February 15, 2017. Since they were first adopted in 2002, NACEP's National Concurrent Enrollment Partnership Standards have prompted many institutions to adopt effective practices of academic oversight and program management. As the only set of national standards of excellence for concurrent enrollment, they have been recognized by many professional associations, regional accreditors, state agencies, legislators, and media outlets as the benchmark of quality for the field.
Over the past 15 months the nine-member NACEP Accreditation Commission has listened to our members and worked diligently to prepare draft revisions to the existing Accreditation Standards, last updated in 2009. The Commission seeks to update them based on its accreditation review experience in the intervening years, to keep them relevant, and to continue NACEP's leadership of the field by promoting effective practices.
The Commission is seeking feedback on this Public Discussion Draft by close of business Wednesday March 22. Input should be provided online or via email to NACEP Director of Accreditation and Member Services Jennie Patteson <email@example.com>. You are also welcome to share your thoughts verbally during public feedback sessions scheduled for February 27, March 2, March 7, and March 16. Details are available online.
At its April meeting, the Commission will consider all feedback received by March 22. Following the April meeting, the Commission will submit proposed Standards changes for a vote by the designated representatives of all NACEP-accredited programs.
If the Standards pass, we will immediately begin our transition year in 2017-18. The Commission will update training materials, train peer reviewers and hold training sessions both in person and online for programs on how to meet the new standards. The standards will be effective for the 2018-19 school year.
Please note that these Standards are specifically for concurrent enrollment: college credit-bearing courses taught to high school students by college-approved high school teachers. While NACEP's 2017-19 Strategic Plan commits the organization to expanding its scope to other dual enrollment models; no decision has yet been made whether to extend the Standards or accreditation services to other models.
To aid you in your review, the Commission has prepared draft definitions of four key terms that appear in the Standards: faculty liaison, academic leadership, learning resources, and student services.
The Commission strives to align its standards and accreditation process with best practices in the accreditation field, and has been guided in its work by the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors' Code of Good Practice and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's Recognition Standards. Both identify principles for accreditation standards that advance academic quality, emphasize student achievement, encourage programs to demonstrate accountability, and provide appropriate autonomy consistent with institutional missions.
The Commission's specific goals in proposing these new and revised standards include:
Central to NACEP's vision is that concurrent enrollment should be supported by deep and meaningful partnerships, both internally within higher education institutions and with partner high schools and school districts. Accreditation applications have historically provided some evidence of this within the Program Description and the stakeholder surveys required under the current Program Evaluation Standard 4. By proposing new standards addressing partnerships, the Commission seeks to elevate the importance of strong internal and external support for the concurrent enrollment partnership.
Campus faculty engagement and collaboration with concurrent enrollment instructors is a critical, defining feature that sets concurrent enrollment apart from other accelerated coursework models. The Commission worked to improve upon the current NACEP standards by strengthening the language for more clear and concise readings and interpretations of the standards and to align the wording of the standards with their intent.
Many who commented during the Commission's dialogue with membership over the past year noted that the three current assessment standards are overlapping and have confusing terminology. Paired syllabi have been the primary evidence provided; yet the Commission has found that these rarely provide sufficient evidence to gauge the effectiveness of a program's methods of aligning assessments. The Commission's proposed new single Assessment standard would strengthen the emphasis on effective assessment alignment processes to ensure student proficiency is measured on defined learning outcomes, and shifts syllabi review and alignment to the Curriculum standards.
The Commission worked to improve the Curriculum Standards by emphasizing the process by which the outcomes are achieved, including classroom observations and emphasizing that curricular decisions are made by campus academic leadership, including faculty, department chairs, and academic deans.
In reviewing the Student Standards, the Commission sought standards that better address those components of programs that are critical to student success. Two standards were re-written to emphasize the intent of those standards, and a fourth to better align with expectations of regional accreditors and to emphasize the need for programs to provide access to the resources and assistance necessary for students to succeed in their courses.
Many commenters reported to the Commission that the current alumni surveys are difficult and time consuming to administer and frequently have very low return rates that provide results that are not always meaningful for program improvement. The Commission's proposed new Program Evaluation 2 emphasizes the importance of conducting regular evaluation studies that inform program improvement, but would provide greater flexibility to programs in the research methods used to conduct such studies.