientation sessions included review of CEA’s policies, procedures, and decision-making practices. Additionally, the Commission conducted a study of the principles that characterize a high-performing non-profit association and of the fundamentals of a soundly-designed and operated accreditation agency. CEA’s attorneys Jefferson Glassie and Dorothy Deng, from the firm of Whiteford, Taylor, Preston, attended and presented a session on Association Law, which included, for example, a review of commissioners’ fiduciary responsibilities, CEA’s responsibilities as a non-profit corporation, and liabilities and protections related to conflicts of interest, confidentiality, due process, and other matters.
CEA now accredits 327 sites. At the April meeting the Commission made 24 accreditation decisions, and at the May meeting, 3 accreditation decisions. Within 30 days of the decisions, all are announced to federal and state agencies, the public, and the field, and are listed on the CEA website. The full range of accreditation decision types are now regularly represented on the Commission’s agenda, including initial, reaccreditation, and continued accreditations; accreditation of additional branches; results of appeals; expirations; and withdrawals including closures. The Commission reviewed an analysis of all additional branch decisions since April 2014, when the additional branch policy was updated. The policy appears to be working as planned, allowing accredited sites to apply to add an additional branch and carefully supervising it for an initial period of 20 months.
Annual reports, compliance actions
As the number of accredited sites increases, related compliance reporting also increases. The Standards Compliance Committee (SCC) reviewed 91 reports this cycle. Of these, 45 related to substantive changes or their follow-up, including 4 due to changes of control or ownership. In addition, the SCC reviews Annual Reports due each year in February from all accredited sites (with some limited exceptions). The Annual Report package comprises enrollment and faculty updates, data on a site’s student achievement and progression rates, and information about any regulatory changes the site has experienced; sustaining fees; and financial statements. In 2017, 315 Annual Reports have been received. Once these are fully processed, the SCC will review a summary of the data and notable trends, and as last year, a report will be provided to the Constituent Council.
Following efforts throughout 2016, in January CEA received final staff findings from the US Department of Education regarding CEA’s petition for continued USDE recognition, and in February, CEA went before the USDE’s advisory committee (NACIQI) for a final review. CEA was granted one year continued recognition with one reporting requirement. The reporting requirement relates to the USDE criteria governing the length of time a site can be out of compliance with any standard, particularly as relates to extensions “for good cause” when the specified time to come into compliance is exceeded. The Commission has established a study group to review current policies and develop new ones as needed to resolve this concern. The study group will provide analysis and a proposal to the full Commission at the August meeting, after which any policy changes will be reviewed with accredited sites and reported to USDE.
Consulting Task Force Recommendations
In 2016 the Commission established a task force to review CEA’s position on consulting and consultants. Following an extensive review of current practices in the accreditation arena, a survey of accredited sites to ascertain their perspectives and needs, surveys of CEA representatives, and several Commission discussion sessions, at the April meeting the task force provided a final report and recommendations. In the coming months, CEA will post website resources to help sites screen for CEA-knowledgeable consultants and understand how a consultant appropriately relates to CEA, while making clear that CEA doesn’t provide the names of individuals who consult.
Constituent Council Meeting
Following discussion at last year’s Constituent Council meeting in Denver, a survey of the Council, and review of the software platforms, the Commission made the decision to conduct CEA’s 2017 annual business meeting in a virtual format. The meeting has been held in all previous years at the NAFSA conference; however, the time and expense of travel for many sites is prohibitive. The virtual meeting will be held on Friday, June 9, 2017, at 12:00 Eastern. Following evaluation of this pilot, CEA will determine whether to continue to use this format for the annual meeting. The meeting agenda includes reports from each standing committee as well as an overview of CEA’s financial statements; the webinar platform will accommodate questions from attendees.
Call for Nominations
As the field’s specialized accreditor, CEA’s Commission must reflect the wide range of experiences, expertise, and perspectives present in the field and to accomplish this, each year the Nominating Committee solicits applications from qualified individuals. I encourage you to review the 2017 Call for Nominations and consider who would be appropriate candidates. Applications are due July 15, 2017, for service commencing in January 2018.
Please contact Mary Reeves, CEA’s executive director, with any questions you may have.
2017 Commission Chair