To be eligible for ACICS recognition the organization:

  • demonstrates that the organization・s mission and scope are consistent with the ACICS institutional eligibility and recognition policy, including that a majority of the institutions and programs accredited by the organization grant higher accreditation standards. The policy provides, in part, that the recognition process will place increasing emphasis on the effectiveness of accrediting organizations in assuring accreditation quality of institutions or programs;
  • is non-governmental;
  • accredits institutions that have legal authority to confer accreditation certificates;
  • accredits institutions or programs at generally accepted accreditation levels;
  • has written procedures that describe, officially and publicly:
    • the organization・s decision-making processes, policies, and procedures that lead to accreditation actions
    • the scope of accreditation that may be granted, evaluative criteria (standards or characteristics) used, and levels of accreditation status conferred;
  • has procedures that include a self-evaluation by the institution or program or has alternative processes that ACICS considers to be valid;
  • demonstrates independence from sponsoring entity, for the conduct of accreditation activities and determination of accreditation status
  • is operational, with more than one completed accreditation review, including action by the accreditation decision-making body at each higher level, or for each type of program, identified in the statement of proposed recognized scope of accreditation.

 

Scope of Recognition

As part of eligibility and recognition reviews, applicants for recognition will supply information to enable ACICS to determine whether recognition is warranted and what the recognized scope of accreditation will be, including:

  • a clear statement of proposed scope of accreditation activity;
  • a clear statement of the accrediting organization・s purposes and why those purposes are in the public interest; and
  • a description of the accrediting organization and its activities; the quality, pertinence, and value of those activities; and the ways in which those activities serve the public interest.

 

When providing this information, applicants demonstrate that:

  1. the statement of proposed scope addresses the types of institutions, the programs to be reviewed, and the geographic boundaries of accreditation activity if any;
  2. the statement of proposed scope is consistent with organizational mission statements, charters, bylaws, candidacy requirements, and other requirements for accreditation and affiliation; and
  3. the accrediting organization has had consultation with appropriate constituencies.

 

Change of Recognized Scope of Accreditation

The ACICS Committee on Recognition will review requests for change of recognized scope of accreditation that occur outside of the regular recognition review. An accrediting organization:

  • notifies the Committee of its intent, including a rationale, the authorization from the accreditation decision-making body, and a time frame for conducting reviews
  • conducts pilot reviews to demonstrate capacity to carry out accreditation reviews under the new recognized scope of accreditation; and
  • submits a formal request for change of recognized scope of accreditation

 

Recognition Standards

The following standards are applied to accrediting organizations seeking ACICS recognition:

  • advances theoretical quality;
  • demonstrates accountability;
  • encourages, where appropriate, self-scrutiny and planning for change and for needed improvement;
  • employs appropriate and fair procedures in decision making;
  • demonstrates ongoing review of accreditation practices; and
  • possesses sufficient resources.

 

Advances Theoretical Quality

Advancing theoretical quality is at the core of voluntary accreditation. :Theoretical quality; refers to results associated with research, and service within the framework of institutional mission. To be recognized, the accrediting organization provides evidence that it has:

  • a clear description of theoretical quality in the context of institutional or program mission;
  • standards or policies that the institutions or programs will have processes to determine whether quality standards are being met;
  • standards or policies that include expectations of institutional or program quality, including organization achievement, consistent with mission;
  • standards or policies that focus on theoretical quality while respecting the institution・s responsibility to set priorities and to control how the institution or program is structured and operates, and that incorporate an awareness of how programs function within the broader purposes of the institution; and
  • standards or policies designed to foster desired or needed organization achievement and that refer to resources only to the extent required to emerge from institutions or programs appropriately prepared, or to address health and safety in the delivery of programs.

