Accreditation and State Liason (ASL) E-Recognition Web Site US Department of Education, Promoting educational excellence for all Americans.
Skip to main content | Home | OPE Home | ASL Home | NACIQI | NCFMEA | User Guide

Back

U.S. Department of Education

Staff Report
to the
Senior Department Official
on
Recognition Compliance Issues

RECOMMENDATION PAGE

1.
Agency:   American Psychological Association (1970/2016)
                  (The dates provided are the date of initial listing as a recognized agency and the date of the agency’s last grant of recognition.)
 
2.
Action Item:   Request for an expansion of the scope of recognition
 
3.
Current Scope of Recognition:   The accreditation in the United States of doctoral programs in clinical, counseling, school and combined professional-scientific psychology; doctoral internship programs in health service psychology; and postdoctoral residency programs in health service psychology; and the preaccreditation in the United States of doctoral internship programs in health service psychology; and postdoctoral residency programs in health service psychology.
 
4.
Requested Scope of Recognition:   The accreditation in the United States of doctoral programs in clinical, counseling, school and combined professional-scientific psychology; doctoral internship programs in health service psychology; and postdoctoral residency programs in health service psychology. The preaccreditation in the United States of doctoral internship programs in health service psychology; and postdoctoral residency programs in health service psychology.
 
5.
Date of Advisory Committee Meeting:   June, 2015
 
6.
Staff Recommendation:   Expand the agency's scope as requested.
 
7.
Issues or Problems:   None


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 
 

PART I: GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE AGENCY

 
The American Psychological Association (APA), Commission on Accreditation (CoA or the agency) is a programmatic accreditor. It currently accredits over 900 professional education and training programs at the doctoral and postdoctoral level in psychology. The agency has identified multiple Federal programs that require the Secretary’s recognition of its accredited programs as a prerequisite for programs to participate in non-Title IV federal programs and/or federal employment. These include, for example--

•The Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS),
•The Federal Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) program for postdoctoral residency programs in medical settings, and
•The Predoctoral Fellowship offered by the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Administration (SAMSHA).

In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal prison system cite the APA’s CoA accreditation as the standard both for admission to its internship training programs in professional psychology and for employment as a psychologist at all VA medical centers (VAMCs).
 
 
Recognition History
 
The American Psychological Association (APA), Commission on Accreditation (CoA or the agency) received initial recognition by the Secretary in 1970, and has received continued recognition since that time. The agency was last reviewed for renewal of recognition at the spring 2011 meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI or the Committee). Both Department staff and NACIQI recommended to the senior Department official to continue the agency's recognition and require it to come into compliance within 12 months, and submit a compliance report that demonstrates the agency's compliance with the issues identified in the staff report. The senior Department official, Assistant Secretary Eduardo Ochoa, concurred with the recommendations. The compliance report was reviewed and accepted by both Department staff and NACIQI at the spring 2013 meeting.


PART II: SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

 
§602.12 Accrediting Experience

(b) A recognized agency seeking an expansion of its scope of recognition must demonstrate that it has granted accreditation or preaccreditation covering the range of the specific degrees, certificates, institutions, and programs for which it seeks the expansion of scope.


(NOTE: Only recognized agencies seeking an expansion of scope need to respond.)


 
The recognition of the CoA currently covers the accreditation in the United States of doctoral programs in clinical, counseling, school and combined professional-scientific psychology; doctoral internship programs in health service psychology; and postdoctoral residency programs in health service psychology. The agency is requesting an expansion of its current scope to include the preaccreditation ("accredited, on contingency") of doctoral internship programs and postdoctoral residency programs. Staff has reviewed the agency's request in the context of the applicable criteria.

This section of the criteria requires the CoA to demonstrate that it has granted preaccreditation covering the range of the specific programs for which it seeks the expansion of scope. Other aspects are to be considered as they pertain to the agency's experience.

