Frequently Asked Questions


ACCPAS Protocols, Procedures, and the Application of Standards

Q: My school is scheduled to conduct its comprehensive review. The dates of the visit and members of the visiting team have been confirmed. Can this visit be rescheduled/postponed?

A: Yes. On-site reviews may be rescheduled/postponed by schools as necessary and desired. Schools finding it necessary to postpone comprehensive accreditation reviews from one academic year to the next (i.e., from 2022-2023 to 2023-2024) for good cause may wish to review ACCPAS’s Policy on Postponements. As a reminder, formal requests for postponements require approval and therefore must be submitted to the National Office. Should questions arise regarding the Policy or its application, please contact Kathryn Omune in the National Office (komune@arts-accredit.org).

Q: My school is scheduled to conduct its comprehensive review. Although the visitation dates have been confirmed, one of the evaluators is no longer able to serve on the team. Can a replacement be found at this time? If not, what options are available?

A: Two options are available for consideration – (a) work with the National Office staff to seek a new team member, or (b) request a postponement of the visit. Schools interested in postponing comprehensive visits should review the ACCPAS Policy on Postponements. Kathryn Omune (komune@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office is available to discuss each option in detail.

Q: Will the rescheduling of a visit, a request for postponement, or the provision of an extension of time to submit required information to the Commission result in a future adverse Commission action?

A: The rescheduling and postponement of visits, and extension of deadlines as they pertain to anticipated Commission replies, will have no effect on the outcome of future Commission reviews and actions provided the school moves forward on the newly established and approved timeline expeditiously. It is important to note that procedural remedies that offer a provision of additional time are offered by ACCPAS to accredited schools to assist them to conduct insightful reviews and prepare clear and well-considered replies.

Q: When is my school’s next on-site comprehensive review?

A: Every accredited school is required to proactively schedule, as initiated by the submission of its Notice of Intention to Apply form, its next comprehensive accreditation review and conduct its associated on-site evaluative visit in a timely fashion and in accord with ACCPAS Procedures. The dates of a school’s next comprehensive review (expressed as an academic year, i.e., 2022-2023, 2023-2024, etc.) may be found in the ACCPAS Directory List. Schools should schedule the on-site review at their convenience during either the fall or spring of the academic year listed. Materials (i.e., Self-Study, Management Documents Portfolio, etc.), should be sent to each visiting evaluator and the ACCPAS National Office no later than four weeks prior to the actual date of the on-site review. Should questions arise regarding the schedule of comprehensive reviews, please contact Kathryn Omune (komune@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Q: According to the ACCPAS Directory List, my school is slated for its comprehensive review during the 2021-2022 academic year. Can the comprehensive review be postponed until the next academic year?

A: Yes. Please see ACCPAS’s Policy on Postponements. The Policy offers helpful and specific information to those wishing to consider postponements of comprehensive reviews whether scheduled or anticipated. Should questions arise, please contact Kathryn Omune (komune@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Q: Is ACCPAS conducting or planning to conduct virtual comprehensive visits?

A: Virtual visits associated with comprehensive reviews are not being conducted at this time and are not planned in the foreseeable future. In-person reviews of student work and competency development, institutional resources as they support arts programs, and intellectual dialogue and interaction among colleagues, continue to be irreplaceable components of the ACCPAS peer review process – a process that is designed to consider all aspects of a school and the interrelationships between and among them. Should questions arise, please contact Kathryn Omune (komune@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Q: Can a consultative visit be conducted virtually?

A: Schools secure the services of consultants for a variety of reasons. Consultative work which includes a review of documentation (such as a Self-Study and supportive materials prepared for a comprehensive review) and discussion of the application of standards could be accomplished virtually. Schools proceeding in such fashions are guided to ensure the security and confidentiality of the platform(s) used. However, if the intention of a consultative review is consideration of the development of student competencies and the adequacy of resources to support the arts program, it is recommended that the review be conducted in-person. Should questions arise, please contact Kathryn Omune (komune@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Q: Many changes are underway and/or anticipated at this time. Must each be reported to ACCPAS?

