Accreditation Standards

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Accreditation Standards

These standards for accreditation of all education and training institutions and organizations have been approved by the membership of ECHEA. The ECHEA standards are interpreted and, thereby, operationalized through policies and procedures adopted by the Accrediting Commission under the General Service Regulation and, as such, are to be referenced in conjunction with these standards in evaluating the accreditability of institutions/organizations. ECHEA standards serve a number of functions, including:

  • The representation of good practice against which education and training institutions and programs can be evaluated and improved.
  • The guidance to evaluation teams in conducting online/on-site reviews.
  • The basis upon which the Accrediting Commission reviews relevant reports and documentation for an institution/organization’s accreditation status and promulgate such policies and procedures as they determine necessary for a more focused interpretation.
  • To enable governmental agencies, employers, participants, and the general public to know the criteria by which an accredited institution or program has been evaluated.

Mission, Goals, and Planning:

The institution has a mission that is compatible with the ECHEA mission, scope, and standards.

  • Mission: The institution clearly states its mission and makes it public. The mission is consistent with the Principles of Ethics for ECHEA institutions; thereby providing a definitive basis upon which to deliver and assess the education and training programs. The education and training provided are consistent with the institution’s mission and are documented by either a needs assessment or market experience.
  • Goals: Broad institutional goals are clearly stated, support the mission, and are understood at all levels of the organization.
  • Planning: The institution has sound, written one-year and longer-range plans that encompass both the educational and business objectives of the institution. The plans support the mission, facilitate the accomplishment of the broad institutional goals, and are updated at least annually. The plans include specific and measurable objectives, with corresponding operational strategies, projected time frames, required resources, and methods for subsequent evaluation of each objective.

Governance and Management:

The institution is capably and responsibly managed.

  • Governance: The institution has a governing board and/or senior management team that is responsible for developing and maintaining an effective framework of written strategies and policies. This management structure ensures the integrity and effectiveness of the institution and its compliance with statutory, regulatory, and accreditation requirements.
  • Operational Management: Operational management is responsible for systematically and effectively implementing the strategies and policies of senior management within an organizational framework that is clearly defined, understood, and effective. Written policies and procedures guide the day-to-day operations of the institution.
  • Personnel Management: Management develops, implements, and maintains written policies and procedures for the systematic and effective recruitment, selection, hiring, and retention of all personnel. Management provides orientation, supervision, evaluation, and training and development of its employees to ensure that qualified and capable personnel, at appropriate staffing levels, are effectively utilized.
  • Records: The institution has an organized record-keeping system that ensures all records are maintained in an accurate, orderly, and up-to-date manner. The record-keeping system facilitates ready access and review of those records by appropriate parties. All records are protected from unauthorized access and undue risk of loss. Employees and students have appropriate access to the information contained in their files. Records are maintained for a period of time consistent with applicable statutes, regulations, and sound business and educational practices.
  • Communications: Management ensures regular and effective communication among appropriate members of the institution on pertinent aspects of its operations, including the delivery of quality education and training services. To maintain operational effectiveness, periodic meetings with employees are conducted and appropriate documentation is maintained on significant issues, consistent with the size and purpose of the institution.
  • Professional Relationships: The institution establishes relationships with other organizations within the education/training and employer/industry network. These relationships are maintained, utilized, and documented for the purpose of enhancing the quality of the education, training, and student services.

Financial Capacity and Responsibility:

The institution is fiscally sound and demonstrates ethical financial practices.

  • Stability: The institution demonstrates a record of responsible financial management with resources sufficient to provide quality education, training, and student services and to complete the instruction of all enrolled participants. Financial reports provide clear evidence of financial stability and sound fiscal practices.
  • Financial Procedures: The institution assesses its finances at adequate intervals, not less than quarterly. Written policies and procedures exist for proper financial controls and supervision of financial management staff. Tuition charges are applied fairly and consistently; receipt of tuition payments and other monies is properly recorded and tracked. Cancellation and refund policies are written, fair, and equitable; are consistently administered; and comply with statutory, regulatory, and accreditation requirements. Qualified and capable individuals manage and evaluate the effectiveness of the financial operations and practices.
  • Financial Assistance / Scholarships: Institutions administering any student assistance programs, including all financial aid programs as well as scholarships, ensure that these programs are responsibly managed, governed by written policies and procedures, and in full compliance with relevant statutes and regulations. All student financial assistance is awarded in a fair and equitable manner.

