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Calculating Program Completion Rates

October 23, 2017

The CAA has identified program completion rates as an outcome measure that addresses the quality of the program’s success with respect to student achievement. Further, the CAA believes that program completion rates reflect multiple facets of program effectiveness. When students complete a program within the program’s specified time frame, it suggests that the program’s admissions process was effective, that required course work was offered on a sufficiently regular basis, and that the program provided sufficient clinical education opportunities.

Please note: As of March 1, 2018, the CAA is applying an updated formula for calculating program completion rates for its decisions on accreditation reports. The changes also are reflected in the worksheet [XLSX] for programs when reporting these student outcome data to the CAA.

Completion Time Frames – Program Tracks

The CAA allows for programs to establish separate time frames for students to complete the program for those enrolled in different tracks, including full-time, part-time, or when the program is offered via different modalities.

A student should be counted as completing “on time” if the student graduates within the published time frame for the appropriate component of the program.

Terms of Student Enrollment

The CAA interprets the published time frame as the number of terms an individual student was actually enrolled in the program. The terms do not have to be consecutive, but the total number of terms must meet the program’s expected time frame for completion. University-approved leaves of absences (e.g., for reasons of health, maternity/paternity, mission work, military assignment) do not count toward the number of terms a student was enrolled in the program.

Program Completion Data

The CAA requires programs to report on the completion status of all students in the accredited or candidate program. The numbers of students who complete the program on time, students who complete the program later than expected, and students who do not complete the program for academic and clinical progress or reasons having to do with program quality factor into the formula the CAA has developed to determine a program’s on-time completion rate.

Students taking longer or who have left the program for reasons related to academic or clinical progress (e.g., insufficient course offerings, remediation, academic integrity, dismissal) cannot be considered as meeting on-time completion expectations.

Students taking longer or who have left the program for reasons unrelated to program quality (e.g., personal, financial, relocation) or for reasons unrelated to the program, faculty and staff, or academic or clinical curriculum will not count toward the 3-year average program completion rate.

The CAA has developed a worksheet [XLSX] to guide programs in providing and calculating discrete data about student completion for the 3-year reporting period.

The CAA revised its interpretation of the elements for calculating program completion rates in July 2017 as a result of recommendations from the CAA’s Working Group on Audiology Program Completion Rates. The Working Group, which was composed of CAA members and CAA-accredited academic program representatives, recommended—and the CAA subsequently approved—that the CAA-established threshold for program completion rates only applies to measures of program quality (e.g., students not completing on time or dropping out for reasons that reflect on the quality of the program) versus personal factors (e.g., financial, relocation, change in life situation) external to the program that do not reflect on the quality of the program. The updated formula, which applies to both audiology and speech-language pathology programs, was implemented March 1, 2018, for CAA’s decisions on accreditation reports. Programs may be asked for additional information related to program completion rates if needed.

Calculating Three-Year Rates

The CAA calculates three-year rates using raw data for the three-year interval reported by a program in its current accreditation report in order to assess compliance with the CAA-established thresholds for program completion, Praxis examination pass rates, and graduate employment rates. This protocol is in accordance with best practices in mathematics and statistical analysis. It is expected that programs use the same practice to calculate the three-year averages for these student achievement measures. Averaging the three annual percentages is not an appropriate method to determine the three-year averages in order to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the CAA-established benchmarks for the student achievement measures.

The CAA does not require programs to post three-year averages as part of the data that must be presented on the program’s website for student achievement. However, when posted the data must be accurate.

Additional Resources

About ASHA

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for members and affiliates who are audiologists, speech-language pathologists, speech, language, and hearing scientists, audiology and speech-language pathology assistants, and students.

Connect With ASHA

About the CAA

The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) accredits eligible clinical doctoral programs in audiology and master's degree programs in speech-language pathology. The CAA relies on a dedicated corps of volunteers serving as Council members and site visitors to accomplish the work of the accreditation program.

Contact the CAA

Questions and/or requests for information about accreditation or the CAA can be directed to:

The Council on Academic Accreditation in
Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard, #310
Rockville, MD 20850


Email the CAA