FROM THE DIRECTOR – Winter 2021-2022

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Updates from the ACOTE® December 2021 meeting.

USDE Recognition Process

ACOTE is currently in the process of seeking renewal of its recognition as a specialized accreditor with the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). It has recently been brought to ACOTE’s attention that there is confusion regarding the USDE recognition process and the impact of the complaint that was filed against ACOTE. Please be assured that ACOTE is working diligently through the USDE renewal process and will notify programs of any changes in ACOTE policy, procedures, or Standards as soon as possible should any changes be required in response to USDE feedback. As per ACOTE policy, any changes in policies, procedures, or Standards that affect how ACOTE accredited programs are organized or operate will include reasonable periods of time for programs to come into compliance.

It is important to understand that the USDE has not taken any adverse action against ACOTE. During the recognition process, a complaint was filed against ACOTE stating that ACOTE is requiring more credits at the master’s degree level than is commonly accepted in the greater higher education community. This resulted in the USDE questioning ACOTE’s compliance with the Federal Regulation that states, “an accrediting agency must evaluate whether an institution or program maintains requirements that at least conform to commonly accepted academic standards”. Because the complaint was received during ACOTE’s recognition process, the USDE analyst opted to include those concerns in the DRAFT staff report provided to ACOTE. The draft staff report, in ACOTE’s language, is comparable to “re-opened” Standards and ACOTE has until April 2022 to provide additional information to address those concerns.

It is expected that in July 2022, after reviewing the additional information provided by ACOTE, the USDE will release the full report to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) with a recommendation of full compliance, substantial compliance, or noncompliance with the recognition criteria. If ACOTE is found in non-compliance or substantial compliance, ACOTE will have up to 13 months following the decision to demonstrate compliance. ACOTE must provide evidence that policies and procedures are in place to meet the federal requirements and that ACOTE is following those policies and procedures as it reviews programs. This timeframe allows an opportunity for ACOTE to demonstrate compliance. The USDE does not monitor program responses to any changed policies, procedures, and Standards within that same timeframe, because programs may need a longer time period to respond to any changes.

ACOTE’s primary objective, on behalf of all students and programs it represents, is continued USDE recognition. To that end, ACOTE is working diligently through this renewal process. We are working closely with our assigned USDE analyst and legal counsel and are making progress toward a solution. We will notify programs as soon as we have information to share. If you have additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Accreditation Department at accred@aota.org. We are happy to answer any questions or clarify the process. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the process.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Annual Reports

All accredited programs are required to submit an Annual Report every year, even if the program has a Self-Study or Interim Report due that same year. The Annual Report provides data that ACOTE is required to collect regarding program trends. A 2022 Annual Report template is posted on the ACOTE webpage under Forms to provide program directors with a paper version to aid in data collection. Annual Reports will open in early January and must be electronically submitted via the ACOTE e-Accreditation Portal (https://acote.aota.org/login) on or before February 4, 2022.

New Accreditation Staff Member

I am happy to announce Laura Rea OTD, MBA, OTR, has taken the position of the Accreditation Manager for Training and Operations. In addition to her many other duties, Laura will be responsible for scheduling and coordinating on-site visits.

On-Site Visits

On-site visits are scheduled as an in-person visit (subject to change). ACOTE recognizes an in-person visit may not be possible; therefore, if the status of your program changes regarding on-site visitors, please notify the Accreditation Department immediately. In addition, please notify the Accreditation Department or your assigned reviewers of your institution’s COVID policies (vaccination cards, masks, etc.). Thank you for your continued patience and flexibility. Please contact Laura Rea at lrea@aota.org if you have any questions or concerns regarding your on-site schedule or visit.

Annual Accreditation Fees

Annual fees are due each year from accredited programs, including the year in which an on-site evaluation is scheduled. For new programs, the annual fee becomes effective with the first full academic year for which the program has accreditation status. See the current Fee Schedule (ACOTE Policy V.A. Fees). Invoices for the 2022 annual fees will be e-mailed to program directors by July 1, 2022 and payment is due no later than October 15, 2022. For accredited programs and all accredited program locations, the 2022/2023 annual fee is $4,750. For programs with a status of Accreditation-Inactive, the 2022/2023 annual fee is $2,375. The Accreditation Department should be notified at accred@aota.org if early notification is required to facilitate processing of a purchase order for payment.

Self-Study Workshop

Registration is now open for the Self-Study Workshop that will be held virtually in February. Register for workshops here.

RESOURCES

GENTLE REMINDERS

  • When preparing the self-study for Section B (Content Requirements), ensure you provide evidence of learning activities and evaluation methods to document that student meet the outcomes. You must upload an example of a learning activity used to teach the content of the Standard and an example of the evaluation method used to meet the Standard. You can upload more than one example if needed to document compliance.
  • Ensure the program director and faculty licenses in the “FACULTY” tab in the eAccreditation portal are current.
  • Periodically, ACOTE reviews the content posted by programs on their websites for compliance with Standards A.4.2 and A.4.3. Please check your websites for accurate publication of program outcomes and ACOTE information.
  • The program director is responsible for remaining current with the most recent Standards Interpretive Guide and ACOTE® policies located on www.acoteonline.org. Updates to these documents are reported on the ACOTE® website after each ACOTE® meeting.

Please submit all questions to accred@aota.org.