December 2020 News from CEA

2020 End of Year Message from CEA Chair, Susan Carkin

CEA’s engagement with the historical and singular events that characterize 2020 challenged the agency, staff, and board on numerous fronts. We witnessed closures, transformations, innovations, and regrouping among jobs, program modalities, positions, curriculum, teaching, and testing. Overshadowing every aspect of the changed educational environment were health concerns and safe practices. We experienced a wide range of these events within our own CEA microcosm, affecting staff, commissioners, our programs/institutions, and our professional lives and futures. Overall, the Commission got its work done, met the challenges with effective responses, from personnel to policy, and took on some progressive and future-oriented work on behalf of English language programs around the world. We want to acknowledge, with understanding and compassion, that while this year was extraordinarily difficult overall, it was especially challenging for English language programs and professionals across our global educational setting.

All CEA meetings were held on Zoom in 2020: our three annual meetings, several follow-up meetings, all the standing committees, the Executive Committee, a task force, various professional development activities, and weekly meetings between the executive director and chair. It was quite a transition year for CEA’s new executive director, Dr. Heidi Vellenga, who assumed her role on February 1, 2020. One of her first official acts as executive director involved the release of the CEA Statement on COVID-19. Taking into account guidance from the USDE and SEVP, CEA addressed the next immediate need brought on by the effects of the COVID-19  pandemic: development of protocols and guidance documents to programs and institutions to support them as many sites transitioned to online and hybrid formats. Heidi also successfully oversaw the office transition to work from home, and quickly reorganized the April Commission meeting format with its professional development activities revised for online engagement using Zoom. New protocols were developed to accommodate the virtual environment and the work took off. As one of the commissioners noted with appreciation for Heidi’s leadership in 2020: No balls were dropped. What follows is a brief summary of the Commission’s work under Heidi’s first year of leadership.

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June 2020 News from CEA

Commission activities
Per temporary flexibilities extended to recognized accreditors by the US Department of Education, the Commission has recently approved three temporary policy amendments, as reflected in Section 23 (new) of the CEA Policies and Procedures. New policies relate to site visits, extensions to the period of accreditation, and eligibility during cases of extended hiatus. These policies are adopted in response to COVID-19 and will remain in place until withdrawn or revoked by the Commission.

April 2020 News from CEA

Message from Susan Carkin, 2020 Commission Chair
Greetings on behalf of CEA. I’m honored to be CEA’s chair for what has started out as quite a challenging year. I have the further honor of working with CEA’s new Executive Director, Heidi Vellenga, PhD, who served CEA as Associate Director for the past five years. Heidi’s deep experience and knowledge of CEA operations have permitted a relatively seamless transition to the new year and ongoing work. CEA’s previous Executive Director, Dr. Mary Reeves, has agreed to stay involved part-time in 2020 as Executive Advisor to support CEA and ensure a smooth transition, as planned.

CEA’s regular April meeting was held virtually on its scheduled dates, April 4 - 6, after a brief sound check and practice session with CEA tech support the night before the meeting. The Zoom platform afforded us some new ways of working while also ensuring security of documents and discussion. The Commission accomplished its planned work: annual orientation of the full Commission, accreditation decisions, professional development sessions, committee meetings, and the range of reports and updates that are delivered in every meeting. For the August meeting, the Commission has tentative plans for commissioners to be present in Alexandria, but we will remain attentive to the status of the virus and the potential risks to all involved.

Further below you’ll find a summary of CEA’s work, but I want to highlight one development reflecting CEA’s commitment to monitor developments in the field and adjust accreditation practices if warranted. At the April meeting, I presented a 2020 Scope Task Force charge to the Commission. CEA analyses reveal trends of a range of reconfigurations among English language programs and institutions as they work to manage market demands as well as institutional and demographic realities. The Task Force will review CEA’s scope and eligibility criteria to determine if changes are needed to meet the changing needs of the field. The Scope Task Force has been struck and will convene the first meeting in early May. Outcomes of the work of the Task Force will be reported to constituents and the field when available.

On a final note, I encourage you to consider the 2021-23 Call for Nominations. CEA commissioners have responsibilities in two important areas: as the accreditation decision-making body and as the governing body of CEA as a nonprofit corporation. Commissioner qualifications are outlined in the call, and the current call encourages applicants with community college experience or those who have jobs which involve at least 50% teaching. We invite you to put yourself forward or encourage others to apply to join us in serving the field and helping CEA achieve its mission.

Susan Carkin, PhD
2020 Commission Chair

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