Curriculum Design and Development:

The institution’s curricular design, materials, and outcomes measurements follow sound educational practices.

  • Educational Goals and Objectives: The institution’s programs and courses have appropriate educational goals and objectives. The curricular content and learning experiences are preplanned and present a sound, systematic, and sequential educational methodology. Sufficient and appropriate knowledge and skill elements are included to ensure adequate preparation for the expected performance outcomes in the specific program or course for which the students enroll.
  • Program / Instructional Materials: Program materials, including syllabi, lesson plans, instructional guides, and texts demonstrate the appropriate scope, sequence, and depth of each program or course in relation to the stated goals and objectives. Instructional materials, including supplementary textbooks, software, learning activities, visual aids, electronic links, and other teaching tools support the goals and objectives. All materials are up-to-date, readily available, and facilitate positive learning outcomes.
  • Performance Measurements: Performance measurements are written and are periodically evaluated and updated to ensure instructional effectiveness. The institution has a sound, written assessment system that contains a set of defined elements, such as grading scale, weighting factors, tests, quizzes, reports, projects, attendance, and participation, that are appropriately related to the performance objectives of the program or course.
  • Curriculum Review / Revision: The institution uses systematic and effective procedures to continuously monitor and improve the curriculum. The written procedures include soliciting feedback from relevant constituencies, such as faculty, students, graduates, employers, and advisory / certification boards, as well as analysis of completion, and, if applicable, placement results. The procedures focus on a comprehensive review of the curriculum as it relates to the expected learning outcomes.
  • Certification and Licensing: When the purpose of instruction is to prepare students to meet the standards for licensing, certification, registration, or examination requirements, the curriculum includes appropriate preparation and materials to meet the requirements for such credentials. The institution records and tracks the pass rates of graduates and uses the results to measure and improve the quality of the educational programs offered.

Instructional Delivery and Resources:

The institution utilizes appropriate and effective instructional methods and other resources to ensure sound instructional delivery.

  • Instructional Methods: Instructional methods encourage active and motivated responses from participants. Written policies and procedures are in place to ensure that the curricula are followed and that there is a consistency of application by all instructional staff. The instructional methodology is consistent with current training industry standards and appropriate to the educational goals and curricular objectives, facilitates learning, and serves the individual learning needs and objectives of participants. Instructional methods provide encouragement, motivation, challenges, and learning opportunities for all participants, taking into account different backgrounds, learning abilities and styles, and prior levels of achievement.
  • Externships / Internships: When required as a part of a program, an externship/internship or other training-related work experience is based on a preplanned outline of the specific knowledge, skills, and experience to be acquired. Written policies and procedures for the supervision and evaluation of externships/internships are established and followed by the institution to ensure consistency and effectiveness. The institution provides a sufficient number of sites to ensure appropriate and timely learning experiences in its externship/internship program.
  • Equipment, Supplies, and Learning Resources: Adequate, appropriate, and functional equipment, supplies, furnishings, and learning resources required to effectively provide the education and training services are readily available for instructor and participant use.
  • Facilities: The facility is appropriate for the education, training, and student services offered. Instruction is conducted in a safe, accessible, sanitary, and comfortable environment, which is free from distraction. The facility meets all applicable local, state, and government requirements.

Qualifications and Supervision of Instructional Personnel:

The institution ensures that qualified instructors, under professional and capable direction, effectively deliver educational and training services.

  • Qualifications of Instructional Personnel: Instructional personnel possess the appropriate combination of educational credential(s), specialized training and/or certification, work experience, and demonstrated teaching and classroom management skills, which qualify them for their training assignments. Instructional personnel meets all relevant accreditation, government, state, local, and/or industry-specific requirements.
  • Supervision of Instruction: Individuals with relevant education and experience in instructional delivery and management supervise instructional personnel. Supervisors of instructional personnel demonstrate good practice in the evaluation and direction of instructors. Regular classroom observations, along with student, peer, and supervisory feedback are documented and effectively utilized to enhance the quality of instruction.
  • Instructor Orientation and Training: The institution develops and implements a written policy for the effective orientation and training of instructional personnel to ensure a consistent, high level of instruction. The institution also develops and implements an effective written policy for the ongoing professional development of instructional personnel that is systematically implemented, monitored, and documented.

