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CACREP Accreditation: Evidence & Documentation in Tk20

by Dr. Debra C. Cobia, Associate Dean and Professor of Counselor Education, College of Education, University of West Georgia

Background

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) requires counselor preparation programs (CPPs) to implement assessment systems and procedures that provide concrete, direct evidence that students demonstrate the knowledge, practice, and skills outcomes articulated in the accreditation standards (CACREP, 2009). The 2009 Standards represent a significant departure from preceding standards. Rather than describe what students are taught, CPPs must demonstrate what students know and are able to do. The emphasis on the assessment of student learning outcomes (SLOs) by CACREP is consistent with general trends in higher education accreditation. However, in my role as a site team chair for CACREP accreditation, I find that most programs do not participate in the data management system adopted by the colleges of education in which most of them are housed (LiveText, Taskstream, Tk20, etc.).

Using Tk20 to Prepare for Accreditation

At the University of West Georgia, the school and clinical mental health counseling programs recently undertook a self-study to support their application for CACREP reaccreditation. Although the programs had established student learning outcomes (SLOs) for which assessment data were collected and managed through Tk20, it became obvious during the self-study process that the data management system could provide additional support for accreditation. Specifically, the following initiatives to be managed in Tk20 rather than on paper in student files were identified

Curriculum Map Revision

The curriculum was reviewed to insure that learning opportunities likely to result in the expected outcomes for students were provided. Syllabi were revised to include the knowledge, skills, and practices to be developed and/or demonstrated in each course and linked to the 2009 Standards.

Counseling programs are by their very nature practice-oriented. Consequently, many of the assessment tools for skills and practices are course-embedded assignments, observations, and field experience ratings. The tool used by the programs to assess knowledge is the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE). The results of these exams are loaded into student details along with the national means in each of the areas tested, allowing for a report that includes the results for UWG counseling programs over time as well as a means for comparing UWG student performance with those of peers in a national sample comprised of 350+ counselor preparation programs.

Clinical Experiences Documentation

The ratings received by students during their field-based practica and internships provide valuable information about students’ demonstration of counseling skills. Additionally, the faculty created an observation form to be completed by university supervisors following each site visit. The data from these forms will be used to provide evidence of consistent involvement with site supervisors and administrators. Additionally, a form used by students to document the number of hours and types of experiences, a counseling log, has been created and added to the field experiences binder. Counseling logs, observation forms, and documentation of site visits had previously been maintained as paper or electronic files by individual faculty for the students they supervised with no aggregation of data for reporting and program improvement efforts.

Systematic Review of Student Progress

Finally, the method of systematically reviewing all students’ progress, an expectation of all CACREP accredited programs, had become cumbersome and largely focused on students who demonstrated clear deficits and inappropriate behaviors. To improve, the faculty revised their systematic review procedure to include reviews at two points during students’ enrollment. During a specially designated faculty meeting each semester, a formal assessment of the progress of students who will have completed 30 credit hours of course work at the beginning of that term will take place. Students’ progress will be reviewed a second time after the completion of 48 credits (CCMHC) or 40 credits (SC) of coursework prior to submitting an application for internship (see Figure 1). The procedure for this review follows:

Step 1: Following the close of drop and add during both fall and spring terms, the program coordinator requests an eligibility report via Tk20@westga.edu to include the following:

  • Student and advisor names and email addresses of students who have earned 30-45 credits and have not been previously reviewed
  • Student and advisor names and email addresses of students who have earned 48 or more credit hours and a) have not been previously reviewed, or b) have only been reviewed one time

Step 2: The program coordinator will convene the Progress Monitoring meeting. Each advisor will lead a brief (2 minutes or >) discussion, based on his/her summary of the materials reviewed for each of his/her advisees. Feedback from faculty will be used to complete the Performance Monitoring Rubric for each student during the meeting. Results will be available to students as soon as the review has been completed.

Step 3 (PM1): Acceptable progress at the first review (30 credits) is determined by rubric scores of 2 or higher in all categories. Any scores of 1 (unacceptable) will immediately result in a professional development plan developed jointly by the student and his/her advisor. The goal of the plan is remediation of problem area when possible. Students who are making unsatisfactory progress in more than one area may be referred to the Student Review Committee.

Step 3 (PM2): Acceptable progress at the second review (48 credits) is determined by rubric scores of 3 or higher in all categories. Any scores of 1 (unacceptable), or more than one score of 2 (developing), will immediately result in a referral to the student review committee and may result in suspension or expulsion from the program.

Conclusion

Personnel assigned to assessment programs in Colleges of Education may provide invaluable assistance to those programs seeking CACREP accreditation by helping faculty understand the strengths and potential of a data management system such as Tk20. The ability to systematize many of the procedures that result in meaningful data for program improvement is far greater than the assessment of student learning outcomes.

Progress Monitoring Procedures

Progress Monitoring #1:

  1. Student completes 30 credits.
  2. Advisors notify students to complete the progress reporting form in Tk20.
  3. Advisor reviews form, student performance on key assessments, and transcripts.
  4. Progressing Monitoring 1: Advisor verbally summarizes student progress and asks for additional feedback from faculty in the three areas of functioning. Summary and feedback are used to complete the Student Progress Rubric in Tk20.
  5. Students access their rubric scores and comments through their Tk20 accounts. If progress is deemed unsatisfactory in any area, the student will meet with the advisor to develop a professional development plan. Students who are making unsatisfactory progress is more than one area may be referred to the student review committee.
  6. All professional development plans will include specified outcomes student will achieve, recommendations for remediation, relevant timelines, and consequences for failure to demonstrate desired improvement.

Progress Monitoring #2:

  1. Student completes 40/48 credits.
  2. Advisors notify students to complete the progress reporting from Tk20.
  3. Advisor reviews form, student performance on key assessments, and transcripts
  4. Progress Monitoring 2: Advisor verbally summarizes student progress and asks for additional feedback from faculty in the three areas of functioning. Summary and feedback are used to complete the Student Progress Rubric in Tk20.
  5. Students access their rubric scores and comments through their Tk20 accounts. If progress is deemed unsatisfactory in any area, or developing in two or more areas, the student will be referred to the student review committee.
  6. All professional development plans will include specified outcomes student will achieve, recommendations for remediation, relevant timelines, and consequences for failure to demonstrate improvement.