The Commission held its final meeting of the year December 2 – 4, 2016. It has been an active year, as CEA continues to grow, maintain established procedures, and make improvements in services and the accreditation process. The number of accredited programs and institutions now stands at 325.
The enrollment contraction in the field has broadly (although not uniformly) impacted accredited sites; data on enrollments among accredited sites will be available to the Constituent Council following review of 2017 Annual Report submissions. Despite lower enrollments, however, CEA continues to receive applications, with 55 – 60 sites currently in process. Also, accredited programs and institutions continue to open or acquire new branch locations; in the last two years CEA has reviewed 25 applications for additional branches. CEA staff conducted 19 accreditation workshops in 2016, 16 of which were custom workshops; in total, workshops had 540 individual participants, 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.
USDE continued recognition
In June CEA submitted its petition for continued recognition by the US Department of Education. First recognized in 2003, like all recognized accreditation agencies CEA must periodically demonstrate continued compliance with federal regulations. USDE staff observed a CEA site visit as well as the December Commission meeting as part of the review process. CEA will next undergo a public interview by USDE and its advisory board in February 2017, with a decision anticipated in the months after.
2017 Policies and Procedures updates
Earlier in the year, following task force work, CEA published an updated and reformatted CEA Policies and Procedures manual (available at cea-accredit.org/about-cea/policies-and-procedures). A Policies and Procedures Committee was formally established, comprised of former Commission chairs, whose charge includes a regular annual review of the full document to ensure that it is up-to-date. This annual review was conducted, editorial changes for clarity were made, and the 2017 edition will be posted in January. The Commission approved two substantive changes to the 2017 document. 1) In order to comply with USDE regulations, the requirement that “educators” and “practitioners”, as defined by USDE guidelines, be on all decision-making bodies for programmatic decisions was added; CEA’s policies have always required that “academics” and “administrators” be included and these requirements have not changed. 2) Clarifications were added to the additional branch policy, by which a fully accredited site may apply to add an additional branch through an expedited process under certain conditions, stating that a site that has been subject to an adverse action by another agency or by CEA may not be added through the additional branch policy, but must apply through the regular eligibility process. This policy was expressed elsewhere in the Policies and Procedures, but was not directly stated in the additional branch policy itself. Please direct any questions about these policy amendments to Mary Reeves, CEA’s executive director.
CEA’s position on consulting and consultants
Applicant and accredited sites regularly contact CEA seeking consultants to support review of their program components in preparation for self-study, for assistance in applying the CEA Standards, and for program development as part of accreditation. CEA staff members provide extensive counseling, but external consultants are also providing services. The role of consulting and consultants poses a range of challenges and opportunities for accreditation agencies, from the need to ensure that the agency is protected from actual or perceived conflict-of-interest to the possibility of providing useful new services. A task force has been formed to study the context and environment. While gathering information, the task force polled the Constituent Council for their perspectives, with 85 sites responding. The task force has also reviewed surveys of other accreditation agencies’ positions and policies, as well as current and former commissioners and others. The task force will make recommendations to the full Commission at the April 2017 meeting.
New Commissioners elected for 2017
We welcome four new commissioners, elected by the Constituent Council to serve 2017 – 2019 terms: Susan Carkin, Carolyn Ho, Connie Lee, and Sheryl Meyer. 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, 2017.
Strategic Plan implementation
The Commission reviewed progress on achieving priorities and goals on CEA’s 2016 – 2020 Strategic Plan (available at cea-accredit.org/2016_-_2020_Strategic_Plan_Final.pdf) CEA’s work is aligned with the strategic plan; among notable activities in 2016 include development of several new resources or enhancement of existing resources for accredited sites (including webinars providing instructions for completing the parts of the Annual Report, sample Annual Report responses, and custom accreditation workshops); training for reviewers (including an advanced reviewer webinar and a regular seminar for CEA site visit representatives); supportive and appropriate engagement with colleague organizations (including CEA presentations at UCIEP, TESOL, NAFSA, and EnglishUSA conferences, and other events such as for US State Department groups); and increased engagement with the Constituent Council as a body (including discussion groups at the Constituent Council meeting, polling the Council regarding perspectives on consulting, distribution of the Annual Report Summary for the first time). Specific initiatives have been identified for 2017; following needs analysis and other study, we anticipate piloting new events for Constituents and the field.
On a personal note
As my chair year concludes, I thank all of you—Constituent Council, commissioners, CEA staff, and especially our incomparable executive director—for your help in ensuring that this year, my sixth CEA year, divided into two terms separated by a number of years, has been intriguing, rewarding, and sometimes even entertaining. I was a commissioner in the early days of CEA when we toted and traveled with enormous binders of narratives and documents. Now all of this is on a flash drive. The CEA Policies and Procedures are extraordinarily efficient and clear and become more efficient and clear with each new mind that comes to the Commission. The 2017 chair is one of these new minds that have improved Commission business, Engin Ayvaz of Yasar University, Izmir, Turkey, CEA’s first international chair. I view this as a milestone for CEA, evidence that not only has CEA improved our field here in the U.S. but it is also improving our field around the world and will continue to do so under Engin’s sure and steady leadership.
This is not farewell for me. I will continue to serve CEA in whatever ways I can, beginning with chairing the Nominating Committee seeking new Commissioners. I invite all of you to consider applying to serve as a Commissioner, the best professional development activity I have ever enjoyed.
Wishing all of us peace during this season of reflection and good cheer.
Alexandra Rowe, PhD