The Think College National Coordinating Center is proud to announce the release of the newly finalized Model Program Accreditation Standards for Higher Education Programs enrolling students with intellectual disability (ID).
The Center’s Accreditation Workgroup, led by chair Stephanie Smith Lee, created and field-tested the Program Accreditation Standards for Inclusive Higher Education (National Coordinating Center Accreditation Workgroup, 2016). These standards are necessary to provide quality assurance for institutions of higher education (IHE) and accrediting agencies, as well as students with ID and their families. These program standards have been created, vetted, and refined through rigorous field testing, and are ready to be used to validate and strengthen higher education programs enrolling students with ID throughout the US.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) enacted in 2008 created new opportunities for students with intellectual disability to access higher education. This Act authorized access to certain forms of federal student aid for qualified students with ID and created a new program of model demonstrations called the Transition Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disability (TPSID) and a corresponding National Coordinating Center (NCC).
In 2011, the National Coordinating Center established the first accreditation workgroup comprised of policy and practice experts from around the country (National Coordinating Center Accreditation Workgroup, 2016). This workgroup drafted an initial set of model national Model Program Accreditation Standards, obtained significant public input, and subsequently revised the model program standards. These standards were shared with the Secretary of Education, Congress and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity on September 30, 2016.
In 2015, a new Accreditation Workgroup was established by the National Coordinating Center. Building on the previous work, Ms. Lee continued to serve as the chair and directed this second Accreditation Workgroup (2015-2020) to field-test the accreditation standards, obtain additional public input, refine the standard language and craft technical guidance for use.
The model program accreditation standards reflect recent progress in the field of inclusive higher education and address policy and implementation challenges and opportunities. The model standards were developed to align with the standards structure used by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity or NACIQI. NACIQI provides recommendations regarding accrediting agencies that monitor the academic quality of postsecondary institutions and educational programs for federal purposes. The Workgroup is currently preparing a new report on the standards that will be distributed to Congress, the Secretary of Education and to the public when completed.
These standards will guide the work of the 2020-2025 Office of Postsecondary Education funded National Coordinating Center for the TPSID projects and provide the foundation for data collection, evaluation, and technical assistance. Newly funded model demonstration projects will be supported by the NCC to monitor and document their progress toward attainment of accreditation standards each year and, by completion of the 5-year project, be prepared to become accredited.
2015-2020 ACCREDITATION WORKGROUP MEMBERS
Chaired by Stephanie Smith Lee, Senior Policy Advisor, National Down Syndrome Congress
Carol Britton-Laws, Asst. Clinical Professor & Director Destination Dawgs, University of Georgia
Jon Fansmith, Director, Government Relations, American Council on Education
Wilbert L. Francis, Project Director, Open the Doors to College, Tarjan Center at UCLA
Meg Grigal, Principal Investigator, Think College National Coordinating Center
Debra Hart, Co-Principal Investigator, Think College National Coordinating Center
David Michael Mank, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University
Elise McMillan, Co-Director, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University
Deborah J. Amsden Micklos, Project Coordinator, University of Delaware
Rachel Quenemoen, Senior Research Associate (retired) University of Minnesota
Tracy Rand, Managing Director, Office of Specializeåd Services, Bergen Community College
Denise Rozell, Director of Policy Innovation, Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Jenni Sandler, Director, Access Services and ACHIEVE, Highline College
Chrisann Schiro-Geist, Professor and Director, Institute on Disability, University of Memphis
Terri L. Shelton, Vice Chancellor, University of North Carolina Greensboro
Stephan J. Smith, Executive Director, Association on Higher Education and Disability
Cate Weir, Project Director, Think College National Coordinating Center
Madeleine Will, Co-Founder, Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination
The late Roberta L. (Bobbie) Derlin, National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity