Executive Director Update - February 2010


Effective Accreditation for Scalable Enterprises

The Council reviewed proposed changes to dozens of standards and bylaws at it February Policy meeting, focusing two full days of analysis and deliberation on making ACICS criteria better aligned with multi-campus systems that serve hundreds of thousands of students. The policy conference culminated a months-long project reflecting the evolution of workforce education as a wide array of organizational structures and architectures.

Proposed changes are aligned with a model of career education delivery that is based on a consolidated center of administrative and academic control that develops and enforces prototypical delivery models, instructional programs and learning processes over a diverse geography.

Up until now,  ACICS accreditation has primarily focused on the evaluation of individual campuses, as though they were stand-alone educational enterprises. The proposed new standards reflect more flexible regulations established by the U.S. Department of Education in recognition of the growing phenomenon of the distributed educational enterprise. 

Member institutions will have a chance to review and comment on the proposed enhancements to criteria through correspondence in March; the full Council will evaluate member suggestions and apply them to the formal adoption of new standards and practices at the regular April meeting. Once adopted, the new criteria will be available for distributed enterprises as early as January 2011.

Pending Rules for Incentive Compensation, Gainful Employment

Federal, consumer and sector-based negotiators, including representatives for national accreditation agencies, failed to reach consensus on key issues impacting career education during the last round of negotiated rulemaking in Washington, D.C. 

Significant issues that defied consensus were incentive compensation for admissions reps and gainful employment by graduates, both of which are addressed through standards in the ACICS Criteria. For example, one section specifically requires institutions to refrain from recruitment practices that are unethical or that capture students who are ill-prepared for post-secondary education. The standards also require the institution to be aware the U.S. Department of Education’s regulations regarding recruitment practices, as well as applicable state laws.

Regarding gainful employment, ACICS Criteria requires follow-up studies on graduates and employer satisfaction following placement, and that institutions that use placement percentages or salary projections as part of their recruiting activities maintain data on all graduates, including the percentage receiving jobs and the percentage receiving jobs in the career field for which they were trained. The standards also reiterate the requirements for the annual institutional report, including retention and placement rates, and that institutional attention to student completion and placement are integral to institutional effectiveness plans that are reviewed and evaluated by ACICS.

Unfortunately, the negotiated rulemaking forum devalued the fact that schools who do not meet standards of retention and placement outcomes can lose accreditation. ACICS will work with the Department during the notice of proposed rulemaking to reiterate the effectiveness of existing standards, evaluations and reviews that have an impact on the ability of graduates to repay student loans.

It is anticipated that the Department will published proposed regulations on gainful employment and incentive compensation in the spring, and solicit public comment in early summer. Final regulations may be published by Nov. 1, to become effective July 1, 2011.

Leadership Conference 2010: Join Us at The Palazzo

The 2010 ACICS Leadership Conference and Annual Meeting, June 8th & 9th in Las Vegas, will highlight some of the outstanding institutions in the career college sector, as well some of the peer evaluators who preserve high levels of quality and integrity through their service as accreditation professionals. The two-day conference will also feature workshops on accreditation and evaluator training, as well as guest speakers and discussion forums that focus on issues of current relevance to the dynamic career education sector. Look for registration and program details soon on the ACICS website.

Workshops, Webinars Go On Road

To better meet the needs of ACICS Institutions preparing for their next round of accreditation review, a robust schedule of workshops at different locations throughout the country has been established. In the near future:

Accreditation Workshops are scheduled for April 30 in Chicago, IL, and June 8 in Las Vegas, NV. 
 Adding Value: Retention and & Placement Workshop is scheduled on Monday March 1 in Washington D.C.
 workshop for institutions with deferrals is scheduled on June 3 in Washington D.C.
Webinars to train peer evaluators will be on-line March 26 and May 28.
Evaluator training consists of three taped webinars and one live webinar session. The final live sessions are by invitation only and are scheduled for the last Friday of every other month beginning in January. 

An Evaluator workshop is scheduled for June 8, in Las Vegas, NV.
Visit for details about these professional development opportunities.