Commission on Accreditation (CoA) Update November 2011

Richard Seime, PhD

Joyce Illfelder-Kaye, PhD
Associate Chair, Program Review

Elizabeth Klonoff, PhD
Associate Chair, Quality Assurance

Fall CoA Meeting Program Actions

The Commission on Accreditation (CoA) held its last meeting of the year on October 20-23, 2011, at the APA building in Washington, DC. CoA reviewed 73 doctoral, internship, & postdoctoral residency programs for initial & continued accreditation, as well as 11 requests for change in accredited status. The program actions taken at this meeting are available on the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation (OPCA) website, and program listings have also been updated.

In addition to full program reviews, CoA reviewed all accredited programs’ annual report submissions as part of the annual reaffirmation of accredited programs, consistent with Implementing Regulation (IR) D.4-7(a). Annual report submissions include both the Annual Report Online (ARO) as well as any narrative responses requested during the past year. CoA has contacted all programs that did not fully complete the 2011 ARO within the original 5-month time frame (April-September). These programs have been granted one final opportunity to complete the ARO, which must be done prior to January 8, 2012. As a reminder to all programs, in accordance with section 2.3 of the Accreditation Operating Procedures, failure to fully complete the ARO each year may result in the program being deemed to have withdrawn from accredited status.

For doctoral programs, the review of ARO data also included analysis of program outcomes as identified in IR D.4-7(b). Consistent with the procedures outlined in IR D.4-7(a), CoA has requested the outlier programs explain their data and outline a plan to ameliorate the difficulty.

Reminder: All IRs are available on the front page of the OPCA website (under "Criteria and Procedures"), presented by relevant Section. All IRs have recently been reorganized and updated to improve users’ ability to navigate through them.

Members Completing Terms of Service

Five members of CoA will end their terms of service at the close of 2011. CoA is grateful to these members for their dedicated service to quality assurance in psychology education.

  • Lawrence Cohen, PhD

  • Raymond Crossman, PhD

  • Nancy Elman, PhD

  • Marlyne Kilbey, PhD

  • Wayne Siegel, PhD

CoA Leadership 2012

During the fall meeting, CoA held its annual elections for the three Commission leadership positions. The responsibilities of each position are outlined in IR E.2-3. The individuals elected by CoA to serve in these roles for 2012 are:

  • Elizabeth Klonoff, PhD: CoA Chair

  • Carl Paternite, PhD: Associate Chair, Program Review

  • Joyce Illfelder-Kaye, PhD: Associate Chair, Quality Assurance

CoA Meeting Dates 2012

  • February 1
    New Member Training (DC)

  • February 2-5
    Annual Policy Meeting (DC)

  • March 22-25
     Spring Program Review Meeting

  • July 19-22
    Summer Program Review Meeting

  • October 18-21
    Fall Program Review Meeting

Impending Changes to the Operating Procedures

At its fall meeting, CoA reviewed the public comments on the proposed changes to the Accreditation Operating Procedures. The two comments received expressed concern regarding the shortened timeframe to a program’s revocation of accreditation, especially for internship programs. Although all programs will still have the same opportunity through the preliminary review, site visit, and show cause processes to remedy any identified deficiencies prior to a probation decision, CoA shares the concerns raised regarding the impact of the new potential timeline from probation to revocation – and in fact discussed this issue at length with the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) at the time of its June 2011 review. However, in order for CoA to maintain its recognition by USDE, it is required that these timelines be implemented (see discussion of this item in the August CoA Update for further detail). As such, CoA voted to send the changes forward to the APA Board of Directors. If approved, the new procedures will be effective beginning January 1, 2012.

Note: The new review procedures and decision options outlined in sections 4.2 through 4.4 will be effective for all programs except those currently on “accredited, on probation” status or those deferred for cause prior to January 2012; these programs will be reviewed under the current Procedures.

CoA 5-Year Summary Report

For a number of years, CoA published an annual report that included the data collected from accredited programs’ ARO data. For a variety of resource reasons, that document has not been published for several years. The OPCA has compiled a summary report that illustrates the trends and changes in accredited programs over the past 5 years, including the size of programs at each level. The report also includes a summary of all of the major policy initiatives over this important 5-year period, including the transition from a Committee to a Commission on Accreditation. The report is currently on-schedule for production in late December, and will be mailed to all accredited programs and site visitors in early 2012.