The agency states that it has been preaccrediting programs since July 2014, and currently has six preaccredited
programs (four internship programs and two postdoctoral residency programs). The agency reviewed the programs using the standards, policies, and procedures developed by the agency to review such programs. The agency also provided example self-study, site visit report, and agency review and decision documents to demonstrate that it has the experience to review doctoral internship and postdoctoral residency programs for preaccreditation.
 

§602.13 Acceptance of the agency by others.
The agency must demonstrate that its standards, policies, procedures, and decisions to grant or deny accreditation are widely accepted in the United States by--

(a) Educators and educational institutions; and

(b) Licensing bodies, practitioners, and employers in the professional or vocational fields for which the educational institutions or programs within the agency's jurisdiction prepare their students.
 
The agency has demonstrated that it has broad acceptance of its standards, policies, procedures, and accrediting decisions from all of the entities required by the Secretary's Criteria for Recognition.

As documentation, the agency provided the public comments on the preaccreditation regulations, as well as the regulations themselves. The agency also provided the list of programs currently in the preaccredited status and documentation of the diversity of the CoA membership. Beyond the acceptance of the preaccreditation standards and decisions, the agency provided the expectations of employers, as well as the licensure and/or employment requirements for two states. Finally, the agency provided a narrative description of the participation of educators and educational institutions in accreditation activities.
 

§602.15 Administrative and fiscal responsibilities
(2) Competent and knowledgeable individuals, qualified by education and experience in their own right and trained by the agency on their responsibilities, as appropriate for their roles, regarding the agency's standards, policies, and procedures, to conduct its on-site evaluations, apply or establish its policies, and make its accrediting and preaccrediting decisions, including, if applicable to the agency's scope, their responsibilities regarding distance education and correspondence education;

 
The agency has written procedures for selecting and training its site visitors, including the team chair, as well as members of its policy- and decision-making entities, including the appeals panel members. The training on how to review preaccreditation programs is included for all entities.

Site Visitors:
The agency maintains written, comprehensive qualifications for selecting site visitors. The agency has provided documentation demonstrating that it has a comprehensive, on-going, training program that includes training and retraining for site team members as well as training targeted specifically to site team chairs and visits for preaccreditation.

Commissioners:
The 32-member CoA includes educators, practitioners, students and public representatives. The agency has written nomination criteria for selection of commissioners that includes specific education and experience for the “chair” they represent, thus ensuring broad representation of education and experience that includes all areas of the agency’s recognized scope. All CoA members receive orientation and workshop training, which includes preaccreditation.

Appeals Panel:
The agency has created a 21-member appeal panel pool. Panelists serve for 2 years and can serve an additional 2 years. Appeals panelists meet established criteria to serve and once appointed are required to attend a one-day training workshop on the agency’s appeals process.

The agency provided documentation of the membership and training for all entities.
 

§602.16 Accreditation and preaccreditation standards
(a) The agency must demonstrate that it has standards for accreditation, and preaccreditation, if offered, that are sufficiently rigorous to ensure that the agency is a reliable authority regarding the quality of the education or training provided by the institutions or programs it accredits. The agency meets this requirement if -
(1) The agency's accreditation standards effectively address the quality of the institution or program in the following areas:
(i) Success with respect to student achievement in relation to the institution's mission, which may include different standards for different institutions or programs, as established by the institution, including, as appropriate, consideration of course completion, State licensing examination, and job placement rates.

 
The agency has clearly specified standards for student achievement identified in Domain F that it applies to each accredited program and requires the program to address how effectively it meets its objectives and goals in its self-study. The agency expects the program to include in the self-study a detailed description of its self-assessment processes and the procedures to maintain or improve the program. The program must describe its effectiveness thorough outcomes data and detail in the self-study. The implementing regulations require the program to publish public disclosure information on its educational and training outcomes.

For preaccreditation, the agency expects that the program needs to demonstrate that it has a plan to collect outcomes data consistent with these guidelines and regulations, but not demonstrate immediate compliance with the guidelines and regulations. The agency expects that the program would be able to provide student outcomes data to meet these guidelines and regulations prior to accreditation. The exhibits show that the agency provided training and instructions to a program in addressing student outcomes in the self-study. In addition, the sample site-visit reports demonstrate that site visitors evaluated the program’s plan to collect student outcomes data.
 

