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Executive Directors Blog

ACCET Update – Virtual Conference, Virtual Visits, and More (Updated September 4, 2020)

These are extraordinary times, not ordinary times for ACCET and its member institutions, as COVID-19 poses a formidable threat to the health of individuals, organizations, and the economy at the macro and micro level. That said, ACCET is working diligently to assist its member institutions, and there is much that is positive to report.

ACCET Virtual 2020 Annual Conference:  Due to COVID-19, ACCET’s first Virtual Annual Conference was held on August 13-14, 2020, and it exceeded all expectations.  In total, 748 participants attended, which is a 225% increase in attendance compared to any previous ACCET Conference. The participation was broad-based and represented almost 2/3rds of ACCET’s members institutions:

  • 62% (129/204) of all ACCET-accredited institutions participated in the conference, including 68% (65/96) of vocational institutions, 65% (51/79) of IEPs, and 45% (13/59) of avocational institutions. 
  • 91% (680/748) of the conference participants were from ACCET institutions (661 participants) or institutions seeking initial accreditation (19 participants).  The other 9% (68 participants) were ACCET Public Commissioners, ACCET staff, sponsors, and other interested parties.

Some lessons learned from a review of conference survey results and conference participation include:

  • Conference Program:  The 2020 conference program was well balanced and well executed, with sessions appealing to ACCET’s diverse membership.  All sessions received ratings of 4.3 – 4.7 (on a 5-point scale) in the conference survey. 
  • Faculty Track:  The 2020 faculty track of virtual break-out sessions offered for a nominal fee ($40) was extremely popular and well attended by faculty. 
  • Annual Membership Meeting:  Free access to the Virtual Annual Membership Meeting was welcomed by members unable to participate in the Annual Conference, with 41 additional members attending.  

ACCET Membership: Currently, ACCET has 204 main campuses that operate 631 locations. The total number of ACCET institutions remains relatively constant due to a steady stream of initial applicants.  However, the number of campuses and sites continues to decline, with an increasing number of site closures.  

ACCET’s membership is comprised of approximately: (a) 1/3 career colleges and schools, (b) 1/3 language schools teaching English to international students (IEP), and (c) 1/3 avocational institutions offering continuing education and professional development. ACCET accredits institutions operating overseas, including in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordon. 

What makes ACCET unique and exemplary are: (1) ACCET’s partnership for quality®, (2) the focus on student outcomes, (3) fair but high standards, and (4) ACCET’s diverse membership. We learn and benefit from each other.  Although the content of our instruction may vary widely, we can share best practices for instructional delivery and operational effectiveness.

Temporary Flexibilities During the COVID-10 Emergency: ACCET is regularly communicating with member institutions as they face the uncertainties of the COVID-19 emergency and providing updated guidance, including temporary flexibilities available to:

  • all current students; and
  • new students (except F-1 & M-1 students) enrolled by December 31, 2020. 

Since March 2020, the ACCET Commission met six times to approve temporary flexibilities for institutions consistent with the guidance of the U.S. Department of Education  and the Student Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP) to enable institutions to: (1) continue to serve students during COVID-19 and (2) help students complete their training.  Temporary flexibilities approved by the ACCET Commission include:

  1. Temporary closure.
  2. Temporary distance education (without prior approval).
  3. Changes in student enrollment status (e.g. full-time to part-time status)
  4. Consortium agreements (This option is not available to IEPs).
  5. Temporary changes of location (This option is only available to IEPs).
  6. Temporary flexibilities for externships/internships and labs (unless prohibited by any applicable licensing boards or other approval or certifying authorities).
  7. Temporary flexibilities pertaining to: (a) leaves of absence, (b) satisfactory academic progress, and (c) documented verification of high school graduation or its equivalency.
  8. Extended deadlines for the submission of: (a) Annual Completion & Placement Reporting and (b) annual 2019 financial reporting; and
  9. Extended August 6th deadline for the ASER and visit fees for institutions in the December 2020 review cycle.

