Yes, by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). We’re on the Open Pathway and our next reaffirmation is in academic year 2024-2025. The Higher Learning Commission is one of six regional accreditors recognized by the US Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CHEA is essentially the Better Business Bureau of accreditors (said another way, they are sort of like an accreditor of accreditors). To see proof of KSU’s HLC accreditation, go here: https://www.hlcommission.org/component/directory/?Itemid=&Action=ShowBasic&instid=1556
We receive a lot of questions about the accreditation status of Kent State, EHHS, and individual programs. Below are answers to some of our more frequently asked questions. If there is still something you would like to know about, please reach out to Erica Eckert, Assistant Dean for Assessment and Accreditation.
Is Kent State accredited?
What is the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) looking for? What does it take to be accredited?
The Higher Learning Commission, like all CHEA-recognized accreditors, asks us to write a self-study to provide evidence of the work we are doing to meet their standards (HLC calls these “criteria”). Then a group of evaluators review the materials and visit the campus (when travel is safe) to interview institutional stakeholders on site to corroborate the report and ask additional questions as needed. The five standards, briefly, are 1) Mission (clear and publicly articulated mission that drives the institution’s work), 2) Integrity (the institution acts ethically and responsibly in its dealings with stakeholders), 3) Teaching and Learning (educational quality and rigor, sufficiency and qualifications of faculty and staff, and supporting student learning), 4) Quality and Improvement (assessment, evaluation, and continuous improvement of educational programs, student outcomes (learning, graduation), and co-curricular experiences), and 5) Institutional Effectiveness (strategic direction, use of resources to achieve specific goals, sufficiency of financial resources). We undergo this process periodically; on the Open Pathway we undergo full review every 10 years, but many reports are submitted in the period between visits from the accreditor. For more, see: https://www.hlcommission.org/Policies/criteria-and-core-components.html
Why do we have to be accredited by HLC?
In order for our students to be eligible for federal financial aid (Pell grants, subsidized and unsubsidized loans, PLUS loans), we have to be accredited. This requirement has been in place since the Higher Education Act of 1965. If KSU is not accredited, students cannot use federal dollars to attend our institution (even if they are loans that would be paid back). The State of Ohio (via the Ohio Department of Higher Education) also requires that we maintain regional accreditation—and we’re in the Higher Learning Commission’s region; this is outlined in the Guidelines & Procedures for Academic Program Review published by ODHE most recently in July, 2016.
Is the College of Education, Health, and Human Services (EHHS) accredited?
There is no accreditor for a college within a university—but the college is covered by the accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. They review the institution as a whole. But it would be wrong to say the college holds accreditation—the decision isn’t rendered at that level. Several programs within the College of EHHS are accredited by discipline-specific accreditors. This type of accreditor focuses on one or possibly two disciplines—for example, the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) is the accrediting body for Nutrition programs. They do not look at any programs other than Nutrition programs. The accredited programs in the College of EHHS (along with the accrediting body) are listed here: https://www.kent.edu/ehhs/professionally-accredited-programs
Why are some specific programs (e.g., individual degree programs) accredited when others are not?
Disciplinary accreditation is not available for all disciplines/program areas… and if one is, it may be optional or required—depending on the discipline. Yes, that is confusing. An example will make this clearer. For programs in which a license is granted, there is usually a mandated accreditor (e.g., Counseling, Teacher Licensure, Nutrition, School Psychology). For these (and several other) programs, the state requires that a program hold accreditation in order for a student to be eligible for licensure once they complete the program. Then there are the optional accreditors—for example, our Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management has held accreditation from the Council of Accreditation for Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions (CoAPRT) for many years—simply because they wanted to pursue that as an indication of program quality. Only 72 programs in the country hold this accreditation. Similarly, our Hospitality Management program, has sought and maintained accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration. This is not something they were forced to do, but they felt it was an important process to undertake. We also have programs that have not sought available accreditation, and this is absolutely fine. There are many reasons to not pursue accreditation (if the accreditation is optional)—sometimes the standards don’t make sense for what we’re trying to accomplish; other times the accreditors do not hold recognition from CHEA (essentially the accreditor of accreditors), and in other some, the accreditation process would be prohibitively expensive. Sometimes it is a combination of all three. The important thing to understand is, accredited or not, every program at Kent State is asked to collect data annually to evaluate how well students are doing, and to make adjustments to bring about improvements.