 

Demonstrates Accountability

The accrediting organization demonstrates public accountability in two ways. It has standards that call for institutions to provide consistent information about theoretical quality, organization achievement and thus to foster continuing public awareness, confidence, and investment. Second, the accrediting organization itself demonstrates public involvement in its accreditation activities for the purpose of obtaining perspectives independent of the accrediting organization. Representatives of the public may include persons from businesses and the professions, elected and appointed officials, and others. To be recognized, the accrediting organization provides evidence that it has implemented:

  • accreditation standards or policies that require institutions or programs routinely to provide reliable information to the public on their performance, including organization achievement as determined by the institution or program;
  • accreditation standards or policies that focus only on the institutions or programs seeking accreditation and do not extend to other offerings;
  • accreditation standards or policies that require institutions to distinguish accurately between programs that have achieved accredited status and those that have not;
  • policies and procedures that include representatives of the public in decision making and policy setting;
  • policies or procedures, as developed by the accrediting organization through appropriate consultation with institutions or programs, to inform the public of decisions on accreditation status;
  • policies or procedures that call for substantive and timely response to legitimate public concerns and complaints;
  • policies or procedures that call for appropriate consultation regarding, and resolution of conflicts between, accreditation standards and state or local laws governing the institution or program seeking accreditation; and
  • standards, policies, or procedures that, when the accrediting organization engages in international activities, assure reasonable efforts to communicate and consult with appropriate governmental and nongovernmental accreditation or quality assurance entities in other countries.

 

Encourages, where appropriate, self-scrutiny and planning for change and for needed improvement:

The accrediting organization encourages, where appropriate, ongoing self-examination and planning for change, such self-scrutiny and planning entail thoughtful assessment of quality in the context of the institution・s mission. Encouragement of such self-scrutiny and planning should not be confused with solely a demand for additional resources, but rather should enable institutions and programs to focus on effective ways to achieve their institution and program goals. Such self-scrutiny and planning are means to enhance the usefulness of accreditation to institutions and programs. To be recognized, the accrediting organization provides evidence that it has implemented standards or policies that:

  • stress self-examination and self-analysis by institutions or programs for planning, where appropriate, for change and for needed improvement, in the context of institutional mission;
  • enable institutions and programs to be creative and diverse in determining how to organize themselves structurally, how best to use their resources, and what personnel and other policies and procedures are needed to attain their organization achievement goals;
  • encourage institutions or programs to innovate or experiment; and
  • require the accrediting organization to distinguish clearly between actions necessary for accreditation and actions that are considerations for improvement.

 

Employs Appropriate and Fair Procedures in Decision Making

The accrediting organization maintains appropriate and fair policies and procedures that include effective checks and balances. The accreditation process includes ongoing participation by professionals and the public in decision making about accreditation policies and procedures. To be recognized, the accrediting organization provides evidence that it has implemented standards, policies, or procedures that:

  • require participation by professionals and the public;
  • foster reasonable consistency in reviews of institutions or programs while respecting varying institution or program purposes and mission;
  • assure that the process to deny or remove accreditation is specified and fair, and
  • inform the institution or program about the process to be used and actions that may be taken; and
  • assure a specified and fair appeals process when there is an action to deny or remove accreditation; inform the institution or program about the process by which the appeal will be conducted, the grounds for appeal, and any costs associated with an appeal; and continue the current accreditation status of the institution or program until an appeal decision is rendered.

 

Demonstrates Ongoing Review of Accreditation Practices

Even as institutions and programs undertake ongoing self-scrutiny to maintain and improve quality, accrediting organizations need self-scrutiny of their accrediting practices. Such review should also include examination of the accreditor・s impact on institutions and responsiveness to the broader accreditation and community. To be recognized, the accrediting organization provides evidence that it sustains ongoing:

  • critical self-review that can further responsiveness, flexibility, and accountability when the accrediting organization works with institutions, programs, and the public;
  • initiatives that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of services to institutions or programs;
  • review of its value to the institution in its entirety and to the community; and
  • review, within its resources, of the impact of its standards and procedures on institutions or programs.