The ACCET Commission also approved:

  • A streamlined program approval process for IDL delivery. The ACCET Commission voted to reduce fees and expedite the process for the review of applications for program approval to continue distance education after the COVID-19 emergency. ACCET’s rigorous standards for distance education will remain intact, but the application review process will be expedited and less expensive (through August 31, 2020)

The ACCET Commission also approved:

  • The postponement of accreditation visits scheduled in May and June 2020, including visits for (a) initial accreditation, (b) reaccreditation and (c) substantive changes. These visits were postponed until the December 2020 cycle, not because ACCET was unable to conduct the visits, but because it was unfair to institutions to evaluate them at the start of the COVID-19 emergency, as many institutions transitioned to distance education.

Further, the Commission approved:

  • Virtual (1-day/1-person) visits (as a pilot) to be conducted in May – June of 2020, including Readiness Visits to Initial Applicants; and
  • The consolidation of two sets of visits in the December 2020 review cycle and lengthening the visit cycle (from September 1 – November 10, 2020).

Distance Education:  During the COVID-19 emergency, ACCET also conducted a series of 10 free 90-minute Webinars on Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) beginning with two introductory “Back-to-Basics” webinars held in March 2020 for institutions offering temporary distance education during COVID-19. Subsequent IDL webinars were conducted on: (a) IDL best practices and (b) the IDL program approval process for member institutions. These webinars addressed IDL technologies, student IDL orientations, interaction and student engagement, learning management systems, and online assessments.

These IDL webinars promoted: (a) IDL program quality and (b) student success as measured by student retention, student engagement, and student achievement.

Member institutions are notifying ACCET of the temporary measures they are taking in response to COVID-19.  As of July 13th, institutions reported that:

  • 85% are delivering temporary IDL training, with 28% offering hybrid programs.
  • 11% are offering face-to-face instruction.
  • 4% have temporarily closed.

Among all of today’s challenges, there is much that is positive. What are our institutions reporting?  In the “chats” during our 10 IDL webinars, institutions shared their experiences with distance education:

  • What technologies are they using? Zoom, Canvas, Microsoft Teams, Webex & Moodle, Google Classroom, Schoolology.
  • Students are using: e-books, Kindles, I-pads, Lenova tablets, cell phones & I-phones.
  • To engage students, institutions are: (1) using break-out groups, polling, and chats; (2) asking lots of questioning; (3) calling & emailing students; and (4) communicating, communicating, communicating.
  • What is happening in the labs? (1) simulations, (2) demonstrations, (3) Sim Charts, (4) Miller Open Book, (5) case studies in Moodle, (6) interactive graphic, (7) electude for auto technology, (8) lab in the instructor’s garage, (9) dissecting ham & chicken breasts, (10) using virtual labs, and (11) troubleshooting and diagnostic simulation.
  • How are things going at our institutions?
    • Better than expected;
    • Attendance is wonderful;
    • Attendance is good;
    • We’re toward the end of the program so they’re sticking with it;
    • Better than thought, students are so happy to be back in class;
    • Yes, attendance has improved;
    • Attendance has greatly improved.
  • What is the glue that keeps students engaged and retained? – faculty, faculty, faculty.

Many institutions offering temporary distance education, have applied for program approval to offer interactive distance education after the COVID-19 emergency. ACCET institutions have submitted 25 applications for program approval to deliver distance education after COVID-19. 40% of these IDL applications have been reviewed and granted interim approval. The number of IDL applications may double, as the AMS dashboard indicates a significant number of applications awaiting submission. As a reminder, the deadline for submitting IDL program applications under the streamlined process was August 31, 2020.

ACCET Support and Collaboration:  ACCET is providing guidance and support to member institutions as they face the uncertainties of the COVID-19 threat.  On July 8th, ACCET convened a Zoom meeting with EnglishUSA, CEA, and NAFSA to work collaboratively following SEVP’s July 6th notice prohibiting F-1 international students from continuing online education as of the fall 2020 semester. Following our meeting, EnglishUSA organized a news event on July 13th to protest the July 6th SEVP directives.  In attendance were five (5) higher ed news organizations (including The Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed, Study Travel, Pie News), four agencies including ACCET, and ACCET and CEA members. Thanks to the ground-swell of opposition to the online restrictions and lawsuits filed by Harvard, MIT, and others, the July 6th directive was rescinded on July 14, 2020.

