At the beginning of the 2014 Accreditation Institute, the facilitators asked each attendee to write down what he or she considers the most confusing, frustrating, and/or onerous aspects of the accreditation process. They then asked participants to wad up the papers and throw them at COPRA and staff members present around the room! The exercise gave the Institute the chance to loosen up ahead of the day, share concerns about the process, as well as provide useful feedback to NASPAA and COPRA.
With handwriting almost completely deciphered, COPRA would like to share an overview of what Institute participants noted. While feedback varied depending on the individual, program accreditation status, or experience with the process, several themes emerged:
- Accreditation is time consuming and resource intensive.
- Changing (or contradictory) expectations make the process ambiguous.
- Data collection – ongoing and/or for the self-study report – is costly.
- Faculty (and administration) engagement can be difficult.
- The difference between Standard 1.3 and Standard 5 is unclear.
- Program evaluation (including logic models) and student assessment can be intimidating.
- Drafting meaningful diversity plans is challenging.
- Expectations for the assessment of concentrations/specializations are vague.
COPRA takes program concerns seriously and, based on feedback from programs, is working with NASPAA task forces and committees to continue to explore how to best support programs and work to alleviate any confusing, frustrating, or onerous aspects of the accreditation process. Recent and upcoming initiatives are taking important steps forward:
- Reducing data points in the Self-Study Report by just over 50 percent (completed May 2014).
- Improving resources for programs: website, training videos, peer examples (completed Fall 2014).
- Assessing, annually by the Standards Committee, COPRA procedures and instructions to ensure consistency and clarity (upcoming).
- Exploring alternative approaches to Standard 5.3: Mission-specific Elective Competencies (ongoing).
To all those who provided feedback and made the first flipped classroom Institute a success – thank you! Stay tuned as COPRA and NASPAA continue to develop new initiatives to support programs and make the accreditation process more accessible. We hope to see you at the 2015 Accreditation Institute on October 14!