(a)(1)(ii) Curricula.
 
The agency has clearly specified and comprehensive standards regarding curriculum in Domain B.2 for doctoral internship programs and in Domain B.3 for the postdoctoral residency programs. The agency requires the program to implement a curriculum plan that provides the means in which all students can acquire and demonstrate substantial understanding of and competence in specified areas listed in the standard.

Domain B of the postdoctoral residency program standards require an organized, logically sequenced program aimed at preparing psychologists for professional psychology practice at an advanced competency level in a substantive traditional or specialty practice area. The postdoctoral program must be clearly differentiated from other training programs within the institution to ensure that the education and training activities are cumulative, graduated in complexity, and structured in terms of their sequence, intensity, duration, and frequency, as well as planned and programmed in their methods and content.

The agency’s curriculum standards ensure that the programs develop clearly stated objectives for the courses and correlate program curriculum to its mission and objectives. The agency has demonstrated its application of its standards in the area of curriculum. The self-study format prompts the program to address the various components of the standard in a table to address the curriculum based on the course and required academic and training for each program. In addition, the site visit reports provided demonstrates the agency’s applies its standards in the evaluation of the curriculum.
 

(a)(1)(iii) Faculty.
 
The agency has specific written standards for faculty at each program level in Domains C and E. For each program level, the agency expects faculty to function as an integral part of the academic unit; have a sufficient number of faculty to handle their academic and profession responsibilities; have theoretical perspectives and academic and applied experiences appropriate to the program’s goals and objectives; demonstrate substantial competence and have recognized credentials in those areas which are at the core of the program’s objectives and goals; and are available to and function as appropriate role models for students.

Domain E addresses student-faculty relations and expressly evaluates whether the program considers the rights of students and faculty to maximize the quality and effectiveness of students’ learning experiences that ensure collegiality and is reflective of the scholarly community and the profession. The exhibits demonstrate that the self-study instructions offer guidelines in developing faculty and student relationships and advise the site visitors on how to evaluate the degree to which the expected relationships exist between the faculty and students.

The supporting documentation also reflects that, for the doctoral internship and postdoctoral residency programs, the standards address faculty competencies, to include the requisite knowledge and skills to provide effective instruction. The site visit reports demonstrate that the site visitors evaluate whether the faculty have the expected training, earned degrees, scholarship, experience, and classroom performance to meet the mission of the program.
 

(a)(1)(iv) Facilities, equipment, and supplies.
 
The agency’s standards regarding facilities, equipment and supplies appear in Domain A.3 for each program level as well as Domain C.3 and C.5 and reflect a specification and detail reasonable and appropriate to the program. At each program level, Domain A.3 requires that “the program is an integral part of the mission of the academic department, college, school, or institution in which it resides”. It is represented in the institution’s operating budget and plans in a manner designed to enable the program to achieve its goals and objectives. The exhibits reflect the agency’s application of its standards in evaluating the adequacy of the doctoral internship and postdoctoral residency programs' resources.
 

(a)(1)(ix) Record of student complaints received by, or available to, the agency.
 
The agency has standards to assess the existence of complaints and the extent to which they may reflect systemic issues within the program in Domains A and E. For example, Domains E .6 (internship programs) and E.7 (postdoctoral programs) require every accredited program (full and preaccredited) to keep records of all complaints and grievances against it, and informs programs that such information will be used in program review.

Programs are required to address complaints in the narrative of the self-study and include all public materials on the program and other program related material (brochures, letters, program manuals, handbooks, formal institutional policy and procedure memoranda, web address etc.) in the appendices to demonstrate publication of the complaint policy and procedures. The site visit reports reflect that these components were provided in the self-study and evaluated.
 

(a)(1)(v) Fiscal and administrative capacity as appropriate to the specified scale of operations.
 