A: It depends. In cases where the changes are substantial in nature as defined by ACCPAS in the Rules of Practice and Procedure (see ACCPAS Handbook 2020, Rules of Practice and Procedure, Article VII.), applications for Substantive Change will be required. Changes of less substantive natures will be reviewed during a school’s next comprehensive review. School representatives unsure of whether a change is “substantial” should contact Ben Karnes (bkarnes@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office. As the school considers options and implements changes, the following reminders are offered:

  • All policy changes whether temporary or permanent should be documented by the school and disseminated and made available to appropriate constituencies.
  • Schools may wish to seek review by legal counsel of any proposed change to ascertain the potential for risk and/or liability.

Q: Will the implementation of changes affect the school’s accreditation status?

A: A school making changes in direct response to unfolding circumstances may wonder whether ACCPAS will take an immediate action which could jeopardize the school’s current accreditation status. It is important to remember that all ACCPAS Commission reviews operate within an existing, established, and published system of due process—a system which opens conversations; welcomes dialogue; offers the opportunity to discuss comprehensively a school’s initiatives and, based on these initiatives, its ongoing ability to comply with standards; and comes to conclusion only after thorough consideration of all salient information has been completed (see ACCPAS Handbook 2020, Rules of Practice and Procedure, Article III., Sections 2.–4.). Careful attention to the processes outlined above and consideration of anticipated changes in light of current standards typically result in collegial conversations among peers interested in the advancement of arts students and student achievement which assist schools to not only demonstrate compliance with applicable standards, but to hone and advance their own initiatives. Should a school desire feedback regarding the potential impact of an anticipated change on the school’s continuing ability to comply with standards, please contact Ben Karnes (bkarnes@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Q: My school is considering the viability of all curricular offerings at this time, including those curricular programs which may be discontinued. Is information available that might assist me to create a set of talking points which outline and support the value of the arts and arts study?

A: Yes. Many documents are available in libraries of NASAD, NASD, NASM, and NAST which speak to this important issue, and therefore may be of assistance to community and pre-collegiate arts schools. In addition to a review of salient information found in available documents, please feel free to engage the staff in conversation to discuss approaches being considered and plans anticipated. Members of the ACCPAS staff may be able to offer helpful ideas and perspectives.

Q: Are the provisions of the ACCPAS Code of Ethics still in force?

A: ACCPAS has been following since 2017 a possible restraint of trade concern held by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as it may pertain to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) specifically with regard to changes made by NACAC to its Code of Ethics and Professional Practices in 2017. Although NACAC amended its Code provisions in September of 2019, the concern resulted in a complaint filed by DOJ against NACAC in December of 2019 (see Federal Register dated January 10, 2020). Comprehensive information regarding the DOJ proceedings, which have now come to a close, may be found here. The DOJ Final Judgment dated April 17, 2020 may be found here. Given the provisions of the DOJ Final Judgment, CAAA will be offering in the form of Proposed Revisions to the ACCPAS Handbook 2020, modifications to specific provisions of the current ACCPAS Code of Ethics. A Notice of Proposed Revisions will be forwarded to representatives later this year following protocols articulated in the ACCPAS Handbook 2020. A vote of the Trustees of the Council of Arts Accrediting Associations is expected to be taken in January of 2021. The text of the ACCPAS Code of Ethics remains unchanged at this time. However, when applying the provisions of the ACCPAS Code, it is suggested that schools become mindful of and attentive to the provisions of the DOJ Final Judgment. Although certain specific activities are now prohibited as outlined in the DOJ Final Judgment, it is important to remember that (a) a hallmark of the work of ACCPAS accredited schools is the continuing and unwavering regard held for ethical practices that are fair, applied equitably, and continue to serve and protect both schools and students, and the field, and (b) such practices may be freely exercised absent the presence of articulated requirements. The Code of Ethics is based upon long-standing ACCPAS principles, which remain today. Approaches and initiatives which (a) uphold the spirit of the ACCPAS Code and the principles upon which it rests firmly, and (b) attend to the letter of the DOJ judgment should be considered as appropriate and can be implemented consistent with the provisions of each. Should questions arise, please contact Paul Florek (pflorek@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Meetings

Q: When is the next meeting of the ACCPAS Commission?

