Mini Manual 5: Decision On Accreditation
The on-site visit is now completed and the CACREP Board of Directors is ready to make final accreditation decisions. This section of the manual outlines what decisions can be made, the process for making those decisions, and how the institution is notified of the decisions, including the appeals procedures.
Categories of Accreditation Decisions
Programs that have completed the accreditation review process, whether for the first time as an initial accreditation review or as a re-accreditation review, can receive one of three basic decisions. The three categories of decisions are the following:
- Accredited for an eight-year period: This status is granted to program specialty areas that, in the professional judgment of the CACREP Board of Directors, meet all standards in a satisfactory manner.
- Accredited for a two-year period: This status is granted to program specialty areas that substantially meet the requirements for accredited status, but which need to address relatively minor standards-related deficiencies. The CACREP Board of Directors confers two-year accreditation when there is a belief that the program faculty can correct the deficiencies within the two-year period. Within the two-year period, the institution is required to submit an Interim Report providing the requested information. Acceptance of the Interim Report will lead to accreditation for the remainder of the eight-year accreditation period (please refer to Program Responsibilities for Maintaining CACREP Accreditation).
- Denial of accreditation: Accreditation is denied when, in the professional judgment of the CACREP Board of Directors, the counseling program specialty has been unable to establish clear evidence that it is in substantial compliance with the standards.
Accreditation decisions are specialization specific. For example, the Board could confer accredited status on an institution’s School Counseling specialization for eight years, its Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialization could receive accreditation for a two-year period with minor standard-related deficiencies, and its Addiction Counseling specialization be denied accreditation.
How Accreditation Decisions Are Made
Prior to each Board meeting, the CACREP Staff assigns the program to a subcommittee of Board members who then conduct the final review of the documentation and develop a presentation about the program along with accreditation decisions motions to be discussed and acted upon at the next scheduled meeting of the Board. In developing and acting upon the motions, the CACREP Board of Directors uses the following information:
- the Self-Study Document
- any addenda to the original Self-Study Document
- pertinent correspondence between the CACREP office and the Department
- the Site Team’s Report
- the Institution’s Response to the Site Team’s Report
Following the presentation of any given accreditation motion, the Board deliberates first and then makes its decision(s) by majority vote. All deliberations and program materials are confidential, and any Board member who has a potential conflict of interest is recused from the discussion and voting. Program decisions are conducted in closed Board session. Only Board members eligible to vote and staff are present during discussion and voting on any accreditation decision.
When conducting the final review of a program’s application for accreditation, the CACREP Board of Directors may not reverse any on-site team findings of standards being “met” without first giving the institution notice and an opportunity to respond.
Final accreditation decisions made by the CACREP Board of Directors are effective immediately except in the event of a decision to deny accreditation (see Appeals Procedures).
Policies Related to Accreditation Decisions:
- Policies Governing Timelines 2.e – Voluntary Withdrawal of Accreditation Status
- Policies Governing Accreditation Decisions 3.a – On-site Team’s Findings
- Policies Governing Accreditation Decisions 3.b – Categories of Accreditation Decisions
- Policies Governing Accreditation Decisions 3.c – Doctoral Program Accreditation
- Policies Governing Conflicts of Interest 13.a – Conflict of Interest Policy for CACREP Board Members
FAQs Related to Accreditation Decisions:
- Our program received a two-year accreditation and now we need to submit an Interim Report. What is an Interim Report and can you provide guidance on preparing the report?
- What is an adverse decision?
Notification of Accreditation Decisions
- Notification to the Institution
Within 45 days following the completion of the Board meeting at which the decisions are made, CACREP staff will send written notification to the institution regarding the decisions on accreditation. Only CACREP staff are authorized to release any information regarding accreditation decisions. This notification is made to the institution’s president/CEO, the Dean of the college in which the counseling unit is housed, the chair of the department or unit, and the CACREP liaison.
Any standard-related deficiencies that may be attached to the accreditation will be included in the notification of the accreditation decisions. Attention to standard-related deficiencies is required for continued accreditation. The CACREP Board of Directors may also suggest recommendations for program improvement, but the program faculty can choose whether or not follow the Board’s recommendations. These suggestions will be clearly separated from any standard-related deficiencies within the accreditation decision letter.
If the CACREP Board of Directors decides to deny accreditation to a specialization, the accreditation decision letter will include:
- a specific statement of reasons for the denial
- a statement of the institution’s right to appeal the decision
- procedures and deadline for filing an appeal
The Board’s decision to deny accreditation to a specialization will not be finalized for a period of one (1) month after the institution has been notified of the right to appeal.
- Public Notice of Accreditation Decision
CACREP announces all accreditation decisions and lists all accredited program specialty areas in its Directory of Accredited Programs. This announcement and Directory listing includes any standards that need follow-up for accredited programs, as well as any programs that receive a denial decision. If the program has never been accredited, then a denial decision will be posted on the CACREP website for a minimum period of six (6) months. If a program is denied after previously obtaining CACREP accreditation, then the denial decision will be posted for a minimum period of six (6) months on the CACREP website and the program will be listed as previously accredited in the Directory of Accredited Programs.
The CACREP Board of Directors regards all application materials as confidential, including the texts of the initial self-study documents and addenda (if applicable), review letters, site team’s reports, institutional responses to the team report, and accreditation decision letters to the institution’s president/CEO. Upon request from the institution, this information may be made available to other recognized accrediting agencies that have accredited the institution or from whom the institution is seeking accreditation. Otherwise, the textual information will be disclosed only if the Board is legally required to do so.
Policies Related to Notification of Accreditation Decisions and Confidentiality:
- Policies Governing Timelines 2.f – Decision Notification Timeline
- Policies Governing the Publication of Accreditation Decisions and Status 4.a – Public Notice of Accreditation Status
- Policies Governing the Publication of Accreditation Decisions and Status 4.b – Publicizing Accreditation Status and Use of CACREP Logo
- Policies Governing Recognition of Graduates 5.a – Program Graduates Qualification for Initial Accreditation
- Policies Governing Fees 6.d – Release of Team Report and Accreditation Decisions
- Policies Governing Confidentiality of Documents 7.a – Disclosure of Accreditation Materials
- Policies Governing Confidentiality of Documents 7.b – Statement of Confidentiality
FAQs Related to Notification of Accreditation Decisions and Confidentiality:
Institutions can appeal decisions by the CACREP Board of Directors to deny accreditation at the conclusion of an application process or decisions by the Board to withdraw accreditation from a previously accredited program. No other decisions made by the Board are subject to appeal.
To begin an appeal, a written “Notice of Intent to Appeal” signed by an official representative of the program and the institution’s president/CEO must be sent to the CACREP Office. The Notice of Intent to Appeal must be sent to the CACREP Board through CACREP’s President and CEO and be received within thirty (30) days of the postmark date of the accreditation decision letter indicating denial or withdrawal of the program’s accreditation.
The Board will accept an appeal request only if one or both of the following grounds for appeal are stated and supported in the written Notice of Intent to Appeal from the affected program representative:
- The Board failed, to a material degree, to follow its published procedures in reaching its decision, and that this failure to follow procedures caused the decision to be unfair; and/or
- The Board decision was not justified based on the information available at the time of the decision.
If accepted, CACREP will assemble an appeal panel and require that all documents and fees pertinent to the appeal process be submitted in accordance with the appeals policy.