Admissions and Student Services:

The institution recruits and enrolls only qualified participants who can reasonably be expected to benefit from the education and training services and provides student services appropriate to their needs.

  • Recruitment: Informational and promotional materials, advertising, and representations made by or on behalf of the institution for recruiting purposes make only justifiable and provable claims regarding the courses, programs, costs, location, instructional personnel, student services, outcomes, and other benefits. All communication with prospective students is ethical and honest. The institution does not state or imply that employment, occupational advancement, and/or certification and licensing are guaranteed.
  • Enrollment: The institution’s written policy for enrollment is clearly stated, defined, and in compliance with statutory, regulatory, and accreditation requirements. Reliable and regular means are utilized to ensure that, prior to acceptance, all applicants are able and qualified to benefit from the education and training services. The enrollment process is preplanned, effective, and regularly monitored by the institution to ensure its integrity. The institution provides in its written enrollment agreement or contract full disclosure of the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of all parties, including all costs stated in clear and explicit language, and cancellation and refund policies that comply with statutory, regulatory, and accreditation requirements. The enrollment agreement or contract is furnished to appropriate parties before any payment or obligation is made.
  • Transfer of Credit: An educational institute or vocational institution has written policies and procedures that ensure the fair and equitable treatment of students relative to the transfer of credit to and from the institution. The institution provides clear, complete, factual, and timely information regarding its transfer policies and practices. All institutions making statements relative to the acceptance of their program for credit by another institution have documented evidence to support such statements.
  • Student Services: Student services, consistent with the mission and learning objectives of the institution, are provided, such as academic advising, tutoring, placement assistance, extracurricular activities, and housing, as applicable.

Student Assessment and Achievement:

The institution utilizes appropriate and educationally sound methods to assess student performance, attendance, and achievement.

  • Student Progress: The institution effectively monitors, assesses, and records the progress of participants utilizing a sound assessment system with a set of defined elements that are appropriately related to the performance objectives of the programs or courses. Semester credits, quarter credits, clock hours, and/or education units are used to denote the successful completion of the education and training services. Student progress is documented consistently in accordance with institutionally established performance outcomes and is communicated to all participants. Participants are informed of their progress on a regular and timely basis. Institutions publish clear descriptions of their requirements for satisfactory student progress and utilize sound written policies and procedures to determine student compliance with these requirements and to document the results.
  • Attendance: The institution establishes and implements written policies and procedures for monitoring and documenting attendance. The attendance policy is effective in ensuring that student participation and preparation are consistent with the expected performance outcomes of the course or program.

Institutional Effectiveness:

The institution utilizes appropriate methods of evaluation to assess institutional effectiveness and to ensure that student outcomes are consistent with the institution’s mission and the benchmarks established by the Accrediting Commission.

  • Participant Satisfaction: Open lines of communication with participants exist and demonstrate responsiveness to student issues. Written policies and procedures are followed that provide an effective means to regularly assess, document, and validate student satisfaction relative to the quality of education and training offered, as well as the student services provided. Interim evaluations and a final evaluation upon completion of the term of enrollment are specified components of determining participant satisfaction.
  • Employer / Sponsor Satisfaction: Written policies and procedures are followed that provide an effective means to regularly assess, document, and validate employer/sponsor satisfaction relative to the quality of the education and training services provided.
  • Completion and Placement: Written policies and procedures are followed that provide an effective means to regularly assess, document, and validate the quality of the education and training services provided relative to completion and placement rates, as applicable.
  • Completion: The number of participants who complete the programs and courses in which they enroll is consistent with the benchmarks established by the Accrediting Commission.
  • Placement: Institutions offering vocational programs provide job placement assistance to graduates and document the results to enhance the effectiveness of the training services provided. The quality of such programs is validated by positive training-related outcomes consistent with the benchmarks established by the Accrediting Commission.