A: The next meeting of the ACCPAS Commission will take place in Winter 2022.

Submission Deadlines

Q: When are materials slated for review by the ACCPAS Commission due?

A: Materials in support of a comprehensive review (Self-Study, Management Documents Portfolio, Self-Study Appendices) must be submitted at least four weeks prior to a school’s on-site visitation. The submission deadline for consideration of institutional applications is November 15. Instructions regarding the nature and format of Commission submissions may be found at the addresses as follows: Optional ResponsesResponses and Progress ReportsPlan Approval and/or Final Approval for Listing applications. Commission Action Reports will be sent to schools thirty days after the close of the meeting. At this time, ACCPAS requests that all submissions intended for review by the Commission in 2021 be submitted in hard and electronic copy (i.e., USB flash drive). Should questions arise regarding submissions and/or submission deadlines, please contact Ben Karnes (bkarnes@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Q: Due to the effects of the coronavirus, the visit dates for my school were rescheduled. Must the Self-Study and accompanying materials be amended and resubmitted?

A: No. If a site visit related to a comprehensive review is rescheduled or postponed, updates to the Self-Study may be provided as part of a school’s Optional Response submitted after receipt of the Visitors’ Report. The Self-Study and accompanying materials should not be rewritten and resubmitted. Questions regarding submissions may be directed to Ben Karnes (bkarnes@arts-accredit.org).

Q: If a school postpones its on-site comprehensive review and the Self-Study and supporting documentation have been finalized, must they be amended?

A: No. If a site visit related to a comprehensive review is rescheduled or postponed, updates to the Self-Study may be provided as part of a school’s Optional Response submitted after receipt of the Visitors’ Report. The Self-Study and accompanying materials should not be rewritten and resubmitted. Questions regarding submissions may be directed to Ben Karnes (bkarnes@arts-accredit.org).

Q: My school is required to respond to issues outlined in an ACCPAS Commission Action Report. If additional time is needed to prepare the school’s reply, may an extension be requested?

A: Yes. A school may request an extension for good cause. A request should be sent to Ben Karnes (bkarnes@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Submission Format

Q: In what format should materials be submitted for Commission review?

A: Schools are asked to follow existing protocols, providing three copies of comprehensive visit materials, and two copies of Responses and Progress Reports and Plan Approval and/or Final Approval for Listing applications. These materials should be submitted to the National Office in hard and electronic copy (i.e., on a flash drive) by the prescribed submission deadline.

Q: If a school accredited by ACCPAS plans to develop, enroll students in, and/or advertise a new curricular program which falls under the purview of ACCPAS and is to be offered on a continuous basis, is an application for Plan Approval required?

A: Yes. Schools considering or that have initiated new curricular programs are guided to review procedures and requirements applicable to new curricular programs which may be found in the ACCPAS Handbook 2020, Rules of Practice and Procedure, Article I., Section 3. and Article VIII., and the ACCPAS Policies and Procedures for Reviews of New Curricula. Temporary and short-term curricular programs implemented in response to the effects of the coronavirus (i.e., the temporary movement of coursework from on ground to online) need not be submitted for Plan Approval. Schools are reminded that programs in which more than 40% of the required coursework is delivered through distance learning means will be designated as distance learning programs by ACCPAS and in ACCPAS publications, and therefore are required to be submitted for Plan Approval (even if an on ground version of the same curricular program is offered and has been approved by ACCPAS) (see ACCPAS Handbook 2020, Appendix I.D.). Should questions arise regarding the necessity to submit applications for Plan Approval, please contact Ben Karnes (bkarnes@arts-accredit.org) prior to submission. Staff will work with each school individually to ascertain and confirm the necessity for submission.

Q: What must a school do if it plans to discontinue an existing curricular program now approved and listed by ACCPAS, and enrolling students?

A: Schools are asked to notify ACCPAS of intentions to discontinue offering currently approved and listed curricular programs. At the same time, such curricular listings should be removed from school published materials. Should schools decide to reactivate such programs in the future, applications for Plan Approval will be required.

Q: If a school accredited by ACCPAS plans to make substantive changes to a currently approved and listed curricular program, is an application for Substantive Change required?