Are the teacher education programs at Kent State accredited?
Many of our teacher education programs carry a collective accreditation by NCATE (since 1957). This organization reviews the programs within its scope as a whole, and renders a decision for all programs as a collection. They review initial teacher licensure programs (first teacher license) and advanced licensure programs (second teaching license or other school personnel licenses such as principal). We were last accredited by NCATE in 2016, based on a submitted report and a visit that occurred in 2015. The accreditation is “good” for seven years (it will expire in 2023). NCATE reviews programs in accordance with six standards (student knowledge, skills, and dispositions; assessment system; clinical experience; diversity; faculty qualifications; governance and resources). The Ohio Department of Higher Education requires that Kent State maintain accreditation with NCATE or CAEP in the ODHE Guidelines & Procedures for Academic Program Review published most recently in July, 2016. We chose to pursue NCATE accreditation in 2015 because CAEP was a new organization at that time, and the standards had been released fairly recently. At the end of this accreditation period with NCATE, we will move to CAEP accreditation.
Is the [Early Childhood] Education program [or other individual license-level program] accredited?
Each teacher licensure program is reviewed by the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) to ensure it meets both Ohio’s standards and the standards of the disciplinary area (e.g., early childhood, middle childhood, special education). ODHE is not an accreditor—when they render a decision on a program it is considered an approval. Every program is reviewed, and if they meet the standards they are approved. We then report the approvals to the larger accrediting body (NCATE, soon to be CAEP). So it would be incorrect to say an individual teacher licensure program is accredited—they are approved by ODHE, which is not an accreditor. However, those decisions from ODHE, rendered once every seven years, are very important to our accreditor in determining the quality of the individual licensure programs that make up our larger educator preparation unit. As previously mentioned, the accreditor does not review individual programs, but rather the group of all teacher licensure programs as a whole.
Note: Some teacher licensure programs have the option of filing for an additional recognition by a specialized professional association that is aligned with their specific area; for example, the specialized professional association for Integrated Language Arts (7-12) is the National Council of Teachers of English. This type of recognition is not equivalent to accreditation but is a strong indicator of program quality. We will share this report with our accreditor for their consideration as evidence of quality. At this time, many of our teacher licensure programs do not have a specialized professional association to which they can submit a recognition report—so they cannot achieve this type of recognition (through no fault of their own).
Are the teacher education programs at Kent State accredited by CAEP?
No, not yet. CAEP reviews educator preparation providers every seven years—and we will undergo our first self-study and visit in 2022. Like NCATE, CAEP does not accredit individual programs (for example, early childhood, middle childhood, physical education)—they review and accredit all of the licensure programs as one whole body. They review initial licensure programs and advanced licensure programs—but not endorsements (per the definition provided by ODHE, which dictates the terms of our engagement with CAEP). Endorsements are and will continue to be approved by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The CAEP standards, briefly are: student knowledge, skills, and dispositions; clinical experience; recruiting, admission criteria, and progression/exit criteria; program completer impact and employer satisfaction; data quality and use of data for program improvement. While CAEP does not currently have standards specifically related to technology and diversity, they are threaded throughout the current standards as themes. CAEP is currently revising their standards with the intent of releasing a new set in late 2020. As noted in the NCATE question, the Ohio Department of Higher Education requires that Kent State maintain accreditation with NCATE or CAEP in the ODHE Guidelines & Procedures for Academic Program Review published most recently in July, 2016. NCATE ceased to issue new accreditation decisions after 2016.
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