Based on feedback, there is a perception that the CAA’s Standards for Accreditation and related procedures limit academic programs’ ability to develop innovative and flexible education models. This includes the ability of a program to expand student enrollments.
Contrary to this notion, the CAA believes that it is important that accreditation must allow for innovation and reflect the ideas and hopes of professionals in the discipline. The CAA continues to work on initiatives and to partner with stakeholders to identify and eliminate roadblocks and foster greater innovation in educational programming. We hope to correct these perceptions by providing information about available resources to support programs as they plan for the future.
Student to Faculty Ratio
Although there was a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio at one time, the CAA removed this requirement from its standards for accredited graduate programs in 1996.
The CAA reviews programs to ensure sufficiency of faculty, through 2017 Standards 2.1 and 2.2, to offer the full program of study for students and for faculty to meet the teaching, research, and service needs of the program and the expectations of the institution. The CAA does not suggest a specific quantitative balance in order to comply with these standards. It should be understood, however, that if a program wanted to increase the number of graduate students, add a new track or a distance education option, or was forced to decrease the number of full-time faculty, the CAA would expect the program to assess the impact that those decisions might have on its ability to offer a quality program and make adjustments accordingly.
Ratio of Students to Clinical Supervisors
The CAA does not have a required ratio of students to clinical educators or supervisors.
Through 2017 Standards 3.7A/B and 3.8A/B, the CAA outlines its expectations that the amount of supervision should be commensurate with students’ skills and abilities, as well as the needs of the patient or client. Supervised clinical experiences also need to meet ethical standards and comply with state and federal regulations. Depending on the practice setting, certain conditions must be in place because of federal guidelines or state regulations, and therefore may put restrictions on the clinical supervisor’s availability or patient/client scheduling. It is the CAA’s expectations that the program would work out those issues with the clinical supervisors and/or facilities and make accommodations as needed.
Consortium Programs or Other Partnerships
Among all of the graduate programs accredited by or in candidacy with the CAA, there is a variety of educational models employed successfully for CAA to award an accreditation status. The CAA established specific policies and review mechanisms to ensure consistency of program assessment as programs evolved and the CAA needed to ensure comprehensive evaluations were conducted. These processes continue to evolve as new technologies and educational formats emerge.
- Consortium—Currently the CAA accredits 5 consortia—all in audiology. The CAA defines a consortium as a program composed of multiple independently administered entities, which is a formal arrangement between or among institutions of higher education. The CAA established this new category in 2005, although it had been part of the 2001 Policy on Substantive Change prior to that time. [Accreditation Handbook—Chapter X: Eligibility and Program Development]
- Contractual Arrangement—Part of CAA’s Policy on Substantive Changes, this component is defined as when an institution of higher learning and another type of entity, such as a speech/language/hearing center or other business, combine resources to offer a degree program. Although not a widely used model, it does allow for programs to consider other educational or business models and the availability of additional human, financial, or other resources to ensure all graduates are prepared for independent professional practice. [Accreditation Handbook—Chapter XI: Expectations of Programs]
Examples of Successful Models of Increased Enrollment
Academic programs, in collaboration with other stakeholders, have been attempting to increase graduate student capacity for a number of years. ASHA provides examples of some approaches that have been undertaken to achieve greater capacity.