What are the CAA’s expectations for documenting compliance with a standard?
When CAA members assess a program’s compliance with accreditation standards, they closely follow the Requirements for Review listed under each standard. If policies or procedures are required, the program should expect to provide a copy to the CAA. However, having a new policy or procedure on its own may not be sufficient. The CAA would expect to see evidence of implementation, dissemination, communication, and other appropriate documentation.
Here are a few examples to demonstrate how the CAA sets expectations for documenting compliance.
The CAA cites a program for having an outdated strategic plan (Standard 1.5). The program has indicated that the new provost is spearheading a university-wide review of strategic goals and that updates at the department and program level are pending. Although the program shares a draft of the program’s strategic plan, this is not sufficient to be in compliance with this standard. The Requirements for Review for Standard 1.5 provide guidance about making sure the program’s long-term goals are on par with those of the institution, are measurable, are evaluated periodically, and are disseminated to appropriate stakeholders.
A program was cited under Standard 3.1 for curricular deficiencies. The program advises the CAA that a new course to address limitations in its curriculum has been proposed. Proposing a course to address the identified issue is not sufficient to document compliance. The CAA is likely to ask further questions and for more documentation to ensure the proposed course becomes integrated into the curriculum as expected:
- Is the new course approved and faculty assigned?
- When will the new course be integrated into the curriculum?
- What is the program’s plan to address the deficiency until the course is officially offered?
- How are students being notified of the new course and whether it is an elective or required?
- How has the program updated its tracking forms and mechanisms to reflect the new course, related knowledge, and skill areas?
- And so forth…
In both scenarios, the program has responded with appropriate plans to address CAA’s citation with a simple, straightforward solution. However, if the solution is not implemented, this may not be sufficient to meet CAA’s expectations as outlined in the Standards for Accreditation [PDF]. It also is important to keep in mind, highlighted in the second example, how one change can have a ripple effect onto other standards.