Reminders for Accredited Programs

Doctoral Programs — Review & Update C-20 Data

As a reminder, IR C-20 requires that all doctoral programs update their education and training outcomes on their websites by October 1 of each year. OPCA staff will be reviewing program websites prior to CoA’s February meeting to determine adherence to this policy. CoA urges ALL programs to ensure their websites have been updated for the most recent year, and to carefully review the requirements of IR C-20 to ensure that the information is being provided in the correct format. Some of the most common errors noted by OPCA staff in last year’s review were:

  • If more than one accredited program in department/university, unclear which data apply to which program

  • Data are one or more years out of date

  • All information is not located in a single place

  • All information is located more than one click away from the program’s home page

  • The information does not have correct title

  • Costs: Located in a different place than other information on website; not specific to the accredited program; difficult to understand or interpret

  • Internship Placement: Numbers AND percentages are not provided; missing one or more required categories; calculated incorrectly

  • Attrition: Numbers AND percentages are not provided; not presented in required format

  • Licensure: Calculated incorrectly

Annual Fees Due

Annual fees for all accredited programs are due by December 31, 2011 (note: programs granted initial accreditation at the July or November CoA meetings are exempt from 2011 annual fees). Please call the OPCA (202-336-5979) with any questions regarding payment status.

Notify CoA of Program Director Changes

Please remember to notify the OPCA in writing (by email is fine) there is a change in the program’s training director, and provide the contact information (including the e-mail address) for that individual. If the new director was not previously involved with the program, his/her CV should also be provided for Office records. This is consistent with IR C-19, which requires programs to notify CoA in advance of any substantive changes. This will also ensure that the correct individual(s) for the program is listed in our database and receives all of CoA’s correspondence.

Special Topics Spotlight: How Program Review is Occurring by Matching Models (i.e., Snowbird)


In early 2010, CoA began discussing the recommendations from the Accreditation Summit (“Snowbird”) with respect to the principle of peer review of congruent programs, and the way in which this is actualized through CoA’s program review process. The summer 2010 CoA Update announced to the public that: “CoA is initiating procedures that ensure that one of the CoA reviewers for each program will have knowledge or experience consistent with the program’s substantive area and model (doctoral programs) and level and type of training (doctoral, internship and postdoctoral programs)” (emphases added). The CoA Update further stated that, “CoA is in the process of closely examining each Commissioner’s ability to serve as a “matched” reviewer with various types of training programs and models, and will report further progress on this initiative when it is available.” This article provides an update on that progress.


The first step in ensuring that reviewers were appropriately matched to programs was to determine what exactly constituted a “match.” Following the CoA’s July 2010 meeting, all CoA members were asked to report the types of programs (broken down by level of training, substantive or specialty area, and training model) for which they felt they were able to provide peer review. Further, CoA members were asked to provide their rationale for each selection.

After conducting an audit of these responses, the CoA Chair & Associate Chairs determined that although this was a useful pilot-test, self-report did not appear to be a reliable method of determining “knowledge or experience.” To that extent, the CoA’s Executive Committee developed a set of more objective criteria for having knowledge or experience that would qualify CoA members to serve as a model match for the review of the four largest types of doctoral programs (Clinical PhD, Clinical PsyD, Counseling, School), internships, and traditional or specialty post-doctoral programs. In addition to the objective criteria, CoA members would also be given the opportunity to provide other information that could serve as a compelling reason for that individual to be considered a “match” to review a program in any area or level.

These criteria were approved by the rest of CoA for implementation in January 2011, at which time all 2011 members of CoA completed a survey. As with the 2010 self-report pilot-test, all surveys were audited by the CoA Chair and Associate Chairs for consistency.

Match Success Rate: 2011

Of the approximately 200 programs reviewed at CoA’s April, July, and October 2011 meetings, almost all had at least one reviewer that served as a match based on knowledge or experience consistent with the program’s substantive area and model (doctoral programs) and level and type of training (doctoral, internship, and postdoctoral programs). Of the programs facing a potentially adverse decision, 100 percent were matched to an appropriately qualified reviewer.

Future Plans

Since CoA membership changes year-to-year, more than one year’s worth of data appear necessary to determine whether the current criteria for determining a reviewer match are working. The same criteria will be used this coming January in surveying all of the 2012 members of CoA. At the conclusion of 2012, a more comprehensive evaluation will look at the two-year success rate in obtaining reviewer “matches,” and how to move forward from there.

*Current Program Counts

Program Type

Accredited Programs

Applicant Programs Under Review






Doctoral Graduate Programs





















Total Doctoral




Internship Programs

Total Internship





Postdoctoral Residency Programs

Traditional — Clinical



Specialty — Clinical Neuropsychology



Specialty — Clinical Health Psychology



Specialty — Clinical Child Psychology



Specialty — Rehabilitation Psychology



Specialty — Forensic Psychology



Total Postdoctoral







*As of November 23, 2011