 

Possesses Sufficient Resources

Accreditors must have and maintain predictable and stable resources if they are to meet the expectations of institutions, programs, and the public. To be recognized, the accrediting organization presents evidence that it:

  • has adequate financial, staff, and operational resources to perform its accreditation functions efficiently and effectively; and
  • conducts ongoing review of its capacity to support its accreditation mission.

 

Recognition Process

Frequency of Recognition Review and Interim Reports

At a minimum, the accrediting organization will undergo a recognition review every three years. Recognized accrediting organizations will provide interim reports, normally at the end of the third years. The reports focus on major changes, e.g., governance, relationships with sponsoring entities, standards, policies or procedures, that relate to ACICS eligibility and recognition standards and that demonstrate that the organization continues to meet the standards.

Review out of Sequence

ACICS may elect to review a recognized accrediting organization out of sequence when:

  • the accrediting organization proposes to change the scope of its recognition or other fundamental aspects of its organization or accreditation activities, including major changes in governance, relationships with sponsoring entities, standards, policies, or procedures that may affect the ability of the organization to meet ACICS eligibility or recognition standards; or
  • there has been a pattern of documented concerns related to ACICS eligibility or recognition standards from institutions or programs following accreditation reviews by the accrediting organization over time, and received by ACICS, and the institutions or programs have utilized the accrediting organization・s procedures for addressing complaints; or
  • there have been documented concerns that, in its judgment, the Committee believes indicate that the organization may not be meeting one or more of the ACICS eligibility or recognition standards.

 

Withdrawal of Application

Organizations may withdraw an application for eligibility or recognition at any time in the recognition process up to consideration by the ACICS Board of Directors. If an application is withdrawn before Committee action, the Committee and the Board of Directors will be informed in executive session. If an application is withdrawn after Committee action, the withdrawal and the Committee・s action will be reported at the next public ACICS Board of Directors meeting.

Letter of Intent to

The chief executive officer of the accrediting organization will send a letter with an application fee to ACICS. ACICS staff will acknowledge the letter of intent and supply information about the recognition process, a schedule, and a copy of the ACICS Recognition Policy and Procedures. The Committee will be informed of the letter of intent.

Consideration of Eligibility

An accrediting organization seeking recognition by ACICS demonstrates to the Committee that it meets ACICS・s eligibility standards. The Committee will review an accrediting organization・s documentation and consider whether such documentation satisfies eligibility standards.

The Committee will make its recommendation to the Board of Directors as to the eligibility of an accrediting organization and will notify the accrediting organization within thirty (30) days after the recommendation. If the Committee recommends that an accrediting organization should not be considered eligible for ACICS recognition, the notice will include a statement of the reasons for that recommendation and will identify the specific eligibility standards that the accrediting organization does not meet.

If the Committee recommends that an accrediting organization should be considered eligible for ACICS recognition and the Board of Directors determines that the organization is eligible, the recognition process will proceed.

If the Committee recommends that an accrediting organization should not be considered eligible for ACICS recognition, the accrediting organization may request that the Board of Directors review the recommendation of ineligibility. The accrediting organization must submit a request for review in writing to the President of ACICS within 30 days after receipt of notice of the Committee・s recommendation. The request for review must address any alleged procedural errors in the recognition process and any alleged errors of fact or interpretation in the Committee・s recommendation and include any additional information that addresses the concerns raised by the Committee. The Committee will cease the recognition process unless, after review by the Board of Directors, the accrediting organization is determined to be eligible for ACICS recognition. The Board of Directors will review the Committee・s recommendation under the procedures described below. Before the Committee and the Board of Directors act on the accrediting organization・s application for ACICS recognition, they will confirm the accrediting organization・s continuing eligibility for ACICS recognition.

Costs

Applicant organizations will bear all fees and costs of the recognition review. These include a fee for the review, expenses, duplication, mailing, and all related costs.

