CVTEA Accreditation Policies and Procedures - Operating Procedure

Last Update to this Section: July 2013

VI. Standard Operating Procedure for Accreditation of Programs Educating Veterinary Technicians

The AVMA accreditation of veterinary technology programs is voluntary. Expenses incurred for a site visit are the responsibility of the program. Consultation prior to application is encouraged and available by contacting the AVMA Division of Education and Research at 800/248-2862 ext. 6624 www.avma.org and the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators (AVTE) at www.avte.net.

A. Standard Operating Procedure for Initial Accreditation of Veterinary Technology Programs

Veterinary technology programs seeking initial accreditation should submit an Application prior to the enrollment of students.

Veterinary technology programs seeking initial AVMA CVTEA accreditation are required to provide the following on the CVTEA Application and Material Review Form available from AVMA staff:

1. Initial Program Application

  1. Prior to the enrollment of students, the program director (or Academic Dean) should file an Application (Appendix E) that includes:
    1. Identification of institution offering program
    2. Evidence of Institutional accreditation
    3. Rationale for program
    4. Membership roster and charge of Advisory Committee
    5. Date a program director will be hired
    6. Date full-time equivalent veterinarian and full-time equivalent credentialed veterinary technician will be on staff*.
    7. A $3,000 (non-refundable) application fee.
  2. AVMA staff will confirm receipt of initial application within 10 days of receipt and a tentative site visit date will be chosen. Confirmation of the site visit date will be granted upon approval of items requested in Step 2 below.

* The expectation is that the FTE licensed veterinarian and credentialed veterinary technician will be on staff prior to the enrollment of students to allow adequate time for curriculum development and course preparation. A program director, who is a licensed veterinarian, or a credentialed veterinary technician, who is a graduate of an AVMA or CVMA accredited program must be in place at the time of the initial application for accreditation.

2. Initial Review

  1. Prior to student enrollment in veterinary technology specific coursework, the program must submit the following information:
    1. Date students were first enrolled and anticipated date of first graduating class
    2. List of program faculty with date of hire and credentials
    3. Program curriculum outline with suggested course sequence and descriptions
    4. Description of facility to be used for primary clinical instruction
    5. An example of standardized criteria used for evaluation of student acquisition of essential skills
    6. A description of how student acquisition of essential skills will be evaluated and documented
    7. A description of clinical resources available to the program (Standard V)
  2. Prior to animal use in program coursework, the Program must submit the following:
    1. Membership of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC),
    2. Example of an IACUC-approved animal care and use protocol, and
    3. Copy of recent IACUC meeting minutes.

3. Confirmation of Acceptance of Initial Application
Information received from the program will be reviewed by AVMA staff. If it appears that the program is making appropriate progress toward significantly meeting the Standards of Accreditation, AVMA staff will confirm a mutually agreed upon site visit date. Classes must be in session during the site visit evaluation. An initial accreditation site visit is usually conducted when the initial class has completed approximately two-thirds of the curriculum. A self-study report will be due no later than 8 weeks prior to the site visit

4. The Program must then meet the criteria and follow the steps outlined in the Standard Operating Procedures for an Accreditation Site Visit in Section VI part C.

INITIAL REVIEW OF THE PROGRAM AND SCHEDULING OF A SITE VISIT IS NOT A GUARANTEE OF ACCREDITATION NOR DOES IT GRANT ANY TEMPORARY ACCREDITATION STATUS.

B. Standard Operating Procedures for Re-accreditation of Veterinary Technology Programs

1. Programs due for re-accreditation are notified of a required site visit approximately one year in advance. Programs should contact AVMA staff to schedule a mutually agreed upon site visit time. Classes must be in session during the site visit evaluation. A self-study report for programs seeking re-accreditation is due 6 weeks prior to the site visit.

C. Standard Operating Procedures for an Accreditation Site Visit (Initial or Re-accreditation)

1. The program will submit copies of a self-evaluation report (Appendix G) (see also format guidelines in Appendix F) and copies of the college catalog to the site team members, and an electronic copy of the self-evaluation report to AVMA according to the deadlines outlined above for either an initial program or re-accreditation. If computer limitations prevent all appendices from being sent electronically, the program should indicate which items have been omitted.

2. The self-evaluation report is reviewed by the AVMA for major deficiencies or any other needed clarification. If no major deficiency is apparent, the site visit date is finalized.

