A more detailed perspective of this process is provided in various ACCET documents, beginning with ACCET Document 1 – The Accreditation Process.
The entire accreditation process is completed within ACCET’s Accreditation Management System (AMS). Hard copy inquiries, applications, or ASERs will not be accepted.
The first step in the accreditation process is to create an account in AMS. From within AMS, then complete and submit the Inquiry Questionnaire and processing fee to determine whether an institution is eligible to apply for ACCET accreditation.
Formal application to ACCET for initial review and consideration to determine eligibility requires the submission of ACCET Document 4 – Application for Accreditation, supporting documentation and a process fee. Acceptance of the application is not an indication or assessment of the institution’s compliance with Standards for Accreditation but simply an initial indicator of congruence with the eligibility requirements.
Accreditation and Evaluation Workshop
All applicants are required to send at least one representative to the ACCET Accreditation Workshop before submitting the Analytic Self-Evaluation Report (ASER). The workshops are designed to provide an in-depth study of the ACCET accreditation process in order to assist the institution in the preparation of the ASER, the on-site evaluation and the actions of the Commission.
Analytic Self-Evaluation Report (ASER)
Following acceptance of the application and registration/participation at the Workshop, the institution will complete and submit to ACCET the Analytic Self-Evaluation Report (ASER). The ASER is not simply an assemblage of descriptive data and information but must reflect a penetrating analysis of the operation, its strengths and weaknesses. This evaluation is expected to be a vital experience which yields significant insights for program improvement. The analysis is expected to induce the applicant to reassess its objectives, resources, programs, policies, procedures, and achievements.
After the ASER has been received by the ACCET staff, arrangements are made for an examination team to make an on-site visit. Examination team members are chosen with particular regard for the unique characteristics of the institution and program(s) to be evaluated. Examination teams vary in size and constituency depending upon the focus and complexity of the applicant’s program(s). The team members are assigned various individual responsibilities depending upon their area(s) of expertise with one team member serving as chairperson. Each major content area will be examined by a competent specialist with an educational and experiential background in the subject field. The composition of a team will typically include a Commission Representative, a Management/Administration Specialist, and a Continuing Education/Curriculum Content Specialist(s) as needed.
The On-Site Examination Team visit is a fact-finding initiative on behalf of the Accrediting Commission. The primary responsibility of the Team during the visit is to establish an objective comparative analysis of the institution’s ASER and the operational characteristics relevant to each of the ACCET Document 2 – Standards for Accreditation, as demonstrated by actual practices. Team examiners will seek to verify the accuracy and validity of the information and data contained in the ASER through inquiry, observation and sampling techniques. Both administrative and educational activities are reviewed in the context of the ACCET standards, policies and procedures.
The Team prepares a report of the visit and submits it to the ACCET office for processing. A copy of this report is sent to the applicant institution, providing an opportunity to respond and to submit additional documentation, pertinent to factors existent at the time of the visit, for consideration by the Accrediting Commission.
Accrediting Commission Action
The Accrediting Commission meets periodically to review and evaluate institutions, and may accredit for a period up to five years (a maximum of three years for initial vocational school applicants), defer accreditation pending further evidence or required changes, deny accreditation or, withdraw accreditation from an institution that is currently accredited. A written report of the Commission’s decision is made to the applicant within 30 days from the conclusion of the Commission meeting. ACCET publishes Commission Reports summarizing actions taken at recent Commission Meetings.
While there is no fixed, definitive timeframe for completing the initial accreditation review process, twelve (12) months is a reasonable estimate for an institution committed to a serious investment of the necessary resources. An initial application expires one year from the date of receipt at ACCET, unless officially accepted along with the subsequent receipt of an ASER, request for on-site visit and fees within that timeframe. Applicants accepted prior to the conclusion of a given Commission review cycle (April, August or December) may be scheduled for an on-site evaluation during the following review cycle based upon timely submission of the appropriate documentation and fees. Please review the Accreditation Review Schedule.