Important ACOTE Update – August 2021

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**IMPORTANT UPDATE AND CHANGES**

ACOTE® is currently undergoing US Department of Education (USDE) re-recognition review. Maintaining USDE recognition assures that federal student aid funds are purchasing quality courses and programs. ACOTE’s recognition by USDE allows the programs it accredits to be eligible to participate in federal programs such as the Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students. During this review, USDE found that ACOTE’s Accreditation Classifications does not meet USDE regulations. As a result, to remain compliant with USDE regulations, ACOTE added additional Accreditation Classifications.  

ACOTE’s current process is to grant a new term of Accreditation for existing programs and initial Accreditation for new programs even if programs have an area of noncompliance. Per USDE, ACOTE cannot grant a new term of Accreditation for existing programs or grant initial Accreditation for new programs if there are any areas of noncompliance. ACOTE’s current accreditation categories (Accreditation and Accreditation-Probationary) are too narrow to address USDE’s concerns. Therefore, ACOTE® voted to modify and add additional accreditation categories.

The modified ACOTE® Policy IV.C. Classification of Accreditation Categories now include the following:   

REACCREDITATION

Accreditation: A program will be granted a new accreditation term if it is in full compliance with all the ACOTE Accreditation Standards

Accreditation with Conditions: A program will be granted a new accreditation term if it is in substantial compliance with the ACOTE® Accreditation Standards, but does not meet the minimal requirements to be in full compliance with all of the ACOTE® Standards. A program may be in substantial compliance if one or both conditions exist:

  1. The program does not have all the elements in place to meet all aspects of one or more of the ACOTE® Accreditation Standard(s), but it is believed that with minimal modifications, these areas can be readily correctable within 60 days (e.g., inaccurate or missing information on website, signed PDPs). A new award of accreditation will be granted contingent upon the program providing the appropriate evidence within 60 days of the ACOTE action.
  2. The program is in minimal compliance with the Standard(s), but there are concerns regarding the program’s ability to maintain minimal compliance and ACOTE® would like to monitor the program and see an updated plan within one year of ACOTE action.

Once a program corrects the area(s) of concern its accreditation status will move to Accreditation. However, if the program does not adequately address the issue(s) within 60 days or the monitoring period reveals the program is not in compliance, the Standard(s) will be changed to an area of noncompliance and the program’s accreditation status will move to Continuing Accreditation with Warning.

Continuing Accreditation with Warning: A program that receives Continuing Accreditation with Warning is in noncompliance with one or more of the ACOTE Accreditation Standard(s). The program’s current accreditation status will be extended until all areas of noncompliance are resolved based on a specific timeline. Once ACOTE determines that the program has come into full compliance, a new accreditation award will be granted. The amount of time the program maintained continuing accreditation with warning status will be deducted from the new accreditation term.

Continuing Accreditation-Probationary:  A program’s status may be changed to Continuing Accreditation-Probationary for any of the following reasons:

1.   The areas of noncompliance are so serious that the capability of the program to provide acceptable educational experiences for the students is threatened.

2.   The program has failed to document significant progress toward compliance with one or more cited areas of noncompliance.

3.   The program is in jeopardy of having its accreditation status withdrawn due to the mandated time limit for carrying areas of noncompliance.

4.   The program fails to comply with administrative requirements.

INITIAL ACCREDITATION

Accreditation: A new program will be granted Accreditation if it is in full compliance with all the ACOTE Accreditation Standards.

Accreditation with Conditions: A program is granted Accreditation with Conditions if the program is in substantial compliance with the  ACOTE® Accreditation Standards, but does not meet the minimal requirements to be in full compliance with all of the ACOTE® Accreditation Standards. A program may be in substantial compliance if one or both conditions exist:

  1. The program does not have all the elements in place to meet all aspects of one or more of the ACOTE® Accreditation Standard(s), but it is believed that with minimal modifications, these areas can be readily correctable within 60 days (e.g., inaccurate or missing information on website, signed PDPs). A new award of accreditation will be granted contingent upon the program providing the appropriate evidence within 60 days of the ACOTE action.
  2. The program is in minimal compliance with the Standard(s), but there are concerns regarding the program’s ability to maintain minimal compliance and ACOTE® would like to monitor the program and see an updated plan within one year of ACOTE action.

Once the program corrects the area(s) of concern, its accreditation status will move to Accreditation. However, if the program does not adequately address the issue(s) within 60 days or the monitoring period reveals the program is not in compliance, the program’s accreditation status will move to Continuing Accreditation – Probationary.

**New Programs seeking initial accreditation may be granted Accreditation, Accreditation with Conditions or Accreditation Withheld. New programs not in substantial compliance with the ACOTE Accreditation Standards, will be denied accreditation until all areas of noncompliance are resolved. Preaccreditation status may be maintained (not to exceed 5 years) or in rare cases, ACOTE may withhold accreditation.

The AOTA Accreditation Department will be hosting webinars to further clarify these policy changes and to address questions.

Please click here to register for the webinars. Please submit all questions to accred@aota.org.