3. An evaluation team is formed. The evaluation team consists of five members: a chair who is a CVTEA member or past CVTEA member who has completed their term within the previous three years, a veterinarian who is a member of the state veterinary medical association, a veterinary technician, a public member, and an AVMA staff member. AVMA staff is responsible for identifying the CVTEA member and securing the state VMA member. The program director is responsible for providing the names, addresses, phone, and email information of the public member and the veterinary technician as follows:

 

  1. The name of an individual willing to serve as the public member must be submitted. The public member may not be associated with the College and may not be a veterinarian or a technician or serve on the program's advisory committee. Submitted name should include a brief background.
  2. The veterinary technician member must be a graduate of an AVMA-accredited veterinary technology program and should be chosen by the state technician association, if at all possible. While preferable that the veterinary technician not be a graduate of the program being evaluated, a graduate may be accepted if graduates of other programs are not available. The technician cannot be a member of the program's advisory committee.
  3. To ensure that all matters dealing with accreditation of programs of veterinary technology are conducted in an unbiased manner, the CVTEA has adopted the following Conflict of Interest Policy:

    The site team member:
    • is not currently associated with the program being evaluated.
    • is not employed by the program being evaluated.
    • is not a member of the advisory council of the program being evaluated.
    • will reveal any potential conflict of interest to the site team (including having graduated from the program being evaluated or provided consultation on accreditation matters with the program being evaluated).

      Potential conflicts of interest revealed to the entire team may not preclude service on the site team if the team agrees the individual can serve in an unbiased manner.
  4. The program to be evaluated may comment on the membership of the evaluation team after it has been formed and may ask for a change in site team members. Such change must include reasons for this request and take place early enough for a replacement to be found.

4. AVMA staff will write a first draft report based on the self-evaluation materials and send the draft Report of Evaluation to the evaluation team.

5. The site visit evaluation is conducted. The site visit will be structured to include sites where clinical and/or technical instruction is provided. The evaluation team will:

  1. Interview the program director.
  2. Inspect physical facilities, equipment, and library.
  3. Interview faculty members and staff.
  4. Review curriculum and course outlines.
  5. Interview students.
  6. Consult privately to review findings.
  7. Report findings to program director.
  8. Report findings to institutional administration.
  9. Prepare a written report of site visit.
  10. Sign an AVMA CVTEA confidentiality agreement (Section II)

6. After the site visit, a second draft Report of Evaluation will be prepared by AVMA staff and distributed to the evaluation team for review and appropriate changes.

7. A third draft Report of Evaluation will be submitted to the program director of the institution for verification and comment. If the third draft ROE contains critical and/or major recommendations, these findings may result in an adverse decision upon review by the full committee. An adverse decision is defined as withholding initial or renewed accreditation, denial of a request for change of accreditation status, or the granting of less than full accreditation status once full accreditation status has been granted. The program must notify AVMA staff of the intent to respond to the critical and/or major recommendations within ten (10) business days after receipt of the third draft report of evaluation and file its response with the committee within twenty (20) business days after receipt of the third draft report of evaluation. The Program's response must only include documentation, data, or other information relevant to critical and/or major recommendations identified in the ROE that may result in an adverse accreditation decision. The Committee reserves the right to conduct a special site visit, as needed, to validate information submitted for reconsideration.

8. The site team chair will present a final draft Report of Evaluation, the program's response, if any, and site visit information to the CVTEA at the earliest possible regular meeting. Reports from site visits conducted less than 60 days prior to a CVTEA meeting may be deferred and considered at the next Committee meeting. AVMA staff will provide information about the specific dates for consideration of a particular report.

If the Committee develops additional critical and/or major recommendations not presented to the program in paragraph 7, then it will defer the accreditation decision, give written notice to the program of each critical and major recommendation, and provide the program with an opportunity to respond in writing. The program must notify the Committee of its intent to respond to these additional critical and/or major recommendations within ten (10) business days after receipt of the final draft report of evaluation and file its response with the committee within twenty (20) business days after receipt of the final draft report of evaluation.

The Committee will consider the written response and documentation sent by the program within forty (40) business days of receipt. The Committee reserves the right to conduct a special site visit, as needed, to validate information submitted for reconsideration. Should an adverse accreditation decision be made the program will be notified in writing of the reasons for the action and reminded of the appeal process.

After opportunities to respond in writing or appeal have passed or the processes completed, the action of the Committee is considered final and a final report of evaluation is prepared.

