The CAA is committed to strengthening stakeholders’ experiences with the accreditation standards, processes, and outcomes. During 2020, the CAA launched its “Chair Chat” webinar series as another avenue to connect with programs to provide guidance and information about CAA’s activities. These sessions continue to be robust opportunities for the CAA Chair to share information and rationale, and to gain perspective on pressing issues and areas that need clarification from programs in return.
Chair Chat recordings are linked below:
- CAA Webinar Recording (October 14, 2020)
- CAA Webinar Recording (July 29, 2020)
- CAA COVID-19 Webinar Recording (April 9, 2020)
Chair Chat Questions
Typically more questions are posed than can be addressed during the time allotted during the live Chair Chat sessions. We have developed responses or provided links to recent key topics as outlined below.
Combating Institutional Racism
Over the past few months, there has been a collective call for professional communities and institutions of higher education to deeply examine and address systemic racism in our society due to a number of unsettling events coupled with the COVID pandemic. In response to the call to action, ASHA and the CAA have began thoughtfully engaging in steps to address issues and challenges of institutional racism in the professions and communication science disorders (CSD) education. In particular, the CAA has participated in several listening campaigns sponsored by ASHA, as well as webinars sponsored by National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing (NBASLH), National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), The Scholarship on Teaching and Learning, and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD). Additionally, the CAA participated in a professional development session during its September 2020 meeting facilitated by ASHA Chief Staff Officer Vicki Deal-Williams. During the session the CAA examined:
- an overview of institutional racism issues and challenges in the CSD environment,
- terminology and definitions relative to racism to inform its discussion and ongoing attention to issues,
- demographic data of ASHA members in the the professions and students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate CSD programs, and
- ways to review accreditation standards and procedures that could help combat institutional racism challenges.
As next steps, the CAA will identify priority areas for addressing barriers and systemic issues in CSD and work collaboratively with ASHA’s Multicultural Issues Board and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The CAA plans to specifically examine standards, site visitor recruitment and training, and council professional development relative to diversity, equity and inclusion.
New Program Development
The CAA is aware of the growing concerns regarding new programs’ potential impact on clinical placement availability and qualified faculty. The CAA’s role as an accreditor is to ensure that we promote quality academic programs in the professions, it is not that of a gatekeeper. Programs must document and defend the resources needed, acquired, and sustained to support quality education. These tenets are true for existing programs as well as for those in development.
The CAA is sensitive to “restraint of trade” issues. As such, the CAA cannot prevent new programs in audiology or in speech-language pathology from developing. The CAA has taken significant steps in 2020 to ensure the quality and sustainability of new programs by enhancing its policies and procedures for developing programs seeking candidacy status. These modifications for the submission processes provide the CAA more information earlier in the process to assess the quality, viability, and sustainability of developing programs and to provide feedback to strengthen the program before students can be enrolled. Specific steps include: a) requiring programs to consult with accreditation staff before filing a notice of intent, b) limiting the number of programs that may apply each year, and c) collecting more data from a developing program when it files a notice of intent to apply.
To achieve an accreditation status with the CAA, new programs must seek approval from several entities, including from the sponsoring institution of higher education, state higher education degree granting authority, and often from the institution’s accreditor in order to offer the new program. Typically, there is consideration of any public comment during these internal and external approvals, which would occur before the CAA has even received an application from a new program. The CAA provides opportunity for public comment for any proposed programs at the time of the site visit, after institutional and state approvals already have been secured.
COVID-19 Impact Report
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, programs throughout the country were forced to make changes in programming to accommodate the needs of students. In an effort to continue to monitor the activities of programs, the CAA required programs to provide information via the COVID-19 Impact Report. Programs were asked to respond to questions and note changes they made during the pandemic in this report. All reports were due to the CAA by September 1, 2020. The report link was distributed to 357 accredited and candidate programs and completed by 99% of programs. The CAA reviewed the preliminary results of the report at its September 2020 meeting, and will continue to review and analyze the narrative data and comments. Upon review, the CAA will determine what steps are needed to better support programs and monitor compliance with the accreditation standards.
Preparing for CAA Site Visits During COVID-19
Programs expecting a site visit in 2021 are encouraged to attend the CAA’s December 2020 session on how to host a site visit (invitations to be sent to affected programs). The session will provide information on how to prepare for the (re)accreditation process including an in-depth discussion of the parameters for hosting a virtual visit. As programs prepare for site visits, they are encouraged to review the virtual visit resources and to reach out to the Accreditation office (email@example.com) if there are specific questions about the site visit planning.
Definition of Distance Education
The CAA defines ‘distance education” as education that uses one or more of the technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor, either synchronously or asynchronously. The technologies that may be used are broad, including the Internet and video conferencing, and are determined by the program. Refer to the glossary of the Standards for Accreditation or the CAA’s Policy on Substantive Change for details.
The CAA’s accreditation of a graduate program is inclusive of all modalities used to deliver the education program, including on-campus/residential setting as well as distance education. However, when a program offers at least 50% of the academic coursework through distance education on a permanent basis, it can seek approval by the CAA for that modality. The program is then designated with “Distance Education” on its listing on the CAA’s directory of programs.
During the pandemic, the CAA has not required programs to seek approval for a temporary increase to 50% or more of the academic courses being taught remotely. If the program plans to make distance education a permanent delivery option, then it must seek approval by the CAA through the Substantive Change procedures. The CAA is temporarily waiving some of the timelines to file the substantive change request for approval. For more information, contact the Accreditation office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Student Outcome Measures
At its July 2020 meeting, the CAA approved modifications to the Program Completion Rate Calculator worksheet for use beginning October 1, 2020 with the next round of accreditation reports. In response to Standard 5.5 (Program Completion), programs must include those individuals who either did not yet complete or have taken longer to complete the program in the data provided for this standard. The approved changes allow for programs to note students graduating late due to the pandemic, and does not factor those students into the completion rates. Read more about these changes on the CAA’s COVID-19 webpages under Reporting Student Completion.
At its September 2020 meeting, the CAA reviewed the currency, appropriateness, and effectiveness of their required student outcome measures (e.g., program completion rates, Praxis examination pass rates, and employment rates of graduates) in serving as indicators of quality. As an outcome of their continued review, the CAA is proposing several revisions to the current Standards for Accreditation. These proposed changes include a proposed addition to Standard 5.2 as follows, “For purposes of assessing compliance with Standard 5.2, the Praxis examination cannot be used to meet this standard as a form of summative assessment.”
Other proposed changes include elimination of employment rates as a CAA-required and reported student outcome measure; though programs may still choose to publish this data, the proposed change indicates that CAA would not require it. All programs will be given the opportunity to provide feedback through a widespread peer review opening in late November 2020.
Clinical Hours and Supervision during COVID-19
The CAA and the CFCC continue to respond to questions about how programs can ensure students receive quality supervised clinical experiences during the pandemic.
The CFCC has issued statements and guidance about clinical simulation, teletherapy, telesupervision, and other accommodations for supervised clinical practicum hours that are permitted until June 30, 2021. The CFCC will continue to monitor the pandemic conditions and adjust the date as necessary.
Specific questions about CFCC’s guidance can be sent to email@example.com.