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, as well as in its role as an accreditor recognized by the Secretary, U.S. Department of Education, the CAA required programs to provide information on those changes as they relate to the Standards for Accreditation and CAA’s policies and procedures, via the COVID-19 Impact Report. Programs were asked to respond to questions by September 1, 2020, to identify the ways in which they had to accommodate various methods for students to meet the standards (e.g. distance education, tele options, program extensions, etc.). The report was distributed to 357 programs that held a status of accredited or candidate as of June 30, 2020. Ninety-nine percent of programs (79 audiology programs and 273 speech-language pathology programs) completed the survey. The CAA reviewed the preliminary results of the report at its September 2020 meeting, including the summary data provided below, and will continue to address individual comments and themes from that report over the next several months.
When asked about program disruptions, approximately 83% of programs noted that they experienced or are experiencing some type of disruption. It is important to note, however, that based on the narrative responses, this number is estimated to be closer to 90% since programs had varying definitions of “disruption.” For instance, 6% of programs indicated that they were unsure if a disruption occurred, while 11% of programs indicated that no disruption occurred, but stated in their narrative comments that they were seamless in their transition to virtual learning, thus they did not define a change to distance learning as a disruption.
The average length of the disruption for programs was estimated to be 9 months, with a range from 1 week to potentially up to 2 ½ years for programs. Again, it is important to note that programs have differing definitions of what may be considered a disruption.
The majority of programs (71%) indicated that they did not extend their graduation dates. For those, 21% of programs (N=70 programs) that extended graduation rates, most of these programs (78%) extended their graduation dates for 6 months or less.
Another focus area for the CAA was related to how programs were assessing student learning. Most programs (69%) made no adjustments to the summative assessment tools or activities. However, for those that did (28%), changes included:
In terms of temporary changes made in academic content of programs, almost all programs (98%) experienced a change in delivery method, reflecting the transition from in-person to online. The least changed elements of academic content were program-level assessments and program length.
Programs made several changes in clinical education to accommodate the needs of students, from changes in delivery methods to changes in grading policies. As was the case with academic changes, most programs (92%) noted that changes were made to delivery method. These changes were followed closely by changes in the use of simulation (89%).
The CAA will field a follow-up survey to all accredited and candidate programs in July 2021. The CAA will analyze the data and comments from the both COVID-19 Impact Reports to determine what steps may be needed to better support programs and to monitor compliance with the accreditation standards for the duration of the public health emergency.