9. CVTEA will determine the accreditation status of the program based on a majority vote of CVTEA members.

10. AVMA staff will notify the program director and chief executive officer of the institution of the program's assigned status and provide a final Report of Evaluation with recommendations for improvement. Recommendations and final reports of site visits are considered private communication between CVTEA and the institution involved. Release of reports shall be at the discretion of the institution. AVMA will notify the state veterinary medical association of the assigned accreditation status of the program.

11. AVMA staff will include the program on its published list of accredited programs after a 30-day period for potential appeals.

12. The evaluation process is repeated at five year intervals until a program has been fully accredited for two cycles, after which time site visits are conducted at six-year intervals. Major changes or concerns can also precipitate site visits.

13. All site visit participants are required to sign an AVMA CVTEA confidentiality agreement. (Section II, page 2)

14. Programs are responsible for all costs associated with the accreditation process including the site visit. 

Subsequent Reporting

Subsequent to receiving initial accreditation, programs are required to submit annual evaluation reports until the program has been accredited for five years. Please refer to Appendix J for the annual/biennial/interim report format. Programs are assigned to either a spring or fall reporting schedule.
 

CVTEA will review the annual report at its next meeting and and if the Committee finds that a program has not made sufficient progress on critical and/or major recommendations or other issues which may result in an adverse accreditation decision, it will follow the procedures set forth above in paragraph 8 and will provide written notice to the program of critical and/or major recommendation or other issues, and provide the program with an opportunity to respond in writing. The program must notify the Committee of its intent to respond within ten (10) business days after receipt of the report evaluation letter and file its response with the Committee within twenty (20) business days of receipt of the report evaluation letter. The CVTEA member who manages the program and CVTEA chair or vice chair will review any submissions and recommend committee action on accreditation status within forty (40) business days of the receipt of the response from the program. The recommendations and program submissions will be electronically copied to all CVTEA members for comment. Each member has the right to request full committee deliberation and vote. If at the end of 72 hours no requests for full committee deliberation have been made, the recommendation of the designated reviewers will be final and the program will be notified. If full committee deliberation is requested, the committee will vote. Following review, AVMA staff will report its decision to the program director, chief executive office of the school, the state VMA, and other appropriate agencies

A program that has been fully accredited for five consecutive years, and has again been granted full accreditation status after a second complete evaluation and site visit, shall be required to submit biennial reports and shall be subject to a complete re-evaluation every six years unless major changes in the program indicate to CVTEA that an earlier site visit may be necessary.

Programs are placed on either a spring or fall annual or biennial reporting schedule. Reports are due for review approximately 60 days prior to the scheduled CVTEA meeting. AVMA staff will announce when reports are due at least six months in advance of the due date. The CVTEA reserves the right to lower the accreditation of a program that, after due notice, fails to submit a self-evaluation, annual, biennial, or interim report. Subsequent accreditation will be considered only after submission of application for accreditation, self-evaluation and other accreditation materials, followed by a site visit to the program. Based on the progress noted in an annual or biennial report, the CVTEA may request an appearance of a program representative at its next regularly scheduled meeting. The cost for such an appearance will be borne by the respective program/parent institution.

Substantive changes in the program must be reported within sixty days of implementation. This report must document how the program will continue to comply with the Standards. Failure to meet any reporting requirement may result in administrative probation or other changes in accreditation status. 

Substantive Change

The CVTEA must be notified of any of the following changes in the program within 60 days of implementation:
 
  1. Change in the established mission or objective of the program.
  2. Change in the legal status, form of control, or ownership of the parent college.
  3. Change in administration (including change of Program Director, primary Program faculty, Dean, and College President), organization, association with the parent institution or Program instructional personnel.
  4. Changes in courses that represent a significant departure in either content or method of delivery.
  5. Changes in name of degree or addition of any degree or credential level offered.
  6. Changes in the clock hours (student contact hours) for completion.
  7. Changes in off-campus sites that provide primary instructional support where essential skills are taught and evaluated.
  8. Any USDA non-compliance report and subsequent action.
  9. Other changes that affect teaching/education of students.
  10. Changes in general contact information including email, phone, and name changes.

Approval of substantive changes is at the discretion of the CVTEA based upon the information received and continued compliance with the standards. A site visit may be required to verify the reported substantive changes.

Accreditation may be withdrawn from a program that fails to provide a report of self-evaluation at least 6 weeks before a scheduled site visit; fails to provide an annual, biennial, or requested interim report by the published due date prior to the CVTEA meeting at which the program is to be reviewed; or fails to invite a site visit at the required time.

