By Dianne M. Cearlock, PhD, Chief Executive Officer
Just as educational programs in the clinical laboratory science disciplines go through rigorous review processes to achieve accreditation or approval from NAACLS, NAACLS recently underwent similar processes to be awarded continuing recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Applying for recognition and complying with CHEA standards is a voluntary process of external review that protects the public by ensuring that accrediting organizations meet established quality standards.
CHEA is a non-governmental higher education organization that affirms the quality of regional, faith-related, and career-related accrediting organizations. “A national advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation, CHEA is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations.”1
Steps along the recognition process included the following:
- Submission of the CHEA Application for Eligibility and Recognition Review. The CHEA Committee on Recognition reviewed the application and confirmed that NAACLS meets the eligibility requirements.
- Submission of a Self-Study. The Self-Study included a brief history of NAACLS and its scope of recognition, mission, vision and documentation of compliance with CHEA’s 2010 Recognition Standards. If this sounds familiar, it is because programs applying for accreditation or approval by NAACLS are required to submit a self-study that documents compliance with NAACLS Standards.
- Observation by a CHEA-selected volunteer. The volunteer observed the deliberations of the NAACLS Review Committee on Accredited Programs (RCAP) in 2012. The observer is charged with fact-gathering and submitting a report to the CHEA Committee on Recognition (COR). The content of the report is structured to address the CHEA Recognition Standards. This step has similarities with NAACLS’ site visit process during which volunteers, selected by NAACLS staff members, visit programs and conduct fact-gathering and report preparation designed to ascertain compliance with NAACLS Standards.
- NAACLS responds in writing to the CHEA observer’s report. The Self-Study, observer’s report, and NAACLS’ response to the observer’s report are forwarded to the CHEA COR for review.
- NAACLS’ President and Chief Executive Officer appear in person at a meeting of the CHEA COR. At the meeting, the President and CEOrespond to questions,clarify statements and discuss future directions of the accrediting organization. There is no equivalent to this step in NAACLS’ accreditation or approval processes.
- The CHEA COR reviews the submitted materials and presentation and makes a recommendation regarding recognition to the CHEA Board of Directors. Similarly, NAACLS’ RCAP or Program Approval Review Committee (PARC) forward recommendations regarding accreditation or approval awards to the NAACLS Board of Directors.
- The CHEA Board of Directors determines whether to award, defer, or deny recognition of the applicant organization. This is similar to the NAACLS Accreditation/Approval process, for which the NAACLS Board of Directors is the decision-making body,
Of particular interest to the CHEA COR during the recognition review of NAACLS was the implementation of accreditation standards that require programs routinely to provide reliable information to the public on program performance, including student achievement. Further, the CHEA COR has interest in how NAACLS monitors the information provided by its programs to the public. Provision of student achievement information by programs to the public and monitoring compliance with that requirement continues to be an area of continuing improvement for NAACLS.
Finally, on April 29-30, 2013, the Council for Higher Education Authority (CHEA) granted NAACLS continuing recognition, an award that NAACLS is pleased to share with you. This award reaffirms NAACLS’ mission in being the premier international agency for accreditation and approval of educational programs in the clinical laboratory sciences and related health professions through the involvement of expert volunteers and its dedication to public service.
1 About CHEA; “CHEA at a glance”(pdf), accessed 6-5-2013 at www.chea.org