Public Announcement

Upon confirmation of eligibility and payment of the review fee, ACICS will make public through ACICS publications that the accrediting organization has requested a recognition review. The notice will be sent to the accrediting organization for publication.

Self-evaluation

A self-evaluation that demonstrates that the applicant meets the standards is required for ACICS recognition. ACICS will consider a range of processes for conducting the self-evaluation and for providing expected evidence.

Third-party Comment

Third-party comment may be either oral or written and is limited to the accrediting organization・s efforts to meet the ACICS recognition standards. All third parties requesting the opportunity to make comment related to an accrediting organization・s recognition review are to notify ACICS staff and provide the names and affiliations of the persons requesting the opportunity to make third-party comment and a description of the organization(s) they represent. ACICS staff will review third-party requests for oral or written comment for completeness and applicability to eligibility and recognition standards. Third parties who wish to appear for oral comment before the ACICS Committee on
Recognition is to provide an outline of the proposed oral comment. Where in the judgment of the Committee doing so may be useful, the Committee may invite third parties to appear before the Committee. The accrediting organization will receive the outline of the proposed oral comment of third parties invited to appear. Accrediting organizations will have the opportunity to review and respond to proposed oral comment. Third parties wishing to make written comment are to provide the text of the third-party comment. After review by ACICS staff, written comment will be provided to the Committee and the accrediting organization. Accrediting organizations will have the opportunity to review and respond to written comment. Third parties are to provide an outline of their oral comment or the text of their written comment in sufficient time to provide for review by ACICS staff, review and response by the accrediting organization, and for the outline or text to be provided to the Committee.

Committee Action on Applications for Recognition

For applications for recognition, by the accrediting organization, the Committee will meet in executive session to confirm the continuing eligibility of the accrediting organization and consider the qualifications of the accrediting organization for ACICS recognition based on the record before the Committee. For applications for change of recognized scope of accreditation, the Committee will review the application materials submitted by the accrediting organization. The Committee will take one of the following actions concerning the accrediting organization:

  • recommend recognition or acceptance of change of recognized scope of accreditation of the accrediting organization;
  • recommend recognition or acceptance of change of recognized scope of accreditation of an accrediting organization with a requirement of one or more written reports to the Committee that address one or more of the ACICS recognition standards and, if pertinent, the change of ACICS recognized scope of accreditation procedures;
  • recommend deferral of action on recognition or on change of recognized scope of accreditation pending receipt and review of, and action by ACICS on, additional information from the accrediting organization. The information required will be clearly specified by the Committee and related to one or more of the ACICS recognition standards, and, if pertinent, the ACICS change of recognized scope of accreditation. The deferral will be accompanied by deadlines for receipt of information and for a response by the Committee; or
  • recommend denial of recognition or of change of recognized scope of accreditation, including reasons for the denial in accordance with applicable ACICS policy.

 

Written Notice by the Committee

The Committee will notify the accrediting organization of the Committee・s recommendation related to the actions and provide the complete text of the Committee・s recommendation, including a statement of the reasons for its recommendation. If an accrediting organization does not meet one or more of the recognition standards, the statement of reasons will identify the recognition standards that the accrediting organization does not meet and the reasons for that determination. If a change of recognized scope of accreditation is not recommended, the complete text of the Committee・s recommendation, including the reasons for the recommendation, will be provided. Any suggestions for improvement or other commentary by the Committee will be distinguished from requirements for recognition under the ACICS recognition standards. Notification to the accrediting organization will be sent within thirty (30) days following the Committee meeting.

Accrediting Organization Response

The accrediting organization will forward its written response to the ACICS office within thirty (30) days from receipt of the report. The response may:

  • address any asserted procedural errors in the recognition process;
  • address any asserted factual errors or errors of interpretation in the report; and
  • include additional information that addresses concerns raised by the Committee.