A: It depends. In cases where the changes are substantial in nature as defined by ACCPAS in the Rules of Practice and Procedure (see ACCPAS Handbook 2020, Rules of Practice and Procedure, Article VII.), applications for Substantive Change will be required. Changes of less substantive natures will be reviewed during a school’s next comprehensive review. School representatives unsure of whether a change is “substantial” should contact Ben Karnes (bkarnes@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Q: My school has just received an invoice from ACCPAS. We note that the invoice suggests that the balance is due within thirty (30) days. Given the financial hardships faced by my school at this time, would ACCPAS consider a modified payment option?

A: Yes. ACCPAS is aware of the financial challenges faced by schools at this time. Should you wish to discuss payment options, please contact Tracy Maraney (tmaraney@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Q: I was scheduled to travel to a school to conduct an on-site review. This review has now been rescheduled/postponed. May I submit expenses incurred to date to ACCPAS for reimbursement now rather than waiting until after the rescheduled on-site review?

A: Yes. Evaluators (and consultants) who have incurred expenses as a result of rescheduled/postponed on-site reviews are asked to submit their expense forms with receipts to ACCPAS for reimbursement at the earliest possible time. Please notify ACCPAS if there has been any change in your mailing address at this time. Individuals planning to visit the school at a later date are asked, if possible, to work directly with the travel carrier to secure the value of the ticket and to apply this value when rebooking. Individuals who are unable to participate in a future visit are asked, if possible, to work directly with the travel carrier to seek a refund for the full or partial cost of the ticket and if successful to reduce the total amount of expenses by the refunded amount. Please note that information regarding expenses, including expense forms and associated receipts may be submitted electronically for expedited service. Should questions arise regarding expenses or the reimbursement process, please contact Tracy Maraney (tmaraney@arts-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Q: I have accepted an invitation to serve as a visiting evaluator (consultant) for a visit that is scheduled to take place in the fall. What are my options if (a) I don’t feel comfortable traveling given current national circumstances, and/or (b) my school has banned all employee travel?

A: ACCPAS appreciates the time and effort offered by the volunteers that participate in the accreditation process. It respects the positions of its volunteers and the schools they represent. Evaluators (and consultants) scheduled for visits that are rescheduled or postponed are asked to make their own determinations about their ability to serve during the newly requested time period based upon existing and current personal and institutional conditions. If for any reason an individual is unable to participate in an upcoming visit, please contact Kathryn Omune (komune@art-accredit.org) in the National Office.

Latitude and Flexibility

ACCPAS standards and procedures offer the wide latitude necessary for work in a creative field. The standards are frameworks that address functions and their fulfillment, leaving methods and means to institutional discretion. Such latitude supports institutional development and use of new or different means during difficult times, or at any time. Given these flexibilities, the standards frameworks and procedures now in place remain effective in the guidance and support they provide to institutions. Such a position of consistency and constancy is comforting when it appears clear that applications, approaches, and methodologies established by institutions and accepted as common practice based on years of their proven efficiency and effectiveness at times may no longer be practical, or in some cases, possible. To deal with such realities, schools adopt or may have to adopt temporary practices, procedures, and policies in response to current situations. Disruptions require schools to find new ways to address functions once served by long-standing virtually ubiquitous practices. Practices that pertain to issues such as the delivery of course content, rehearsal and performance participation, grading policies, admission procedures, and the like, are being reconsidered, recalibrated, and reintroduced in creatively modified ways. Although ACCPAS standards are set in a framework which offers flexibility and provides latitude, a framework which encourages experimentation, innovation, and the development of new approaches to curricula which enables schools to address the functions expressed in the standards and their fulfillment in various ways, many schools are left to wonder whether their planned initiatives (i.e., new curricular programs, substantive changes) and/or newly and swiftly implemented policies will enable them to continue to adhere to applicable ACCPAS standards. Should such reasonable questions arise, administrators are asked to contact the National Office staff swiftly and without hesitation. The National Office staff exists to serve ACCPAS accredited schools and constituencies. Though the ACCPAS Commission holds singular authority and responsibility to ascertain compliance, the National Office staff can provide information, assistance, and advice as you unpack and consider issues of concern and work through scenarios that not only enable the school to address current realities but attend to ACCPAS requirements. It remains important for ACCPAS accredited schools to meet the letter and spirit of the standards as appropriate – standards expressed in functions which indicate to students, the public, and state/federal agencies the basic content and level of rigor expected in community and precollegiate education and training, and the skills, knowledge, and competencies that students enrolled in these programs of study are expected to acquire and master.