ACCET Virtual Visits:  ACCET staff is working diligently to re-invent accreditation in a virtual environment with virtual workshops, virtual Commission meetings, virtual annual conference, and 81 virtual visits in the December 2020 cycle. 

Staff are diligently working to prepare for virtual accreditation visits. This involves selecting and acquiring the technologies necessary to communicate, coordinate, and exchange documents during virtual visits, using DropBox, Zoom, Teams, and WhatsAp.  Staff also revised the Visit Preparation Checklist to provide easy-to-follow instructions for uploading documents in DropBox.

In preparation for virtual visits, staff are conducting numerous virtual visit orientations and training sessions for: (1) Commission Representatives, (2) institutions, and (3) volunteers. On July 24th, 230 ACCET members participated in a two-hour Virtual Visit Orientation presented by ACCET staff.  During the session, there was excellent participation and interaction among those scheduled for visits in fall 2020.  Institutions learned about what to expect of ACCET virtual accreditation visits and how to prepare.  There was an orientation for team volunteers on August 27, 2020 (link to video recording).  Additionally, Commission Representatives will conduct separate structured orientations for each visit team and for each institution to be visited.

Other ACCET Initiatives: Meanwhile, ACCET staff continues to: (1) expand ACCET membership, (2) raise the visibility of ACCET, (3) provide additional services to members and (4) offer opportunities to member institutions and their students in the following ways:

  1. Drafting a Competency-Based Education Template (approved by the Commission at its August meeting to go out for comment) with specific field criteria for competency-based education to provide institutions and students alternative approaches to training.
  2. Pursuing an expansion of scope for ACCET to accredit applied bachelor’s degree programs and continuing to work with three institutions as they establish 4-year degree programs. The first application for an applied bachelor’s degree program was submitted by the California Institute of Arts and Technology in July 2020.  Please let ACCET know if you are interested in being part of this pilot.
  3. Conducting a pilot telephone survey of ACCET avocational institutions to learn directly from institutions: (1) the benefits of accreditation and (2) their recommendations for reaching out to other similar organizations about ACCET accreditation.
  4. Participating on panels sponsored by CAPPS, CSPEN, EnglishUSA and others.
  5. Being interviewed by the editor of Career Education Review for an article on virtual visits to be published in August.
  6. Hosting monthly meetings with 8 accrediting agencies to: (a) discuss the COVID-19 challenges encountered by accreditors and their member institutions and (b) work collaboratively.
  7. Expanding the conversation and convening a joint meeting in June 2020 with these 8 accreditors and the 7 officers of NASASPS, the national association of state licensing agencies. At ACCET’s request, NASASPS subsequently conducted a survey of states to determine: (1) states that require state program approval to change instructional delivery to distance education, and (2) states that have an early end date for temporary flexibilities due to COVID-19.

I am happy to report that ACCET operated in the black in the first six months of 2020. However, going forward, ACCET shares the concerns of all organizations regarding the prospect of decreased and disrupted revenue due to COVID-19.  The award of a payment of over $282,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program provided welcomed COVID-19 emergency relief and averted what otherwise would have been a significant disruption in cash flow for ACCET.

Closing Thoughts: ACCET institutions are being transformed – it’s more revolutionary than evolutionary, as survival is about adapting. We are impressed by the ability of ACCET institutions to continue to support and train their students as they transition to and from distance education due to COVID-19. Institutions are being innovative, adaptive, and agile in response to the ever-changing COVID-19 emergency and working diligently to train and retain their students. ACCET has not experienced an uptick in student complaints against member institutions even in these most challenging times.

Going forward, the ACCET Commission will continue to closely monitor the situation regarding COVID-19 and provide member institutions with guidance as it becomes available to ensure the well-being of member institutions and the well-being of the agency. Public health and public safety are foremost during these uncertain and ever-changing times. ACCET welcomes your continued involvement and support. 

ACCET Guidance Relative to Coronavirus Threat (Updated July 24, 2020)

ACCET is closely monitoring the situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and will provide our member institutions with guidance as it becomes available. Public health and public safety are foremost during this uncertain and ever-changing coronavirus threat.

