AAQEP accreditation is an expression of confidence that an educator preparation program meets or exceeds AAQEP’s standards of quality and is satisfactorily achieving its own objectives. AAQEP is therefore concerned with institutional integrity and with performance consistent with its standards and policies.
AAQEP values information provided by students, faculty, and other members of the public about accredited programs to help the agency assure that programs continue to meet AAQEP standards. Comments about member providers are solicited explicitly via a third-party comment web page and form during the months leading up to a site visit, but they are welcome at any time via email (see “Contact Us” button at the bottom of every webpage or the “Comment on a Member” button in the Directory of Accredited Programs). Likewise, comments about AAQEP itself or its staff are accepted at any time via the same email address.
The following procedures provide a mechanism for AAQEP to consider complaints against member providers, the agency, or its staff.
Complaints Against Members of AAQEP
Complaints by a third party that pertain to an accredited AAQEP member, or action by a relevant authority involving an accredited member, are reviewed in accordance with the procedures for review of complaints set forth in Steps 1–8 below.
AAQEP attends carefully to complaints about members that address violations of AAQEP’s standards of accreditation, eligibility requirements, or procedures. AAQEP does not, however, intervene in the internal procedures of institutions or perform as a regulatory body or grievance-resolving body for the institution. Accordingly, AAQEP does not consider allegations concerning the personal lives of individuals connected with its affiliate or regular member providers, and it assumes no responsibility for adjudicating isolated grievances between students, faculty, or members of the public and individual providers. Furthermore, AAQEP will not act as a court of appeal in matters of admission, granting or transfer of academic credit, grades, fees, student financial aid, student discipline, collective bargaining, staff or faculty appointments, promotion, tenure, or dismissals or similar matters.
AAQEP considers written complaints only where the complainant is identified. The written complaint should include relevant information to support the allegation. Before Steps 1–8 (below) are implemented, the complainant should demonstrate that a serious effort was made to resolve the issue through an institution’s or program’s own quality control procedures.
Procedures for review of a complaint against an AAQEP member
- A complaint received by AAQEP about one of its members is acknowledged in writing and reviewed by the AAQEP president.
- If the president determines that the complaint is not within the scope of AAQEP’s policies, he or she so informs the complainant within 30 days of receipt of the complaint. If the president considers it necessary at this time, he or she refers the complainant to appropriate federal, state, or other agencies.
- If the complaint appears to be within the scope of AAQEP’s responsibility and is documented, a copy of the complaint is forwarded to the program head, who must respond within 30 days. The identity of the complainant, if requested by the complainant, is held in confidence. The provider must present evidence to AAQEP that its policies and processes are functioning as they were represented in its Quality Assurance Report and that the complaint does not represent a breach of AAQEP’s standards. (AAQEP itself may initiate a complaint against a member at this step in the procedure in accordance with its Adverse Action Policy.)
- The program’s response is reviewed by AAQEP to determine the status of the complaint in light of AAQEP’s standards or policies. An analysis by staff is prepared within 30 days of receipt of the program’s response.
- Within 30 days of receipt of the member’s response to the complaint, the AAQEP president forwards the materials to the chair of the Accreditation Commission. The chair consults with at least four additional commissioners. Meeting in person or electronically, this five-member subcommittee may determine that the program has demonstrated that its policies and processes are functioning as they were represented in the Quality Assurance Report and that it continues to meet AAQEP’s standards, or the subcommittee may request that additional information be forwarded to the Accreditation Commission as a whole. In the former case, the chair of the Commission communicates with the member and the complainant as described in Step 8 below. In the latter case, the program is notified of the Accreditation Commission’s decision to consider the complaint and is permitted to provide additional evidence concerning the matters addressed in the complaint.
- At the next meeting of the Accreditation Commission, commissioners review the program’s responses and decide whether the complaint represents a breach of AAQEP’s standards and whether the member should submit additional information regarding the complaint and the program’s compliance with AAQEP standards. A written response that details the basis for the Accreditation Commission’s decision is sent within 30 days of this meeting to the member’s representative; if additional information is required, the member has 6 months to address the issue and bring forward further evidence.
- If the member fails to respond to the complaint, the Accreditation Commission may take action against the program. If the member presents new evidence, AAQEP staff reviews that evidence and presents a staff analysis to the member (for factual correction) and subsequently to the Accreditation Commission for its decision regarding the provider’s accreditation status.
- The chair of the Accreditation Commission informs the complainant and the member of the actions taken with regard to the complaint in writing within 30 days of the meeting at which it makes its determination.
Complaints Against AAQEP or AAQEP Staff
Complaints by accredited programs or other parties about the operations of AAQEP shall be brought to the attention of the president of AAQEP. The matter is then investigated by the president, who brings the matter to the attention of the Executive Committee of the Board within 30 days of receipt of the complaint. The Executive Committee of the Board determines the appropriate action, if any, to be taken in response to the complaint.
A complaint involving the president shall be brought to the attention of the chair of the Board within 30 days of its receipt. The chair then investigates the matter and accepts a written statement from the president prior to review by the Executive Committee of the Board.
In either case, the Executive Committee responds to any complaint within 90 days of its receipt by AAQEP.