May 2011 News

CEA Receives Grant from the TOEFL Grants and Awards Committee

CEA thanks the TOEFL Grants and Awards Committee for granting CEA an award of $14,230 for developing training materials and a reviewer corps to implement CEA’s revised standards and on-line self-study report. The 6-month project will provide funding for CEA to redesign the reviewer workshop, develop new on-line training materials, develop a cadre of trained reviewers who can train others, and conduct a pilot workshop. As a result of the project, CEA will increase its capacity to meet the needs of the ever-increasing numbers of applicants for accreditation and continue to represent good practice.

CEA has received prior grants from the TOEFL Grants and Awards Committee: one to carry out a review of the CEA Standards; another related to reviewer training; and one to create a standards document for international reviews. CEA thanks TOEFL and the Committee for the on-going support of CEA and its activities.

Law requiring the accreditation of English language schools

On December 14, 2010, the president signed into law "An Act to require the accreditation of English language training programs, and for other purposes." [Pub.L. 111-306] the law, requires intensive language training programs to be accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education in order to be SEVIS-certified. While the law uses the term independent English language “programs,” it applies to independent English language institutions/schools, as defined by CEA. College or university intensive English programs (IEPs) governed by a nationally or regionally accredited university or college are considered accredited, so the law does not apply although many seek specialized accreditation through CEA in addition. The law becomes effective on June 12, 2011. Non-accredited English language institutions that are already SEVIS-certified have one year to apply for accreditation by a Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency—ACCET or CEA. Students may attend SEVIS-certified non-accredited schools for three years after enactment if the school applied for accreditation within one year from the date of enactment.

New self-study report template

The new template for the CEA self-study report was introduced to workshop participants at Accreditation Workshops in January and prior to the TESOL convention in March. Rather than giving sites “suggestions” for how they might respond to the standards, the new template has required responses in the form of narrative text boxes, check lists, fillable forms, and yes/no/if then questions, as well as required documents. From now on all sites will be required to submit the self-study report electronically, with hyperlinks to documents. Once CEA’s new on-line system is ready (planned for the end of this year), sites will be required to submit on-line.

2011 Commission meets in Alexandria, VA

The 2011 Commission had its first meeting in Alexandria, VA, April 15-17.  Newly elected members in the first year of their  3-year tenure are Christa Hansen, Georgetown University; Dana Harper, Emily Griffith Opportunity School (Denver); Steve Thewlis (Golden Gate University, retired); and Bill Wallace (University of Alabama.  All have experience as CEA reviewers and self-study coordinators.  Eileen Kropf (George Mason University) was appointed as public member and brings vast international experience with the U.S Department of State, the American Councils for International Education and other organizations. 

Expanded Scope of Programmatic Accreditation

CEA’s scope of accreditation, as defined by the U.S. Secretary of Education, is programmatic and   institutional accreditation.  Programmatic accreditation is available for intensive English programs with a direct reporting line within the administration of universities and colleges, including community colleges, which are accredited by regional or national accrediting agencies.  (See report in the January News from CEA.)  Institutional accreditation is available for stand-alone English language schools.  CEA must review all programs offered by the stand-alone school, including all English, TEFL teacher training, and foreign language programs. 

 Programmatic accreditation has focused on the review of intensive English programs (IEPs) in colleges and universities. However, there has been a growing and changing range of intensive and semi-intensive programs offered by a “unit” such as an “English Language Institute” on campuses, and CEA has received requests from applicants for possible review of all programs within the unit, beyond the IEP itself.  To address this, a Commission Task Force on Programmatic Accreditation was charged with looking at the need for a change relative to the definition of programmatic accreditation.  The Task Force first sent a survey to all Constituent Council members, the purpose of which was to seek input on the desirability of expanding the scope of programmatic accreditation in order to shape recommendations for the Commission.  Among the 26 respondents, it appeared that the range of programs and courses offered by units delivering IEPs is growing and that programs support the option of having CEA review and accredit other intensive, semi-intensive, or regularly offered programs in the unit.

Task force findings and recommendations were presented to the Commission at its April meeting.  As permitted by U.S. Department of Education regulations, the Commission approved a revision to the definition of programmatic accreditation which will now include two options for accreditation in addition to the accreditation of primary IEP:  1) accreditation of the whole English language unit of which the IEP is a part, or 2) accreditation of selected intensive and semi-intensive, regularly-offered English language programs within the English language unit of which the IEP is a part. 

CEA is now developing processes to implement these changes and to ensure that public postings of CEA accreditation accurately reflect the program or units that are reviewed.  More information will be presented at the meeting of the Constituent Council on June 2 in Vancouver and included in the next issue of the News from CEA.

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 following sites are up for review by the Commission at its August, 2011, meeting: 


The New Intensive Courses in English, University of Hawaii at Manoa

 Initial Accreditation

Academic Bridge Program, Qatar Foundation, Qatar

Academic Preparation and Technician Preparation Programs, College of the North Atlantic—Qatar

Culture and Intensive English Program, The University of Northern Iowa

English Language Institute Sam Houston State University

English Language Institute, University of Hawaii at Hilo

English Program, King Saud University, Riyadh

Intensive English Program, Xavier University

St. Giles International, New York City