On July 24, 2020, ACCET held a Virtual Visit Orientation (via Zoom) for all institutions with virtual visits scheduled in the December 2020 review cycle. This orientation addressed the essentials of the virtual visit, including the visit schedule and logistics of remotely sharing documents and conducting classroom observations and interviews at a distance. Resources from this Virtual Visit Orientation are linked below:

ACCET guidance provides certain flexibilities for member institutions that are working to help students complete the terms in which they are currently enrolled and identifies options available to institutions so that they can continue to serve students during the coronavirus threat. ACCET guidance identifies the terms and conditions for exercising these options consistent with the requirements of ACCET and, if applicable, the U.S. Department of Education and the Student Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP). These temporary flexibilities include:

  • Temporary closure.
  • Temporary distance learning (IDL) delivery.
  • Change in student enrollment status (e.g. full-time to part-time status).
  • Consortium agreements (This option is not available to IEPs).
  • Temporary change of location (This option is only available to IEPs).
  • Temporary flexibilities relative to externships/internships and labs.

On May 21, 2020, the ACCET Commission convened and approved: (1) additional temporary flexibilities and (2) extensions to previously approved flexibilities for ACCET institutions during the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. The attached ACCET notice “Further ACCET Guidance – COVID-19 Additional Temporary Flexibilities” (dated May 21, 2020) to member institutions identifies approved temporary flexibilities in response to COVID-19, with additional temporary flexibilities approved by the Commission on May 21, 2020 in italics, including:

  • The extension of the COVID-19 emergency period to December 31, 2020.
  • The postponement of the 2019 submission deadline for annual financial statements.
  • Temporary flexibilities for the verification of high school completion or its equivalency.
  • Temporary flexibilities for leaves of absence (LOA) and satisfactory academic progress (SAP).
  • The extension of the IDL program application submission deadline (until August 31, 2020) to be eligible for the streamlined IDL program application process for institutions seeking approval to offer IDL instruction after the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Virtual visits to be conducted in the December 2020 review cycle in September– November 2020.

These ACCET approved temporary flexibilities align with “Guidance for Interruptions of Study Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)” issued by the U.S. Department of Education on May 15, 2020.

ACCET’s guidance (dated May 21, 2020) supplements previous March and April 2020 notices tailored to each type of ACCET-accredited institution, including notices dated March 9, March 10, April 6, and April 16, 2020, as provided below:

Additionally, ACCET hosted a series of free 90-minute Webinars on Interactive Distance Learning (IDL), that began with an introductory “Back-to-Basics” webinar held on March 20, 2020. Additional IDL webinars were scheduled in April and May 2020 for institutions offering IDL programs during the COVID-19 emergency. ACCET staff conducted free webinars on IDL best practices and the IDL program approval process to member institutions. Resources and videos of the previous IDL webinar are provided below:

Vocational Institutions:

  • IDL Webinar #1 – Town Hall (April 13, 2020)

Avocational Institutions, including Institutions Offering Intensive English Programs (IEPs):

  • Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) Webinar (April 13, 2020)

ACCET will continue to provide information to ACCET institutions as warranted. Institutions are also advised to frequently check the websites of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and other authorities for updated information, including:

March 2020

There is much to report following ACCET’s recent renewal of recognition by the U.S. Department of Education for the maximum five-year period, effective October 23, 2019.  Some exciting initiatives that ACCET is pursuing to provide additional services to our member institutions include:


An Expansion of Scope to Accredit Applied Bachelor’s Degree Programs
: To provide additional opportunities for ACCET institutions and their students, ACCET will be applying to the U.S. Department of Education to expand its scope to accredit applied bachelor’s degree programs. ACCET has initiated a pilot to begin accrediting applied bachelor’s degree programs and is currently working with three institutions that will be applying for accreditation of their BA programs. Other institutions are invited to contact ACCET if they are interested in being considered for the pilot.

A Competency-Based Education Task Force: To provide innovative and alternative learning modalities to ACCET institutions and their students, ACCET is establishing a Competency-Based Education Task Force to develop a template with ACCET standards (Specific Field Criteria) for competency-based education (CBE).  This CBE template will be modeled after those established by ACCET for Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) and E-learning.