 

Review by Board of Directors

The Board of Directors will act on a recommendation of the Committee as to eligibility, recognition, or change of recognized scope of accreditation by:

  • accepting the recommendation;
  • rejecting the recommendation;
  • returning the matter to the Committee for further consideration; or
  • taking such other action as the Board of Directors deems appropriate.

 

Presumption of Regularity

In considering the eligibility, recognition, or change of recognized scope of accreditation of an accrediting organization, the Board of Directors will consider the recommendation of the Committee, the response of the accrediting organization, and the record before the Committee. The Board of Directors will presume that the factual findings of the Committee are accurate unless the accrediting organization demonstrates that a factual finding material to the Committee・s recommendation is clearly erroneous based on the record before the Committee. If the accrediting organization wishes to provide additional information concerning any factual determinations of the Committee, the Board of Directors may return the matter to the Committee for further consideration.

Actions to Accept or Defer Recommendations for Eligibility

The Board of Directors may accept or defer action on a recommendation of the Committee that an accrediting organization be deemed eligible, be recognized, or change its recognized scope of accreditation, without any further submission or appearance by the accrediting organization other than such submission or appearance as the Board may require to confirm the accrediting organization・s continuing eligibility.

Actions to Deny Eligibility

The Board of Directors will not act on a recommendation of ineligibility, or non-recognition, or denial of change of recognized scope of accreditation or reject a recommendation of eligibility, of recognition, or of change of recognized scope of accreditation before providing the accrediting organization with notice and an opportunity to appear before the Board of Directors. The appearance of an accrediting organization will include an opportunity to present its written response to the recommendation of the Committee and any supplement to that response that the accrediting organization may wish to submit. At the request of the accrediting organization and with the concurrence of the Board of Directors, the accrediting organization will be afforded the opportunity to appear in person before the Board of Directors. The accrediting organization may have legal counsel present to advise it during its appearance before the Board of Directors, but not to speak unless requested to do so by the Board of Directors.

Written Notice by the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors will notify accrediting organizations of its action on the recommendations of the Committee as to eligibility, recognition, or change of recognized scope of accreditation, within thirty (30) days after taking such action. If the Board of Directors recognizes an accrediting organization, the notice will specify the scope of the accrediting organization・s recognition (including, where indicated, the geographic area, the types of institutions or programs that the accrediting organization may accredit, and the certificates awarded by institutions accredited by the accrediting organization) and the recognition period. If the action is to deny eligibility, recognition, or change of the recognized scope of accreditation of the accrediting organization, the notice will include a statement of the reasons for that action. The statement of reasons will identify the eligibility or recognition standards that the accrediting organization does not meet, or the reasons that the change of recognized scope of accreditation is not accepted.

Reconsideration by the Board of Directors

Within thirty (30) days following the action taken by the Board of Directors on a recommendation by the Committee, the accrediting organization may request, in writing, reconsideration by the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors will determine in its discretion whether reconsideration is warranted, and ordinarily will not reconsider a matter unless, in its judgment, the accrediting organization has demonstrated substantial reason to believe that there was plain and material error in the review, abuse of process, or both. In the event the Board of Directors reconsiders an action, the accrediting organization will be invited to submit a written statement of its position and will be afforded the opportunity to appear, and may have legal counsel present to advise it, but not to speak unless requested to do so by the Board of Directors.

Public Notice

All decisions of the Board of Directors to recognize, not recognize, or defer recognition of an accrediting organization, including initial and continued recognition of accrediting organizations and change of recognized scope of accreditation, will be public information. ACICS will publish the action of the Board of Directors, including a summary of the reasons for these decisions.

Withdrawal of Recognition

ACICS may withdraw recognition of an accrediting organization for sufficient cause, including a determination by ACICS that the accrediting organization no longer meets the requirements for eligibility or the standards for recognition. ACICS will withdraw recognition in accordance with procedures deemed sufficient by ACICS to afford the accrediting organization appropriate notice and opportunity to respond.