August 2019 News from CEA

Message from Richard McDorman, 2019 Commission Chair

CEA and its Commission continue to be very active, with 2019 meetings held in April, May, and August.  Accreditation decisions are announced on the CEA website under “Recent Decisions” within 30 days of each meeting. In addition, below I’ve provided an update on several other 2019 Commission actions and matters. Please contact Mary Reeves, CEA’s Executive Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions you may have about the announcements, activities, and Commission actions I’ve described below.

Richard McDorman
2019 Commission Chair

Mary Reeves retiring as CEA’s Executive Director
The most important announcement I have to share is Mary Reeves’s retirement as CEA’s Executive Director. In the coming months, the Commission will be recognizing Mary’s long commitment to CEA’s success and we will all have ample opportunities to thank her for her service. In the meantime, the search for CEA’s next Executive Director has been launched with the appointment of a search committee and the posting of the position announcement. CEA consistently plans carefully for its future; in accordance with the Commission’s procedural manual, the Commission’s Executive Committee is charged with carrying out a transition plan, with the important goals of ensuring that a highly qualified professional is identified and that the transition in leadership goes smoothly, with no disruptions in accreditation operations, services to accredited and applicant sites, or other CEA activities. CEA is in a decidedly stable position, with a strong and highly able staff, an experienced and engaged Commission, and well-elaborated policies and procedures to successfully respond to this change.

Introducing Melissa Van De Wege, Accreditation Review Manager
Melissa Van De Wege has joined the CEA staff as accreditation review manager. (Nicole Martello, well-known among accredited sites and the reviewer community, is now the Student Learning Outcome Coordinator in the Academic Assessment Office of Institutional Effectiveness at Northern Virginia Community College.) Like all of CEA’s professional staff, Melissa is credentialed in the field, holding an M.A. in TESOL. Among other experiences, she has completed stints at a university in Qatar and has served most recently as an English Language Fellow in Turkey. Melissa is responsible for scheduling site visits, managing CEA’s 230+ peer reviewers, and providing training for CEA’s site visit representatives. Welcome aboard, Melissa!

2019 Annual Constituent Council Meeting
CEA holds an annual business meeting in keeping with its status as a Virginia corporation. The meeting, which is delivered virtually, was held on June 14, 2019, with 96 accredited sites and 126 individual attendees attending. The meeting agenda included a chair’s overview of CEA’s current status, during which I pointed out that CEA now accredits 340 sites. The management report noted that some 55 applications are in process and that CEA provides a strong portfolio of services, resources, and various webinars to support accredited and applicant sites. Each standing committee provided a report; Connie Lee, CEA’s treasurer, provided the financial report, noting that CEA is financially sound and that necessary financial reserves have been secured. The record of the meeting was distributed to all Constituent Council members, in keeping with CEA’s policies. If you are a member of the Constituent Council and did not receive the record document, please contact Mary Reeves at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

20th anniversary activities
In recognition of the fact that 2019 is CEA’s 20th year of accrediting English language programs and institutions, we have held two receptions – the first at TESOL in Atlanta and the second at CEA’s offices in Alexandria, Virginia following the NAFSA Conference in Washington, D.C. this year. At each reception, we welcomed Constituent Council members, and it was a particular pleasure to recognize the peer volunteers – commissioners past and present, and site reviewers – who have played critical roles in CEA’s growth and success. A third reception will be held on October 4th from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., following the EnglishUSA Stakeholders Conference in Washington, D.C. In addition, CEA is in the process of carrying out a study of the benefits of self-study and accreditation, with preliminary results having been debuted at the TESOL Convention and final results expected before the end of the year. Mary Reeves and Heidi Vellenga, CEA’s Associate Director, are conducting the study.

USDE recognition renewed
CEA is recognized as a specialized accreditation agency by the U.S. Department of Education. Following July action by an advisory board of the Department, CEA’s recognition was renewed through December 2022. Recognition requires the submission of a lengthy report (quite similar to a self-study) that demonstrates CEA’s compliance with federal criteria for accreditation agencies. CEA’s recognized status allows CEA’s accredited sites to meet the requirements of the 2010 Accreditation Act for purposes of SEVP certification.

CEA certification marks and new logo guidelines
CEA has secured the registration of three certification marks (“CEA,” the CEA logo with blue checkmark, and the CEA logo with the text “Leading by Advancing Standards”) from the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. In the coming months, the logo with the registration indicator will be distributed to accredited sites for use in the sites’ public postings and materials. Updated logo guidelines and approved language regarding how sites may reference CEA accreditation will also be provided to all accredited sites.

2019 and 2020 Annual Reports
The 2019 Annual Report process is complete, with a summary to be provided to Constituent Council members in September. CEA’s accreditation process manager, Rachel Herman, has initiated a pilot project to move the Annual Report process into a fully online submission. Annual Report notices for 2020 will be distributed to accredited sites in early November 2019, with a due date of February 15, 2020. The online pilot, if successful, will result in numerous efficiencies for future Annual Report submissions.

Interim Report process update
All reaccredited sites must submit an Interim Report in the 5th year of the 10-year period of reaccreditation. Following a task force review of the Interim Report procedures in 2017, useful changes were made to improve the report template due from sites as well as the process by which they are reviewed. The first 21 Interim Reports using the new template are in process this year; a training workshop for peer reviewers and CEA staff overseeing the process was held in the CEA offices in June, under the supervision of Masha Vassilieva and Emily Vandermade, CEA’s Director of Compliance and Accreditation Associate, respectively. In the future, CEA will receive approximately 35 Interim Reports per year. The piloted and effective submission and review processes will be essential to CEA’s efficient management of Interim Reports.

2020 fees
The Finance Committee of the Commission has closely analyzed CEA’s fee structure. The Finance Committee recommended that, for the third year in a row, no fees be changed in 2020. The Commission adopted this recommendation, and the 2020 Fee Schedule has now been published on the CEA website. The Finance Committee has ordered an analysis of CEA’s sustaining fee structure for future review.

2020 standards review and October survey
CEA reviews a subset of the 44 standards every year. This year, the standards areas under review are Curriculum, Length and Structure of Program of Study, and Student Achievement, as well as relevant Glossary items. CEA’s policies require that a complete review of the CEA Standards as a whole be carried out at least once every 10 years. The last complete review occurred in 2009 and 2010, with the next complete review to take place throughout 2020. The process of a complete review includes gathering data from multiple sources. In order to obtain information about the relevance and clarity of the current standards, CEA will be conducting a constituent and field-wide survey in October 2019. This survey will include information about the overall project and relevant timelines.