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Eve of new regulatory era looms in the USA

ACCET and CEA, Department of Education-recognised accrediting agencies, followed up by presenting trends on IEPs driven by the Accreditation Act. With the estimated jump from 190 to 260 accredited sites once the deadline passes, CEA had 70 sites in process when they presented at the conference.

James Stakenburg explained how the accreditation process has benefited his institution

Around 150 new programs accredited by just one of the two quality assurance agencies since 2011

Though site visits had all occurred, the Commission planned to review and come to accreditation decisions for 38 sites at its October meeting, followed by an additional 38-40 decisions at its December meeting. The increased workload has led to CEA hiring both extra staff and people on contract.

“We have had to train about 180 site visitors, since we send two peer reviewers on each site visit. It has been quite a ride these past two years,” Teresa O’Donnell, Executive Director of CEA, told The PIE News.

CEA also took the additional step of moving some university programs, which do not have the same requirement to meet the December deadline, to visits in early 2014.

“CEA staff have met the challenge,” said O’Donnell. “Site visits have all been completed so that sites can be reviewed by the December meeting and the deadline.”

“It has been quite a ride these past two years”

With a time-pressured challenges facing both IEPs and accrediting agencies, the conference also touched on the motivations behind the Act, including enhancing programme quality and establishing requirements and standards — “in effect,” said Hendrickson of ACCET, “to raise the bar.”

James Stakenburg’s case study on behalf of Rennert demonstrated that it has succeeded in achieving this.

He pinpointed benefits such as increased student and teacher satisfaction and greater oversight of staff as some of the many eventual advantages of getting accredited, though the process was difficult.

“The biggest thing was the sheer amount of work involved in the review process and the preparation of the self-analytical report,” he said. “We took someone off their regular job full-time for 3 months and most staff had extra work to do as well.”

He continued, “Also, achieving buy-in from all staff and faculty was challenging. Because we had to revise some of our procedures, there was some resistance to change (as there often is).”

He pinpointed benefits such as increased student and teacher satisfaction and greater oversight of staff

Stakenburg, Head of Teacher Training, added that because of the time constraints, “some of these changes seemed greater to some staff/ faculty than they really were.”

Overall, however, the benefits made the process worthwhile, he asserted. “For some short-term pain we have achieved a lot of long-term gains.”

He detailed some ongoing concerns, such as the increased paperwork involved, noting that one change of a student’s booking or details can result in amending six or seven documents.

“But the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, and the hurdles while going through the process are now over,” Stakenburg explained.

English USA, also known as the American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP), has a membership of over 330 accredited programs across the United States. The IEP Stakeholders’ Conference aimed to build on Advocacy Day activities for IEPs.

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