December 2011 News

Message from the 2011 Commission Chair

Rebecca Smith-Murdock

We knew it was coming. We began preparations. And it has come. In December 2010, the U.S. President signed into law the Accreditation of English Language Training Programs Act, Public Law. 111-306. As a consequence, all English language training schools currently SEVP certified, are required to attain accreditation in order to continue to issue I-20s.  The application deadline was December 14, 2011.  On December 14, 2011, CEA had more than 160 English language programs and institutions at various stages in the application and self-study process.  This is in contrast to the 40 that have typically been in the application and self-study process at any point of time in the past.      

Message from the 2011 Commission Chair (continued)

By December 2013, those English language institutions impacted by the new law must have completed the accreditation process—a self study, site, visit, and Commission evaluation.

 Obviously, there will be an enormous spike in the CEA workload for the next two years with large numbers of site-visits and accreditation decisions to be made.  Also, there will be a permanent upward change in the workload for both commissioners and staff in terms of reports to be reviewed.  To prepare for these changes, at the December 2011 meeting  the CEA Commission and staff spent several hours in forward planning activities and took action to prepare appropriately so that the influx of new work will not change CEA’s emphasis on and maintenance of its mission, values and standards.   Some of the changes required to keep CEA effective, efficient, and rock-solid include the following:

  • Addition to CEA staff of a full-time Associate Director, full-time Administrative Assistant, and several part-time “CEA Specialists” who will conduct workshops, serve as CEA Representatives on site visits, and provide Commission support for review of various reports (interim, substantive change, reporting requirements, etc.).
  • Suspension until December 2013 of the Expansion and Advancement Committees and the addition of members to the Standards Compliance Committee, which will have a significantly increased  workload
  • In 2013, adding one extra day to each Commission meeting and adding an extra meeting in November to cope with the much larger number of programs and institutions being evaluated for accreditation 
  • The appointment by the Executive Committee of appropriately trained former commissioners to conduct preliminary accreditation evaluations and report and make recommendations to the sitting Commission   
  • The shortening of some accreditation process and decision timelines while maintaining the full integrity of the accreditation process
  • The re-training of current reviewers  (supported by funds from a TOEFL grant) to use the revised self-study report format and adding qualified, new site-reviewers to CEA’s list of volunteer peer-reviewers

 We knew it was coming:  A permanent change in the landscape for English language schools and their accrediting bodies has been made.  And CEA has made itself ready by finding positive ways to address both the temporary and permanent consequences of the growth while remaining standards- based a leader in terms of best practice in language teaching and administration, and a strong proponent of an accreditation experience that focuses on continuous improvement protocols and the value of the self-study process itself. 

CEA recommended for continued recognition by the U.S. Secretary of Education
The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) reviewed CEA’s petition for continued recognition at its December meeting in Alexandria, VA.  The NACIQI, which advises the U.S. Secretary of Education, recommended continued recognition.

 CEA was lauded for its strong policies and procedures and its monitoring of accredited sites.  There were several issues that the Commission had to address, primarily due to changes in recognition requirements as a result of changes to accreditation requirements in the Higher Education Opportunity Act and to which CEA did not previously need to respond.   Two changes that accredited programs and institutions will note include 1) a more robust annual reporting process and a reversion back to the requirement that all substantive changes be reported prior to the changes taking place.  Accredited sites will see the changes in the current annual report materials that were emailed this month.

Terminology clarification for multiple-site entities seeking accreditation
Multi-site programs and institutions are entities with multiple locations.   CEA has recently received a larger number of applications from multiple-site entities and learned that CEA’s policies did not fully address the range of possible types of multi-site entities. New terminology is being instituted in order to clarify policies and procedures for the review process and for the payment of fees.   

Multiple-site programs governed by a college or university have a main campus location, which has general oversight responsibilities for any additional locations.  Independently operated multiple-site language institutions generally have an administrative headquarters, where principal

executive and management responsibilities are conducted, or a main campus, an operational facility that provides both administrative and instructional services and has oversight of additional locations.  Additional locations may be either branches or auxiliary locations and depend on the administrative headquarters or the main campus.  

A branch is a full-service instructional site that is under the same supervision or ownership (administrative headquarters or main campus); is geographically apart from the administrative headquarters or main campus; offers a full instructional program; has its own faculty; offers an array of student services, including but not limited to orientation, advising, and student activities; and must be separately accredited. 

An auxiliary location is a classroom-only site close to an administrative headquarters, main campus, or branch.  An auxiliary operates under the same authority and administrative control of an administrative headquarters, main campus, or branch; may be permanent or temporary; may offer a full or partial instructional program; have faculty that teach at other locations; may have no or limited administrative staff; and is not separately accredited.

For more information, consult CEA’s Policies and Procedures. 

Accreditation actions
In accordance with requirements of the U.S. Secretary of Education's Recognition of Accrediting Agencies, notice is given of the following accreditation actions.   

Granted 5-year Initial Accreditation
Prep Class, Yasar University, Turkey 

Granted 1-year initial accreditation
English Program, King Saud University, SA
Intensive English as a Second Language Program, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
International English Center, Diablo Community College

Granted 9-year continued accreditation
English Language Program, University of South Florida
LAL, Fort Lauderdale

Outgoing and incoming commissioners

The Commission thanked three outgoing commissioners for their service to CEA and the field of English language teaching and administration at its December 2011 meeting:  Rebecca Smith-Murdock (University of North Texas, retired), David Quinn (American Language Program, Columbia University), and Terry Simon, (Texas Intensive English Program).  They served CEA through a major revision of the CEA Standards and the move towards digital and on-line materials management.

 Three new commissioners begin their service on the Commission in January 2012:  Nicolas Ferdinandt (CESL, University of Arizona), Christine O’Neil (English Language Institute, University of Pittsburgh) and Tom Scofield (ELS, San Diego). 

Their challenge will be to help shepherd CEA through a period of rapid growth while maintaining the integrity of the CEA review process.

New staff at CEA
CEA is pleased to announce that Mary Reeves, PhD, has been appointed Associate Director of CEA beginning January 2012.  Mary has been a devoted volunteer and part-time staff member for many years.  In the 1990s, she served as a reviewer and then as commission and Commission Chair.  Following her tenure on the Commission, Mary began to serve as a CEA Representative on site visits.  In 2011, she held a half-time position as Senior Accreditation Consultant, during which time she supported several Commission initiatives, including managing report review for the Standards Compliance Committee and conducting a study of the “scope” of programmatic accreditation, and also moved forward a materials development agenda.  Mary’s many skills will be a boon to CEA at this time of rapid expansion.

Upcoming Commission reviews
CEA provides an opportunity for input from the community of interest prior to making final decisions on any candidate program or institution.  Voluntary comments may support or question a site’s compliance with the CEA Standards.  The Commission will review the following sites at its April, 2012, meeting:  

Initial Accreditation
Atlanta English Institute
College of English, San Diego
English Preparatory Programs, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey
ESL Program, Utah Valley University
Program in American Language Studies, Rutgers University