Accreditation Decisions Policy

All AAQEP accreditation decisions are rendered by the Accreditation Commission. Representatives of the program(s) being reviewed, the review team leader, and, as appropriate, an observer from the state authorizer are present at the Accreditation Commission’s meeting and witness the Commission’s discussion and decision in real time. 

In each accreditation case, commissioners base their decision on the evidence contained in the provider’s Quality Assurance Report and in the Quality Review Team Report. The Accreditation Commission applies AAQEP’s standards and evidence expectations to award, deny, or revoke accreditation. The Commission may take one of the following actions:

  1. Disclaimer of decision, indicating that the evidence in the case record is not sufficient to support either an affirmative or an adverse action. 

  2. Affirmative action (accreditation), with one of two awards:

    1. Full accreditation, indicating that all standards are found to have been met; the Commission may also attach a notation of one or more commendations, comments, observations, and/or concerns, and a maximum of one condition (see below).

    2. Probationary accreditation, indicating that all standards are met, but the Commission notes two conditions that document a potential threat to the provider’s ability to meet one or more standards.

  3. Adverse action, taken when evidence shows that one or more standards is not met, when more than two conditions are noted, or when a previously noted condition is not resolved within 2 years; accreditation is denied or, in the case of a previously accredited program/provider, revoked.

Accreditation Terms and Notations

A full accreditation term is 7 years. Probationary accreditation for 2 years may be granted in cases where documented conditions indicate a potential threat to the provider’s ability to meet one or more standards. Accreditation terms take effect immediately at the time of the decision (see Adverse Action Policy for treatment of accreditation status in cases of revocation). Terms expire in the designated year at the close of the semester when the site visit took place (June 30 for site visits conducted between January 1 and June 30; December 31 for site visits conducted between July 1 and December 31).

In awarding accreditation, commissioners may also communicate qualities and caveats through the use of notations—statements that qualify the decision. One or more of the five types of notations may be attached to a decision, each with reference to a specific standard and/or aspect of a standard, to provide information to the public and/or feedback to the program:

  • Commendation: A commendation is awarded when evidence shows outstanding performance on one or more aspects of a standard or the standard as a whole. 

  • Comment*: A comment calls attention to a finding that is noteworthy but not so significant or pervasive as to warrant a commendation.

  • Observation: An observation offers relatively neutral, nonevaluative feedback to the provider.

  • Concern: A concern notes a relatively minor or restricted shortcoming in relation to one or more aspects of a standard, including cases where the preponderance of evidence is positive, but one subgroup of candidates’ performance fails to meet expectations. Evidence regarding progress in addressing concerns is reported in the provider’s Annual Report to AAQEP and reviewed by staff.

  • Condition: A condition indicates a significant problem that threatens a provider’s ability to meet a standard and that thus requires immediate action. Notation of one condition may allow full accreditation, but evidence of the condition’s resolution must be provided within 2 years. The noting of two conditions, however, leads to the award of a probationary 2-year term of accreditation. Noting of more than two conditions results in adverse action. Failure to resolve any conditions to the Accreditation Commission’s satisfaction likewise results in adverse action.

After the Accreditation Commission issues a decision, AAQEP staff sends an official decision package to the provider. That package includes a notification letter, Accreditation Action Report, media kit, and if appropriate, certificate of accreditation status. The action report is also posted on the AAQEP website within 30 days of the decision meeting.

* Prior to September 2022, observation was not yet in use, and comment had the definition “an observation that gives useful feedback to the provider on a finding that is noteworthy but not significant enough to be cited as a commendation or concern.”