Online Training Modules: To provide real-time training to member institutions, ACCET will be developing online training modules. By Spring 2020, ACCET’s website will include online “back-to-basics” training modules on: (1) planning, (2) instructional delivery, and (3) satisfactory progress for Intensive English Programs (IEP). Please contact ACCET to suggest other training modules of value to the membership.

Growing the Membership: ACCET congratulates the following institutions on the award of ACCET initial accreditation in 2018 – 2019, reflecting the rich diversity of our expanding membership:

  • IATA Training Center
  • Institute for Business and Technology
  • Manhattan School of Computer Technology
  • Saudi Electric Services Polytechnic
  • Branford Hall Career Institute
  • Southern California Health Institute
  • Gradalis Waldorf Consulting Services
  • Harris School of Business
  • The Salter College
  • InterNACHI
  • Mariano Moreno Culinary Institute
  • Professional Golfers Career College
  • The Institute of Clinical Pastoral Training
  • Universal Training Institute
  • Yanbu Technical Institute (Saudi Arabia)
  • Continuing Education Center, American University of Beirut (Lebanon)
  • Institute of Banking Studies (Jordan)
  • Saudi Aramco Industrial Security Operations Academy
  • PACE International Academy
  • Saudi Aramco Manpower Development
  • American Flight Training
  • ARC Broward dba Arc Educates
  • Arkansas Fashion School
  • Pacific West Academy
  • Graduate School USA
  • Portland Fashion Institute

At its April 2020 meeting, the Commission will be considering initial accreditation for six additional institutions, including three vocational and three avocational.

Other ACCET News: At its April 2020 meeting, the Commission will welcome a new Institutional Commissioner, Dr. Brad Bouté, Dean of Student Services and Compliance at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts.  Additionally, several new staff joined the ACCET team in the fall of 2019, including: Res Helfer as a Senior Accreditation Coordinator with responsibilities for the Financial Review Committee (FRC), Branching Review Committee (avocational institutions), and Complaints; Courtney Smith as an Accreditation Coordinator with responsibility for the Branching Review Committee (IEPs) and the review of reaccreditation applications; Kaitlyn Gough as an Administrative Assistant and Database Liaison; and Curtis Campbell as our new accounting staff.

U.S. Department of Education News:  We are pleased to report that new federal regulations (to become effective July 1, 2020) will eliminate any reference to “national” and “regional” accrediting agencies, with all such agencies simply designated as “institutional accreditors”.  This will be an important first step towards: (1) leveling the playing field for institutions accredited by ACCET and other former “national” accreditors and (2) eliminating artificial and unfair barriers to credit transfer for graduates of ACCET institutions.

Please remember to save the date for ACCET’s annual conference: November 11-13, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency in beautiful Lake Tahoe!

In closing, we at ACCET pledge our continued commitment to working with ACCET members to promote A Partnership for Quality®. We look forward to a productive and successful 2020!

Sincerely,

Judy Hendrickson

Interim Executive Director

September 2019

On July 30, 2019, ACCET appeared before NACIQI – the National Advisory Council for Institutional Quality and Integrity – as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s (US ED) re-recognition process. The Department’s Accreditation Group presented NACIQI with a completely compliant report on our re-recognition petition. ACCET then had the opportunity to make a presentation regarding our agency’s operations and results since 2013. After a brief round of questions from NACIQI members, the advisory committee unanimously supported the recommendation that ACCET’s recognition by US ED be granted for the maximum five-year period. Now, both the Accreditation Group’s recommendation and that of NACIQI will be forwarded to the Senior Department Official and the Secretary for final action. We are so pleased with the result and are grateful for the outcome. The entire ACCET team thanks you for your support!

