Dear Dr. NAACLS,
I am a new program director, and my program is up for its continuing accreditation review in a few years. I was curious to know what NAACLS’ role is in the site visit process, as well as what steps are involved in scheduling the site visit.
Prepared Program Director
Believe it or not, NAACLS’ role in the site visit process actually starts the day a program receives its last accreditation award, as this determines the next approximate site visit date. Programs are also reminded of this date upon receipt of the Notification for Renewal (which comes approximately one year before the self-study is due).
Around the time the self-study is due, NAACLS contacts the program and asks for three proposed dates for the site visit. The submitted dates will be used when finding volunteers to visit the program(when considering dates, Program Directors should contact individuals at the institution that will participate in the visit, such as the CEO/President, Deans, Department Chairs, and Faculty). NAACLS will notify the program of proposed site visitors no later than four weeks prior to the first suggested date.
When NAACLS staff chooses site visitors for a program, we look for a total of two visitors for programs seeking continuing accreditation (three visitors are used for programs seeking initial accreditation). We choose an experienced Team Coordinator that has taken part in at least three previous NAACLS Accreditation Site Visits. Finally, whenever possible, we choose visitors that are close to the program’s location in an effort to avoid large travel expenses. When selecting visitors, NAACLS will always avoid those that live within the state borders of the program being visited, those that have worked in the past for the institution that sponsors the program being visited, and whenever possible, someone who took part in the program’s review the last time a review took place.
When NAACLS notifies the program of the site visitors that have been selected, the program director can expect to receive the names, credentials, and contact info for each site visitor chosen, the role each site visitor will have, the date of the visit, and a request from NAACLS to approve of the visitors/date chosen. Programs may deny a site visitor for any reason, but this may cause the site visit to be delayed to a later date.
Once the program approves of the site visitors and date of the site visit, all parties are notified. This notification will typically include contact info for everyone involved, as well as materials necessary for the completion of the visit. These materials will include a copy of the site visit report to be filled out by the visitors, blank expense reports, and other pertinent information such as a listing of site visitor/program director responsibilities and a sample itinerary/line of questioning that can be used during the visit (such materials can also be requested in advance from your Accreditation Specialist). Program Directors should contact the site visit team in plenty of time to go over a proposed itinerary for the visit.
In regards to travel arrangements, NAACLS does have a preferred travel agency for site visitor flights. However, some visitors will choose to purchase flights on their own, and others may choose to drive (in such cases, NAACLS will only reimburse the cost of driving up to what the cost of a flight would have been). It is recommended that hotel arrangements be reserved and paid for up front by the program after discussion with the site visit team about arrival times and hospitality preferences.
Programs can expect to receive two invoices during the site visit process. The first invoice will contain a non-reimbursable site visit preparation fee (currently $500), as well as an 80% estimate of the actual cost of the visit to serve as a down payment. The second invoice will come after the completion of the visit, and it will either contain a remaining balance based on the actual cost of the visit, or a refund for any overpayment made.
I wish you the best as you begin preparations for your first site visit, and feel free to contact your Accreditation Specialist if you have any questions!