By Dianne M. Cearlock, PhD, MT
In the fall of 2015, NAACLS disseminated the Annual Survey of Programs to accredited and approved programs. With the 2012 Standards, NAACLS shifted from a largely input-based focus to one that features student and program outcomes as a means of evaluating educational quality. In keeping with this focus, a number of changes in policies were implemented including the establishment of benchmarks for several outcomes measures and the requirement that all programs post outcomes data for certification exam pass rates, graduation rates, and placement rates in a location that is easily accessible by the public. All accredited and approved programs are required by NAACLS Standards to complete and submit the Annual Survey of Programs each year, and this survey collects outcomes and other data that are then analyzed collectively for trends and useful “snapshots” of the quality of NAACLS’ programs.
Numbers of 2015 Accredited and Approved Programs: 621
From 2008 through 2015, NAACLS has experienced a modest but steady growth in the total number of programs from 542 in 2008 to 621 in 2015. With the exception of CG programs, all programs types have increased in number, some substantially, from 2008 through 2015.
Of the 621 total programs that received the survey, 613 submitted completed surveys. (Several programs did not respond because initial accreditation or approval was not yet complete or because of pending closure.) Of these, 541 were accredited programs (228 MLS, 246 MLT, 36 HT, 11 PathA, 8 HTL, 8 DMS and 4 CG) and 72 were approved programs (65 PBT, 7CA).
Outcomes measures findings:
The NAACLS’ benchmarks are based on rolling 3-year averages for certification exam pass rates, graduation and placement rates. For the analysis of outcome measures, NAACLS compiled the data from 558 programs that were accredited or approved for three or more years at the time of survey dissemination. Included were 484 accredited programs (213 MLS, 219 MLT, 35 HT, 10 PathA, 6 HTL, 7 DMS and 4 CG) and 64 approved programs (58 PBT, 6 CA).
Certification Pass Rates (BOC for accredited programs, BOC/AMT/NCCT for PBT&CA programs)
Of the 558 programs that were accredited or approved for three or more years at the time of survey dissemination, 552 were eligible for review (The six CA programs were not eligible because there was no CA exam). The total average of programs’ three-year certification pass rate percentages for the 552 programs eligible for benchmark review was 88% (For all 613 programs, the average was 86%.) Seventy-nine (79) programs (14% of eligible-review programs) did not meet certification rate benchmarks and were sent action plan notices. Of those that did not meet benchmarks were 20 MLS, 41 MLT, 10 PBT, 5 HT, 2 DMS, and 1 HTL.
The total average of programs’ three-year graduation rate percentages for 558 programs eligible for benchmark review was 95% (For all 613 programs, the average was 94%.) Two (2) programs of 558 programs eligible for benchmark review (0.4%) did not meet graduation rate benchmarks and were sent action plan notices. The programs that did not meet benchmarks were MLT programs.
The total average of programs’ three-year placement percentages rate of 558 programs eligible for benchmark review was 94% (For all 613 programs, the average was 95%.) Fifteen (15) programs of 558 programs eligible for benchmark review (2.7%) did not meet placement rate benchmarks and were sent action plan notices. Programs that did not meet benchmarks included 8 PBT, 4 MLT, 1 MLS, 1 HT, and 1 DMS.
|NAACLS Programs’ 3-Year Benchmark Average Rates|
|Certification Pass Rate %
(Benchmark = 75)
|Graduation Rate %
(Benchmark = 70%)
|Placement Rate %
(Benchmark = 70%)
Summary of benchmark outcomes
In total, 88 programs were sent action plan notices of which 8 programs fell below more than one benchmark. This number reflects 15.8% of all review-eligible programs and 14.4% of all total surveyed programs. While the number of programs receiving action plan notices may seem higher than one might expect, it is important to note that this was the first survey done which resulted in action plan requests, such that all programs that were below benchmarks received action plans notices at one time. Some of these programs may still be below benchmark for the next survey, but will not receive a new action plan notice during the period that the program is given to develop and implement the requested action plan addressing the concern. However, programs that were below one benchmark this past year and fall below a different benchmark next year will have to submit an additional action plan to address the new concern.