Following the successful NACIQI meeting and August 2019 Commission meeting, Dr. Bill Larkin announced his retirement and resignation as ACCET’s Executive Director, effective August 31, 2019.  We extend sincere thanks and appreciation to Bill for his leadership, support, and service to ACCET during his six years as Executive Director from 2013 – 2019.  We wish Bill the very best in his well-deserved retirement at his beach house in Cape May.  With Bill’s retirement, I was appointed the Interim Executive Director of ACCET, after serving as Deputy Executive Director and Associate Executive Director for twelve years. We at ACCET pledge our continued commitment to working with our ACCET members to promote A Partnership for Quality®

Sincerely,

Judy Hendrickson

Interim Executive Director

August 2019

On July 30, 2019, ACCET appeared before NACIQI – the National Advisory Council for Institutional Quality and Integrity – as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s (US ED) re-recognition process. The Department’s Accreditation Group presented NACIQI with a completely compliant report on our re-recognition petition. ACCET then had the opportunity to make a presentation regarding our agency’s operations and results since 2013. After a brief round of questions from NACIQI members, the advisory committee unanimously supported the recommendation that ACCET’s recognition by US ED be granted for the maximum five year period. Now, both the Accreditation Group’s recommendation and that of NACIQI will be forwarded to the Senior Department Official and the Secretary for final action.

As you know, this already difficult process was prolonged by an additional fourteen months due to events (including the latest government shutdown) that were beyond our control. We are so pleased with the result and are grateful for the outcome. Our Deputy Executive Director, Judy Hendrickson, led the petition process and is most deserving of our praise and appreciation. The entire ACCET team thanks you for your support!

Sincerely,

William V. Larkin, Ed.D.
Executive Director

March 2019

ACCET has been blessed with no professional staff turnover for five years, so it’s not surprising that some career and personal developments would eventually catch up with us and disrupt this streak.  Here are some recent staff announcements: 

Assistant Executive Director Linsay Oakden will leave the staff after more than ten years of service in mid-May to relocate in Ravenna, Italy with her husband Kenan and baby son, Ozan.  Kenan has accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Bologna and they expect to be overseas for at least two years. Linsay’s contributions to ACCET are legendary and she will be dearly missed both professionally and personally.  We wish the three of them well as they begin this new chapter in their lives.

Senior Accreditation Coordinator Megan Ackerman-Yost left the staff in late February to accept an academic planning position in the College of Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin. This move will provide Megan with the opportunity to pursue her first academic love – science – and complete her doctorate. Megan was with ACCET for eight years and was a major staff player in many different realms.  I know you join me in thanking her for her dedicated and talented service.

We have also been informed that Accreditation Coordinator Carol Crehan will leave the staff in late April to accept a language education related position with the United Nations.  Carol’s expertise in the Intensive English area as well as her superb training/teaching skills are but of few of the qualities that we will miss as she moves on after four years and we are grateful for having her with us during that time.

So, after recovering from this news, the senior executive staff worked together to re-organize professional staff portfolios and hire talented new staff.  Major events are as follows:

Dr. Mary Clare DiGiacomo has been promoted to Assistant Executive Director effective upon Linsay’s departure.  Mary Clare’s organizational and interpersonal skills will serve us well as we look towards the future.  Her responsibilities will not be the same as Linsay’s but will encompass several key areas.

Ms. Miia Rasinen has joined the professional staff as an Accreditation Coordinator. She holds a Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology from the University of West Virginia and an undergraduate degree in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame.  Her recent employment includes education/training related positions with the Electronic Transmission Association, the Truckload Carriers Association and Teach for America. 

We also will be hiring an additional Accreditation Coordinator in the coming weeks and will keep you posted once the appointment is made.

On the administrative side, Mr. Shubham Puri has joined the staff as Database Coordinator replacing Simin Xi who left the staff at the end of 2018 to accept a professional position with the United States Senate.  Shubham holds a Master’s degree in Applied Information Technology from Towson University (where he was employed part-time in the University’s Intensive English office) and an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Panjab University in India.

ACCET has always prided itself in serving its members and although we will surely miss Linsay, Megan and Carol, we are committed to continuing such service with our new team organization and players.  Thank you for supporting us in this new chapter.

 

December 2018

In short, the annual ACCET conference in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho was spectacular – beautiful setting, great keynotes, quality breakouts, an abundance of exhibitors, and social events galore.  Sandy Lockwood, Darlene Foret, and the ACCET staff program committee led this year by Cristina Rodarte all did an outstanding job.  FIRST Institute in Illinois is congratulated for winning this year’s Tom Tillia Community Service Award and thanks to Carol Crehan for coordinating the event.  Many memories were made and friendships renewed.  A highlight was the surprise awarding of the first ACCET Lifetime Achievement Award to Sandy Lockwood.  No one is more deserving!  So, now it is on to Phoenix in November 2019.  It promises to be awesome.

