THE ACCREDITATION PROCESS:
In the CAAHEP system, the work of accreditation in each education program (such as yours) is managed by a Committee on Accreditation (or CoA). The name for kinesiotherapy is CoA-KT and our two sponsoring organizations are the American Kinesiotherapy Association (AKTA) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) who give input into our Standards and Guidelines which outline our Kinesiotherapy Programs.
CoA’s work within a system of Standards and within a framework of policies established by the CAAHEP Board of Directors. CoAs devise their own detailed procedures for conducting the accreditation process, and it’s the CoA-KT that will oversee your program. Eventually, when it is time for an accreditation status to be determined, the CoA will make a recommendation to CAAHEP which will determine your accreditation.
SELF-STUDY AND SITE VISIT
Since accreditation is an ongoing process, every few years you will experience two large activities that will stand out for you as the most important, most valuable, most time-consuming and (if you do them well) most rewarding activities: The Self Study and the Site Visit.
A self-study has two parts:
1. Studying your own program, in a systematic way.
2. Writing a report about your program for your CoA to review.
Conducting a site visit has two parts:
1. Preparing for the visit.
2. Conducting the visit.
To do these activities as smoothly as possible, you must know and follow the procedures outlined by your CoA. Your Accreditation Mentor (YAM) on the CAAHEP website offers some tips that apply to almost any self-study or site visit. Some of these tips may save you time, money, effort, and grief.
The most valuable aspect of the self-study is that you (and your colleagues, employees, advisors, etc.) are enabled by the process to look carefully at your program from perspectives that differ from what you experience day-to-day. You are going to review the sum of the past several years along with your plans for coming years, and think about your program and its future from many perspectives including perspectives of your students, employers of your graduates, standards established within your profession for educational programs, and the needs of society. You are going to look at results and ask of yourself what is going well and not-so-well, and what needs to change.
Writing the self-study report assures that you are articulate about your program and your plans. A well-written report all but assures a useful and valuable site visit because a major goal of the visitors will be to assure the CoA that your report about your program is accurate and that your improvement plans are sensible.
When the site visiting team reads your self-study report, they are looking for assurances that Standards are met by your program, and that where the program falls short, you are prepared to make corrections. Don’t pad the report with extraneous information; provide what’s asked for, be succinct and to the point. And truthful.
The most valuable aspect of the site visit — besides the obvious that the team is able to say to the CoA and ultimately through the CoA to CAAHEP that they find your program is as your self study describes it and is worthy of accreditation — is the collegial aspect. The people coming to visit, carefully selected by the CoA, are themselves knowledgeable professionals. They, like you, will be following procedures required by the CoA to assure completeness and fairness of their work. [You can learn a good deal about this from the Site Visitor Quiz on the CAAHEP website, which is a training tool for site visitors that is well worth an hour of your time.] You will have ample opportunity to learn from your visitors, so take advantage of your dialogue with them, and of the informal moments that arise, to gain some new ideas, contacts, professional perspectives or other knowledge that may help your program.