Several college accreditation standards revised

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The Executive Board approved revisions to several accreditation standards for veterinary schools and colleges in April. The recommended changes resulted from a review of the 11 accreditation standards by a task force of the AVMA Council on Education and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Their suggestions were modified by the council, then sent to the deans and posted on the AVMA Web site for members for comment. The council considered the subsequent comments, further revised the standards, and sent the resultant version to the deans for comment a second time.

One standard was deleted that required colleges to provide continuing education opportunities. Continuing education is not part of the veterinary curriculum, but rather, an element of postgraduate professional requirements.

To the standard on physical facilities and equipment, a clarifying statement was added to ensure that all hospitals that are part of the program have teaching facilities or can provide the educational experiences necessary to meet the curricular goals. Information about isolation facilities has been condensed to reflect the needs of the teaching program and combined with the other service components. Other changes eliminate redundancies.

In the standard on clinical resources, the language was altered for clarity and brevity while maintaining the expectation for a medical records system adequate to support teaching, research, and service programs. References to the documentation of teaching methods were removed from this standard, because that is evaluated throughout the accreditation process. Those references were moved, along with all other subjects dealing with outcomes assessment, into a proposed new standard on outcomes assessment. The board, however, referred the recommendation for the new outcomes assessment standard back to the council.

To reflect current trends in library management and operation, the board approved a change in title for the standard on library and learning resources to "library and information resources." Revisions to the standard meet the need for libraries and information resources that are print and/or electronically based and are managed by a professional. The standard ensures that the college provides resources to develop instructional materials, should they be needed. Other changes were made for conciseness.

Minor editorial changes were approved for the standard on admissions.

After considerable discussion, the board referred the council's proposed revisions to the standards on organization, finances, students, faculty, curriculum (and outcomes assessment) back to the council. Some board members were concerned because those standards include references to a college's mission statement but do not define what the mission statement must constitute. They were apprehensive of the implication that, as long as the college were to follow the mission statement it had developed—no matter what it was—the college would be in compliance.

District XI board member, Dr. Harmon A. Rogers was among those calling for those six standards to be referred back to the council. "I have a lot of concerns that accredited veterinary education could look a lot different," he said, if the revisions were approved.

In a related recommendation, the board authorized $1,500 for the AVMA Statistical Research Group to survey practitioners, educators, students, and state veterinary associations this fall as part of the process to ensure that the accreditation standards are appropriate for veterinary education and are measuring educational quality. This Standards Requirements Review and Evaluation survey must be conducted every four years to fulfill a requirement of the U.S. Department of Education for recognition of the Council on Education's accreditation process.

Another USDE requirement is the training of accreditation site team members. The department accepts a training video as part of that process. The board approved $3,000 for production of an updated training video for new and novice team members.

The board approved use of the term "accredited" for all schools and colleges—domestic and foreign—that complete the AVMA Council on Education process and comply with its program standards. Formerly, the term "approved" was used to describe the foreign colleges.