We have just completed a week of ACCET Commission meetings with a significant changing of the guard and an agenda of 87 items for consideration.  The Commission welcomed three new Institutional members – Haviva Parnes (EC Boston), Megan Kobzej (New American College, Denver) and Larry Lewis (San Diego Culinary Institute) – and a new public member, Terry O’Donnell (retired Executive Director of CEA – Council of English Language Accreditation).  They quickly adjusted, were oriented and played significant roles in the recent deliberations.  Also, a new Commission Executive Committee was installed – Paul Dunlop, Chair; Yadexy Sierra, Vice Chair; Derek Kindle, Treasurer, Rick Wood, Secretary, Peggy Tiderman, Past Chair (ex officio) and Dr. Bill Larkin, ACCET Executive Director (ex officio). Despite the changes and the short preparation time between the Conference and the Commission Meeting, all ran smoothly.  Special thanks to the ACCET staff for seeing that this occurred.

ACCET staff and Commission Executive Committee members are gearing up for consideration of ACCET’s re-recognition by NACIQI in early February.  The preliminary analysis of our petition by U.S. Department of Education staff was very encouraging and we are eager for the process to be completed. We will keep you posted as the process progresses.

Washington continues to be a hotbed of activity, speculation, and unpredictability with current attention on the ACICS re-instatement, the rapid demise of ECA – Education Corporation of America, and the impact that a Democratic Party led House of Representatives may have on higher education in general and the for-profit sector in particular.  Be assured that every day is an adventure here!

It has been a most challenging year for ACCET but in conclusion, I want to emphasize that ACCET is mired in a strong and durable foundation capable of weathering daunting times. We are moving ahead with a clear vision and determination to continue to serve our members and be a leader in the accreditation community.  Your unwavering support and enthusiasm for ACCET is noted and appreciated. I thank you for this partnership and extend my best wishes for your continued success while sending sincere best wishes from the Commission and staff for an enjoyable, relaxing and productive holiday season!  

 

August 2018

As fall approaches and another traditional academic year begins (meaningful for some members and meaningless for others!), our attention also turns to the ACCET Annual Conference scheduled for the beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho resort from November 7-9, 2018 with pre-conference workshops scheduled for the two days prior. In recent years, we have been able to identify unique settings for a group our size (e.g. Hershey, PA and Pueblo, NM) and Coeur d’Alene will add to that list. A short ride from the airport in Spokane, Washington, you will find a resort and town that should be perfect and I look forward to greeting you there. One civic note: most of you will be in Idaho or en route on November 6, the date of our national mid-term elections. So, in the spirit of our democracy, I urge you to make early voting or absentee ballot arrangements, as appropriate.

The Commission has just completed a most productive meeting here in Washington, D.C. and we welcomed a guest observer from US ED as part of our re-recognition process.  Approximately 80 agenda items were addressed with Commissioners working diligently to give each item due consideration.  I thank them for their dedication and expertise. I would also like to thank the ACCET staff for the enormous preparation and post-meeting follow-up that is performed each time we gather. A fruitful one-half day Strategic Priorities session was also held and we are further developing our list of initiatives that will shortly be shared with the membership.  Additionally, the Nominating Committee had a series of meetings and the slate for new Institutional Commissioners will be announced to primary contacts sixty days prior to the Idaho Conference.

We had hoped to have had a decision regarding the future of ACICS just prior to the last Commission meeting, but US ED postponed a decision until September 4, 2018.  The ACICS issue has significant impact on ACCET operations since several institutions are maintaining dual accreditation until the future of ACICS is more defined.  Like many individuals in the for-profit and accreditation communities, we are eager to know future directions for ACICS and its member schools.

Best wishes to all and I thank you for your continued support of ACCET. I look forward to seeing many of you in Coeur d’Alene!

May 2018

The travel cycle leading up to the April 2018 Commission meeting was the most voluminous ever.  It included large teams, weather related travel delays, complicated team reports plus exhausted volunteers and ACCET staff.  Somehow, we weathered the storm and all was in place by the time the Commission gathered.  I would especially like to thank the membership for the extraordinary effort made to provide qualified volunteers to visit our numerous initial accreditation sites.  It was an exceptional team effort and exemplified ACCET’s partnership with its members.

