The CAA considers the review processes—for applications and annual reports—as part of a dialogue with the program about its compliance with the Standards for Accreditation. The opportunity to participate in this way provides a more complete representation by the program as part of the overall approach to peer review and self-study that is the core of the CAA’s accreditation program.
Application Reviews and Site Visit Reports
During an application review, the CAA provides its initial observations to the program, identifying any areas for which information may be unclear, incomplete, or missing. This allows programs the opportunity to provide critical information to the CAA and the assigned site visit team about those issues as well as updates about what has been happening in the program since the application was submitted.
After the site visit, it is critical for the program to respond to all concerns raised in the site visit report for which the team could not verify evidence of compliance. The program’s response could include clarification of any issues, plans for program improvement in areas of concern, descriptions of new policies or processes, timelines for implementation of program improvements, and updates since the time of the site visit that were not stated as a concern (e.g., new faculty hire).
The CAA considers the information from the application, the site visit report, and the program’s responses and updates when assessing compliance with each standard in the overall accreditation decision for the program. The CAA uses the Accreditation Action Report (AAR) to communicate the decision and the level of compliance with the Standards.
Annual Report Reviews
It is important for programs to review the citations noted in the AAR that it receives after each accreditation report review has been completed by the CAA. Any issues identified under areas of noncompliance, partial compliance, or follow-up must be addressed by the program in the next annual report.
When the CAA reviews an annual report, it looks carefully at whether the program has:
- Addressed the prior concerns, including all elements of the citation
- Developed and implemented a plan and timetable for resolving the issues, if warranted
- Made a good-faith effort to address or make progress on issues noted
The CAA considers many variables when making a decision, but failing to address a concern during the past year does not provide the CAA with any new information. If a program has not (a) addressed the concerns, (b) considered how to rectify the issues by implementing a plan, or (c) made progress toward compliance, the CAA must abide by its own policies. Therefore, having no new information, the CAA may place the program on probation or take an adverse action, which it has done in the past. To avoid such a decision, it is critical that the program respond, regardless of the Standards cited.