The agency’s standards for administrative and fiscal capacity are described in three Domains (A, B, and C). These Domains ensure that programs will meet the agency’s expectations to attain and maintain financial stability and adequate administrative capacity. The agency's standards ensure that program leadership plays an integral part in the budget process that allows the program to accomplish stated mission and goals and are expected to demonstrate how they work with their sponsoring institutions to develop plans for additional fiscal/administrative resources as necessary for continuing program development.

The standards also require the leadership to demonstrate that it has the qualifications to manage fiscal and administrative operations. For example, the postdoctoral residency program standard in Domain B also requires the program to have a designated director, who is a psychologist, appropriately credentialed (i.e., licensed, registered, or certified) to practice psychology in the jurisdiction in which the program is located. The doctoral internship program standard in Domain B has language similar to the postdoctoral residency program with respect to the program leader.

The agency has demonstrated its effective application of its standards as reflected in the self-study instructions and sample self-studies which illustrate the type of agency guidance given to programs to prepare self-studies; the sample site visit reports that demonstrate that the agency’s evaluation team assesses the degree to which the program complies with the standard.
 

(a)(1)(vi) Student support services.
 
The agency has standards that specifically require a program to have student services, which are found in Domains C and E. Programs must identify all student support services (available through the program and/or institution) designed to facilitate progress through the program. These services may include, but are not limited to, counseling, financial assistance, health insurance, legal aid, etc. Domain E also examines the program according to the accessibility of faculty/staff to assess support available to students. The agency’s application of its standards in this area was reflected in the sample self-studies and site visit reports which addressed support services that included, among other things, access to the library holding, counseling services, health insurance, and financial support.
 

(a)(1)(vii) Recruiting and admissions practices, academic calendars, catalogs, publications, grading, and advertising.
 
The agency has standards to assess the accuracy and accessibility of information that addresses the components of this section in Domains A, E, and G. For example, Domain A.6 requires that “the program adheres to and makes available to all interested parties formal written policies and procedures that govern: academic admissions and degree requirements; administrative and financial assistance; student performance evaluation, feedback advisement, retention and termination decisions; and due process and grievance procedures for students and faculty.”

In addition to addressing these areas in the narrative of the self-study, programs are required to include all public materials on the program and other program related material (brochures, letters, program manuals, handbooks, formal institutional policy and procedure memoranda, web address etc.) in the appendices. The site visit reports reflect that these components were provided in the self-study and evaluated.
 

(a)(1)(viii) Measures of program length and the objectives of the degrees or credentials offered.
 
As a programmatic accreditor, the agency is not required to address this section of the criteria.
 

(a)(1)(x) Record of compliance with the institution's program responsibilities under Title IV of the Act, based on the most recent student loan default rate data provided by the Secretary, the results of financial or compliance audits, program reviews, and any other information that the Secretary may provide to the agency; and
 
As a programmatic accreditor, the agency is not required to address this section of the criteria.
 

(a)(2) The agency's preaccreditation standards, if offered, are appropriately related to the agency's accreditation standards and do not permit the institution or program to hold preaccreditation status for more than five years.
 
For the preaccreditation ("accredited, on contingency") of doctoral internship and postdoctoral residency programs, the agency applies the same standards as to those accredited. The difference lies in the level of review. Specifically, programs seeking preaccreditation must be reviewed on all aspects of the agency's Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation, and must provide a plan to collect outcome data in lieu of having program alumni and outcome data.

The CoA’s policies and procedures for preaccreditation status are located in the agency's Accreditation Operating Procedures, and the agency's polices do not permit a program to hold preaccreditation status for more than four years. Specifically, the agency states that a program can hold preaccredited status for a maximum of two years for full-time internship programs and four years for full-time postdoctoral residency programs that are more than one year in duration.

The agency provided documentation to demonstrate that it follows its own policies and procedures regarding the review and awarding of preaccreditation status.
 
 

PART III: THIRD PARTY COMMENTS

 
The Department did not receive any written third-party comments regarding this agency.