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Most of you probably remember the news from January 2014 when a federal judge in Virginia took it upon himself to substitute his own judgment for that of the accrediting body in an appeal of denial of accreditation. Not only did he overturn the denial, he also slapped the accrediting agency with damages of more than $400,000.
 
The case could have been the first episode in a new reality series “Accreditors Behaving Badly” as there did seem to be some serious issues with how the staff and volunteers of the accrediting agency had dealt with the institution and its appeal. Nonetheless, the judge went further than any court had ever gone before, even second guessing “vague” Standards and making his own judgments about an institution in what is supposed to be a “peer review” process.
 
But last week a Federal Appeals Court reversed that lower court decision when it ruled that the judge at the lower court level had wildly overreached. The Appeals Court noted that the lower court had essentially conducted its own trial rather than focusing upon the procedural fairness which should have been the limit of an appeal. Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote the decision for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and said, in part, “…the district court was remedially aggressive not only in its awarding of a large amount of damages, but also in ordering that the institution in question be reaccredited, thereby overturning the judgment and expertise of an agency that in this case rested on a sound and supportable basis.”
 
This is an important legal victory because it upholds previous case law that has established a “hands off” approach by courts when it comes to second guessing the professional judgment of accrediting agencies. But even as we celebrate, we should not forget some important lessons to “take away.” Namely, accreditors have a responsibility to remain objective and impartial (no matter how frustrated they may become with a particular program or institution). And we must ALWAYS, ALWAYS follow our published policies and procedures in a consistent manner. Hopefully there won’t be any more episodes of “Accreditors Behaving Badly.”
Posted: 4/1/2015 1:34:58 PM by Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs | 0 comments


Submitted by Thomas Skalko, PhD, LRT/CTRS, CAAHEP President
 
Other hot topics shared during the  Association for Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) meeting were proposals that are being discussed including a proposal by the Administration for rating colleges and universities on quality and value of an education; the use of gainful employment as a variable in the programmatic accreditation process; the implementation of competency-based innovations in education; and proposals to create state level alternative institutional accreditation options.  There seem to be a host of items on the radar with regard to higher education accreditation that impact both institutional and programmatic accreditors.  For programmatic accreditors, ASPA is actively engaged in representing the interests of the programmatic accrediting agencies.
 
With regard to innovations in education, competency-based education is one of the topics gaining traction.  Some universities are working through the logistics and implementing competency-based education for a host of degree programs. 
Posted: 9/15/2014 3:12:38 PM by Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs | 0 comments


Submitted by Thomas Skalko, PhD, LRT/CTRS, CAAHEP President
 
In order to keep folks abreast, it seemed logical to pitch a short blog on things that are happening in the accreditation world.  I had the privilege of attending the Association for Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA). There seem to be some key issues that are confronting all accreditors. It is time to keep our eyes and ears open and ASPA is playing an important role in representing programmatic accreditors.
 

On the top of the agenda is the re-authorization of the Higher Education Act. There are competing options and priorities including the comprehensive bill by Senator Harkin, separate partial proposals from the House and the priorities of the Obama Administration.  Currently, there is a push by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) that place greater demands on accreditators. Among the topics of interest include a new push for more transparency and open disclosure of accreditation actions. This transparency includes access to self-studies, accreditation team reports, and accreditation communications. While conceptually some level of transparency may not be overly alarming, the issue, however, on how far the call for transparency goes may indeed be problematic. Will the push include all materials? Will documents and decisions be misinterpreted by the public? Will there be a requirement to release documents prior to an institutions opportunity for due process and opportunity to clarify and offer additional information that may alter decisions? What are the legal implications of full disclosure? So many questions and so few answers!
Posted: 9/8/2014 3:13:30 PM by Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs | 0 comments


About CAAHEP

Commission on Accreditationof Allied Health Education Programs

CAAHEP is the largest programmatic accreditor in the health sciences field. In collaboration with its Committees on Accreditation, CAAHEP reviews and accredits over 2000 educational programs in twenty-six (26) health science occupations.