Looking for Solutions

Ideas and feedback provided by peers can be invaluable. However, a practice that may work well for some, accepted as a panacea for all, may be less effective in addressing individual challenges faced by other schools. It is important to remember that each school and situation is unique, and therefore that each situation requires careful thought, consideration, and decision-making which specifically addresses the issues before the school. One of the strengths of our education system is the freedom available to each school to create, design, and implement initiatives and curricular programs which align with locally stated missions and intents, and the ability these freedoms provide to schools to solve problems on their own terms given local conditions and the availability of resources. Administrators should seek information pertinent to current situations from appropriate and confirmed authorities, but use this information specifically and perhaps, uniquely. Information and analysis that specifically targets a school’s particular challenges can inform decision-making processes in invaluable ways. Implementation of a one-size-fits-all, “off-the-shelf” solution may exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, existing undesirable conditions. The strategic approach described herein will require the dedication of an amount of time necessary to collect information and consider various options. However, such an approach may provide to the school the most comprehensive set of means available to assist it to find the most effective way forward.

On Ground Operations

Q: With regard to on ground classes, rehearsals, performances, exhibitions, and the like, when can we resume daily/typical (before COVID-19) levels of activity? What effect will modifications to such practices have on the accreditation status of my school? What issues are important to consider as we study the viability and safety of conducting in-person activities and events?

A: For many, ACCPAS is a source of information, stability, assistance, and wisdom – resulting historically from its intellectually-focused, school-centered, and fair-minded approach to its accreditation responsibilities, and also from ACCPAS’s deep respect for all types and mixtures of artistic and intellectual work and for the artistic and intellectual work accomplished by accredited schools. In its role to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and dialogue, ACCPAS does not attempt to formulate doctrine, a curriculum, or a set of curricula to which all must adhere. ACCPAS seeks to preserve and enhance conditions that support different and school-specific pathways, approaches, and agendas within the arts disciplines. The breadth of variety within ACCPAS is evidence of institutional creativity. A focus on function rather than method remains a condition of creative freedom in an organization of ACCPAS’s scope. With these principles firmly in place, ACCPAS conversations concentrate on schools individually in light of existing realities in play; they assist schools to open and/or expand dialogues which advance their efforts to consider, design, and implement tailor-made solutions that will lead them to actions that enable each on its own terms to address local conditions and realities. The practice of engaging in conversations which focus solely on a particular school – its mission, its, goals, its desired outcomes – is a hallmark of the work of ACCPAS, and often provides abiding assistance and support to schools, and nurtures approaches to thinking that can be captured and applied in the future to a multitude of situations. Employing this approach, conversations in which all parties are engaged often serve as catalysts which spur and support schools to find their own answers, on their own terms, informed by their stated missions, answers also aligned with national standards. Although these conversations often focus on anticipated results, beyond the framework of functions outlined in the standards, ACCPAS avoids, and rightfully so, any suggestion of what a school must do or how a school initiative must be accomplished. Such decisions can be made only by administrators and faculties possessing extensive knowledge of local realities, potential options and opportunities, and available resources, resources which may be needed and/or are available to support initiatives designed to address school-specific challenges. During these particularly difficult times, it is important to recall that journeys marked by discoveries which result in the consideration of factual and applicable information can promote deeper understanding of conditions which may in turn, assist administrators to reach conclusions that take into account the health and safety of all individuals involved in the work school. As schools offering community and precollegiate arts study consider the advisability of conducting on ground classes, rehearsals, performances, exhibitions and the like, it remains imperative that definitive information be secured, studied, and used to support decision-making efforts, and that any advice received or good practices shared by others be entertained in light of what the school is able to accomplish reasonably and within its means given existing resources.