A program for which accreditation has been withdrawn may apply for accreditation after one year by submitting a report of self evaluation and other accreditation forms, requesting a site visit, and demonstrating that it meets the Standards of Accreditation. 

Initial Accreditation and Adverse Accreditation Decisions

All programs achieving initial accreditation are assigned the status of Provisional accreditation for the first five years of accreditation. Provisional accreditation is an accredited status and is not punitive nor is it considered an inferior status. A program that fails to meet the requirements for full accreditation after five consecutive years of provisional accreditation shall be placed on probationary accreditation or have accreditation withdrawn. Programs assigned less than full accreditation status shall be immediately notified of the actions necessary to achieve full accreditation. 
 

Programs with probationary accreditation must show annual progress toward achieving full accreditation and meet the requirements for full accreditation within a two-year period. Full accreditation may be sought at any time by providing evidence in a self-evaluation and re-accreditation report, showing that the program has complied with the recommendations related to the program's accreditation status. Those recommendations are contained in the Report of Evaluation. Subsequent to receipt of the report, a site visit by an evaluation team may be required.

Programs have the right to appeal adverse accreditation decisions. The CVTEA will notify the appropriate credentialing agencies and the public within thirty days of any final adverse accreditation decision. Programs may reapply for accreditation one year after accreditation has been withdrawn. Please refer to the Procedures for Appeal of Adverse Decisions on Accreditation (Section IX). 

Reporting to the Community

Following the final decision regarding the accreditation status of a program, the CVTEA will notify the program director, chief executive officer of the school, the state VMA, state credentialing authorities, and other appropriate agencies of its decision. The public will be notified via the AVMA website.
When the accreditation decision is finalized, each program must notify the public of its performance in educating veterinary technicians by posting on its website 1) the three-year pass rate (based on a July 1 to June 30 reporting year) on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE); 2) the number of eligible first –time candidates and the number of first-time candidates that have taken the VTNE, for the corresponding time frame as the reported VTNE pass rate. Information released to the public must be readily accessible and accurate.
 
Any reference by an institution or program to CVTEA accreditation may state the following: "[Identification of program] is accredited (or fully accredited) by the AVMA as a program for educating veterinary technicians." Programs that have had an initial application accepted, may state that an application for accreditation has been accepted but must also state that application for accreditation does not guarantee accreditation and that applying for accreditation does not grant any temporary status of accreditation. 

 

Accreditation Fees

In addition to costs associated with site visits, new programs are assessed an application fee of $3,000. A $600 annual accreditation fee is invoiced to all AVMA-accredited programs to cover the costs of maintaining accreditation. This annual accreditation fee will be deferred until the year following the initial accreditation decision. Failure to pay the annual accreditation fee by July 1 of the assessed calendar year will result in a $500 penalty fee. Programs with unpaid annual accreditation fees as of October 1 of the year due may result in Administrative probation. Administrative Probationary accreditation may result in a penalty fee up to double the annual accreditation fee. Programs are responsible for all costs associated with conducting the site visit.

 

Programs reapplying for accreditation following an initial site visit will be assessed a reapplication fee equal to the amount of the application fee.

Participation of Site Visit Observers

As a principal goal of accreditation is to improve educational outcomes, it is recognized that observation of the practices of the CVTEA as they conduct veterinary technology accreditation site visits is of value to certain individuals. To facilitate this process, the following guidelines have been established.
Observers are welcome to participate in CVTEA site visits if the following conditions are met.

1. Each Observer must be a(n):
  1. Recently appointed CVTEA member
  2. Newly appointed director of an accredited veterinary technology program or the Program director of a non-accredited veterinary technology program.
  3. Other individuals who may benefit from observation of the accreditation site visit. CVTEA will determine if appropriate to observe.

2. The chairperson of the site team and the Program director of the host institution must agree to each proposed observer.

3. A maximum of two observers (from all sources) may be accommodated on each site visit. Observers will be selected on a first come, first served basis within the constraints of the priority list in Item 1 (see above).

4. The observer may be recused from sessions that the site team chairperson considers confidential.

5. Observer requirements

All Observers must;
  1. Arrange to pay the full costs of their participation in the site visit.
  2. Arrange for personal hotel accommodations and transportation to the site visit.
  3. Assume full liability for personal safety during the visit.
  4. Be competent in spoken and written English.
  5. Sign a CVTEA confidentiality statement.
  6. Sign a CVTEA conflict of interest statement
  7. Prepare for the site visit by reading information provided.
  8. Be cognizant that the role is as an observer.