NCRA addresses recent ACICS failed appeal

jcr-publications_high-resAccreditation is a status granted to an institution that meets or exceeds the stated criteria of educational quality. The purpose of accreditation is to assess and enhance the educational quality of an institution, to assure consistency in institutional operations, to promote institutional improvement, and to provide for public accountability.

Accrediting organizations such as the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) certify institutions that offer programs in professional, technical, and occupational fields, through the master’s degree level, and are recognized by both the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

NCRA is concerned for all of its schools that hold accreditation by the ACICS in light of the group’s recent loss of appeal at the federal level. That appeal sought a temporary ruling to allow ACICS to maintain its status as a DOE recognized accrediting organization. A motion for a preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 1.

NCRA understands the concerns and frustrations this decision has created for many students and faculty members enrolled in or associated with its certified and participating schools that hold the ACICS accreditation. The following is intended to clarify NCRA’s interpretation of the ACICS decision.

All ACICS-accredited schools were required to sign a new Provisional Program Participation Agreement (PPPA), which allows them the opportunity to become accredited by an alternative accrediting body within 18 months, if they choose.

It is important to note that each state’s Department of Education has different rules and regulations that pertain to the ACICS decision. Equally important is that a school that may eventually lose its accreditation status or not seek an alternative accreditor cannot be forced to close and may choose to remain open. Students at these schools should contact their administrator immediately with questions pertaining to their accreditation status.

If the school you currently attend or the school you are considering attending is ACICS accredited, here are some questions you should ask:

  • Will the school be seeking an alternative accrediting agency?
  • Will the school be permitted by the state Board of Education to continue as normal during the 18 months?
  • How will the school notify students of any changes?
  • What percentage of credits must be earned from the school if I plan to transfer, attend, and graduate?
  • Will my prior learning credits transfer (technical and general)?
  • Do I have to be admitted to the program before a complete review of my transfer credits can occur?
  • Is there an appeals process I can undertake if my credits won’t transfer?
  • I’ve been attending a brick-and-mortar school.  If I choose to attend an online program, how will the school help me transition to online learning? Does the school prepare me to take NCRA certification exams?
  • If the school elects not to pursue an alternative accreditor or does not obtain accreditation within the allowable 18 months, will the school continue to operate without accreditation?

Rest assured that during this difficult transition, NCRA is here for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind while planning your strategy moving forward:

  • Don’t give up; NCRA and your state associations are here to help you!
  • Keep up your regular practice schedule to maintain speed.
  • Check the NCRA school list and review your options.
  • Contact NCRA or your state association to put you in touch with a mentor.
  • Surround yourself with a positive support system to avoid discouragement and frustration.
  • Don’t feel pressured to make a rushed financial decision (i.e., consolidation).
  • Find answers to questions pertaining to discharge of federal student loans here.
  • Review recommendations from ACICS on what to do when your campus closes.
  • Ask questions, gather information, and read reviews from any subsequent school in which you plan to enroll.

“Our students are our future, and we are committed to ensuring that high-quality court reporting and captioning educational programs are available to all who are currently on this career path as well as others who potentially choose it. We encourage those students who have been affected by the recent closure of Sage College to remain focused and committed to their goals,” said NCRA President Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS. “Know that you can turn to NCRA as your support system to help you successfully navigate through this trying time in your journey to reach your professional dreams.”

NCRA places a high value on its students and schools and the quality of education its certified and participating programs provide. Your Association is committed to your success and stands at the ready to assist in any way possible during these difficult times. Feel free to contact NCRA’s Schools Department at schools@ncra.org or 800-272-6272 if you have questions or concerns.