Resumption of activities should be considered only after comprehensive consideration of salient facts has been undertaken, and only at such times when each school deems that its activities may be conducted safely. Issues such as testing; quarantine guidelines; protocols when individuals are found to be symptomatic or test positive; physical distancing; queue markers; space capacities for facilities such as dining halls and restrooms; use capacity for tight spaces such as hallways, stairways, and elevators; total capacities for existing spaces such as dorm rooms, transportation vehicles; size of gatherings; use of masks, gloves, and shields; disinfecting and cleaning procedures and timelines for high and low touch surfaces; capacities of HVAC systems including air flow and turnover rate; and movement of air in spaces should be considered. Once protocols are approved, each should be memorialized in writing and shared as appropriate with members of the school’s community. To assist schools in this regard, ACCPAS will be offering a series of professional development seminars based on scientific studies now underway which are focusing on bioaerosol emissions in the performing arts and possible proactive measures that can be taken to reduce exposures. Please see information pertaining to the topic-focused session entitled, Bioaerosol Emissions in the Performing Arts – Reducing Emissions and Exposures: A Multi-Part Series listed in the Informed Decision-Making section of this webpage.

The dialogues which take place between schools and ACCPAS are tailored to assist and support schools as they advance initiatives intended to strengthen the education and training provided to students and advance the cause of community and precollegiate arts study. These conversations focus on each school individually. It is important to note that the provision of broad overarching statements which suggest general remedies or discipline-wide solutions for all could lead to incalculable harm to schools and their students. Noting the changes being made by schools in direct response to unfolding circumstances, some wonder whether ACCPAS will take immediate negative action which could jeopardize a school’s current accreditation status. It is important to remember that ACCPAS reviews each school against the standards as they apply to the school given its current and planned programs and initiatives. ACCPAS will continue to ascertain what has been promised to students, whether these promises are being fulfilled, and whether in fulfilling its promises, the school continues to meet applicable standards expressed primarily in functions rather than methods. It is also important to remember that ACCPAS Commission reviews operate within an existing, established, and published system of due process – a system which opens conversations; welcomes dialogue; offers the opportunity to discuss comprehensively a school’s initiatives, and based on these initiatives, its ongoing ability to comply with standards; and reaches conclusion only after consideration of all salient information. It is strongly recommended that schools concerned about how standards are applied and ongoing standards compliance seek the counsel of the staff. Such conversations offer to administrators opportunities to discuss and brainstorm a number of pressing issues. ACCPAS continues to encourage schools to consult with local health and safety officials, to monitor information and guidelines released by the CDC, and as necessary, to seek review by legal counsel of any potential risk and/or liability which could be associated with decisions pertaining to resumption of on ground activities.

Assistance

Q: During these challenging times where can I find assistance?

A: Various types of assistance can be found within and beyond ACCPAS. Colleagues: The comfort of colleagues can and should be sought. Those who share an understanding of the challenges we face on a daily basis and provide kind and reassuring words at just the right moment, can awaken our tired and worn spirits and rejuvenate our resolve. Peer Schools: The practices of peers may be helpful to know, but implementation of the practices of others should be studied carefully and undertaken only if the practice aligns with the school’s intentions and abilities. ACCPAS Staff: ACCPAS staff members are available to discuss ACCPAS policies, protocols, procedures and standards, and those of external agencies/entities that may have a bearing on a school’s ability to maintain compliance with applicable ACCPAS standards. Please do not hesitate to contact the staff before a thought turns into a worry, before a curiosity grows into a saga of epic proportion. A list of staff names and assigned responsibilities may be found online. Staff members stand ready to offer assistance. As well, please do not hesitate to contact the Executive Director if assistance is required (kmoynahan@arts-accredit.org; (703) 437-0700, ext. 116). Remember that regardless of how weary you are, you have more power than you know. Look to each other for comfort, to the activities of others for inspiration, to the work of those with appropriate expertise for information, to the work we as a field have accomplished as a source of pride. Have faith in your wisdom, your fortitude, and your ability to address what arrives on your desks tomorrow knowing that your leadership is ever more critical during these challenging and unprecedented times.