Once gathered, the Commission faced a huge agenda.  Many Commissioners came in early to read files and attend longer than usual Financial Review Board and Completion and Placement Committee meetings.  We enlisted the assistance of several former Commissioners to serve in a pro tempore capacity; extended the Commission schedule by a day; scheduled some evening meetings; and staff organized several pre-meeting preparation documents to facilitate numerous tasks.  The Commission reached agreement on several extremely difficult accreditation decisions after hours of discussion, research and deliberations.  Everyone had tasks to perform at capacity and they did so with dedication and conscientiousness.  I thank our Commissioners and staff for an extraordinary effort.

Just days prior to the Commission meeting, Federal Judge Reggie B. Walton remanded the ACICS recognition issue back to the Secretary of Education citing the Department’s failure to review 36,000 pages of documents originally requested as part of the ACICS re-recognition process.  As a result Secretary DeVos (at least temporarily) reinstated ACICS and the clock reverted back to December 2016.  As of today, we await further clarity and decisions by the Secretary that are expected this summer.  Her initial action, however, meant that institutions who had maintained their ACICS membership while seeking accreditation from another agency, were protected from having their Title IV funds impacted if affiliation with a new agency was not completed by June 12, 2018.  This was the case for many institutions seeking ACCET accreditation but other schools who, for various legitimate reasons, decided to cease their affiliation with ACICS, are still subject to the June 12 deadline.  We have at least three such institutions in this category and will, therefore, hold a special Commission meeting (via remote means) in early June to, once again, consider their credentials before the June 12 deadline.  In some cases there are serious completion and placement challenges that some schools may not be able to successfully improve in such a short period of time.  ACCET continues to try to influence governmental decision makers that these institutions, who have done everything properly, should not be penalized but this has been a most challenging process.  We will keep you posted on developments as they occur.

I also call your attention elsewhere on the website announcing that we are seeking nominations to fill two institutional Commissioner openings  and encourage you to nominate colleagues or yourself for these hard-working positions.  Both retiring Commissioners have extensive Intensive English Program experience so nominees with similar experience will be especially welcome but the field is wide open to consider nominees with all relevant backgrounds.  Thank you for your consideration.

Best wishes for a busy, productive and enjoyable summer.  Your continued support of ACCET is deeply appreciated.

February 2018

It is an unusually busy travel season as ACCET peer review volunteers and ACCET staff traverse the country visiting schools up for initial accreditation, reaccreditation and substantive change approvals.  Many of the teams are larger than normal for some initial applicant sites while the winter weather and illnesses have all contributed to a very hectic scene.  Nevertheless, we are right on schedule.  I would especially like to thank the volunteer team evaluators who are giving their time to this effort and their supervisors who are coping back home when some key personnel are serving as ACCET peer reviewers.

The April Commission meeting also promises to be packed and we have actually extended the number of meeting days as well as enlisting the aid of some former Commissioners to serve on a pro tempore basis.  Many initial applicants are experiencing non-compliance issues with placement and, of course, this is an area where time is often necessary to correct.  For this reason, the proposal for an 18 month extension of the deadline for the accreditation of former ACICS schools is of crucial importance.  Congressional action is necessary to create this extension and the proposal is moving through as part of a Senate appropriations bill.  We are monitoring it closely and are encouraged to date but the unpredictability of the current legislative process is reason for concern.  By obtaining this extension, ACCET and the other national accreditors are merely trying to do their jobs in a conscientious and complete manner.  Most of you are aware that the majority of initial applicants for ACCET accreditation are deferred at least (if not more than) one cycle before becoming completely compliant, so what we’re experiencing here is not all that unusual.  What is unusual is a June 12, 2018 deadline for accreditation that has been imposed on former ACICS schools.

Modest enrollment rebounds among ACCET career colleges counter balanced by continued retraction at Intensive English Program schools still appears to be the theme nationwide.  We will keep you posted if we see any shifts in these trends. 

Spring is around the corner!  Hang in there!