Module 6: Other Visits and Summer Commission Meeting

A. Interim Visits and Show Cause Visits

In addition to General Review visits, there are two other types of visits:

  • Interim Visits(IV)
  • Show Cause Visits (SCV)

These reviews are similar to General Reviews, with a few exceptions. These exceptions are discussed in the sections below.

Interim Visits

Interim Visits are similar to General Review visits in logistics, structure, and process. However, Interim Visits are focused on the shortcomings from the previous review. The program evaluators will use the Program Evaluator Worksheet. The Interim Visit Draft Statement reviews each shortcoming from the previous review and evaluates them one-by-one. While the review should be focused on the shortcomings from the previous visit, the possibility exists that new shortcomings unrelated to those issues may surface during the review process.

Besides the usual possible accreditation actions, VE is used in place of NGR when the program has no remaining Deficiencies or Weaknesses.

The materials you need to prepare and submit are similar to that for a General Review visit except that the Draft Statement takes a slightly different form.

Writing the Exit Statement for an Interim Visit

The Interim Visit exit statement consists of the following elements:

  • Introduction
  • Program Shortcomings
    • Deficiencies
    • Weaknesses
    • Concerns
  • Observations

Program shortcoming statements state:

  • Previous finding and criterion/policy
  • Progress since previous review
  • Status of finding

The previous finding and criterion/policy elements summarize the criterion/policy citation, what was observed during the previous review, the effect on the program, and the status after due process. The progress since the previous review describes the progress made by the program and evaluates the strength of its efforts and the evidence provided. Finally, the status of the finding states the current status of the finding (resolved, remains, changes to another level of compliance).

(In the following examples, italicised text identifies the previous finding, bold text; the criterion/policy citation; normal text, the progress since the visit; and underlined text, the current status of the finding.)

Interim Visit Weakness Example: The 2012-2013 review noted that the program had published program educational objectives that were based on the input of only two of the five constituencies identified by the program. The criterion requires that program educational objectives be based on the needs of the program’s constituencies. During the interim visit, the program faculty described a process that is in place that will involve all five program constituencies in active roles in determining the program’s educational objectives. However, the process is not yet complete, since responses from two constituencies have not yet been gathered. The Weakness remains.

In both the General Review and Interim Visit exit statement, the shortcomings are organized primarily by level of compliance and secondarily by criterion. Commission sample IV statements are included in the TC Commission Workbooks.

Show Cause Visits

Show Cause Visits are identical to Interim Visits. The only difference is that the previous visit had one or more Deficiencies, whereas with Interim Visits the previous visit had only Weaknesses and Concerns. However, logistics, structure and process are identical for both types of visits, and the draft statement.

B. Simultaneous and Joint Visits Team

A simultaneous visit is one in which two or more ABET commissions conduct accreditation reviews at the same time. A joint visit is one in which a single program is reviewed by more than one commission (for example, a computer science and engineering program). ABET Headquarters will notify you if you are assigned to serve as team chair for a simultaneous or joint visit and provide you with the name and contact information of the other team chair(s).

It is critical that you coordinate all visit activities with the other team chair(s), starting with the setting of the visit dates. One of the multiple team chairs should serve as the primary contact with the institution. Responsibility for visit logistics, interviews, etc., can be split according to individual preference. The structure of the visit, forms, and draft statement remain the same as a single commission visit. However, adjustments may need to be made to the opening meeting and exit meeting to accommodate all visit teams. If one or more programs are part of a joint visit, modifications to the team meetings throughout the visit may be needed to accommodate both visit teams.

Please Note: Team chairs serving on simultaneous and joint visits will have an opportunity to meet and work through some of these details at the Summer Commission Meeting. However, since you will be meeting with the institution representative(s) at the Summer Commission Meeting as well, it is highly recommended that you work through visit dates and major responsibilities in advance of the Summer Commission Meeting.

C. Non-Domestic Visits

In addition to conducting accreditation visits at U.S. institutions, ABET now conducts accreditation visits at institutions outside the U.S. There is no difference between U.S. and non-U.S. accreditation; regardless of a program’s location, the accreditation criteria remain the same. However, ABET program evaluators and team chairs must approach each program’s review with a thorough understanding of the educational and cultural environment within which it operates. Educational and cultural environments are different, of course, in different parts of the world. These differences need to be understood for a visit to be successful.

If you are assigned to a non-domestic visit, you and the members of your visit team will be required to complete additional training. Training for Accreditation Visits Outside of U.S. visits may be found here.

D. Interim Report

An Interim Report does not involve a visit. Instead, the team chair reviews an Interim Report that is submitted by the program by July 1 of the year of the review cycle. This report should be sent to you by the institution; if a report is not received by early July, you should contact the institution to obtain a copy of the report.

Note: There are no program evaluators assigned to Interim Report reviews.

You should review the previous Final Statement, provided on the Commissioner Secure Website, to assess the Weaknesses and Concerns associated with the previous review. The previous Final Statement also contains specifications developed by the previous team for items that should be contained within the interim report to address the weaknesses.

Questions regarding the contents of the Interim Report should be directed to the program’s institutional contact.

Once you review the report, you should develop a Draft Statement based on your review. The Draft Statement is very much like an Interim Visit Draft Statement — it enumerates the shortcomings from the previous Final Statement and evaluates the institutional response to each one. You should use the commission Interim Review draft statement template to complete the Draft Statement.

Besides the usual possible accreditation actions, RE is used in place of NGR when the program has no remaining Deficiencies or Weaknesses. In addition to the Draft Statement, the A302 Recommended Action Form should be prepared and submitted.

All Interim Report review materials are due to Editor 1 no later than September 1. The remainder of the due process cycle is identical to that of General Reviews — you will receive feedback from Editors 1 and 2, and the resulting materials are finalized during this process and provided for the following Summer Commission Meeting for final action.

Please Note: That while your review should be focused on the issues within the report, the possibility exists that new shortcomings unrelated to those issues may surface during the review process.

E. What to Expect at the Summer Commission Meeting

The commissions meet each July to review and vote on all accreditation actions, prepare for the next accreditation cycle, and conduct other commission business. All commissioners are expected to participate fully in this meeting. The actual agenda for the meeting varies by commission and according to the number of programs to be considered. Common agenda items that occur in every commission each year include:

  • Review and voting on accreditation actions for reviews conducted during the cycle
  • Orientation of institutional representatives for reviews scheduled for the next cycle
  • Team chair/institutional representative luncheon
  • Commission committee meetings (criteria, forms/documents, training)
  • Training (commission updates, simultaneous/joint visits, non-U.S. visits, etc.)
  • Other commission business

Upon registration at the Summer Commission Meeting, each commissioner will receive materials that include the A302 Recommended Action Forms, Program Audit Forms, and draft Final Statements of all programs visited by the commission during the current cycle. These materials form the basis of the vote on accreditation action for reviews conducted during the cycle. You are expected to review these materials before voting on accreditation actions. The materials will be organized into a “consent agenda” and a “non-consent agenda.” Institutions in which all programs reviewed have a recommended action of NGR, VE, RE, or SE are included in the consent agenda. Institutions for which one or more programs reviewed have a recommended action of IR or IV are included in the non-consent agenda. Institutions with one or more Show Cause recommended actions will be separated out as well. Institutions and programs included in the consent agenda will not be discussed individually unless a commissioner requests that it be removed from the consent agenda. All institutions/programs in the non-consent agenda and any Show Cause programs will be presented to the commission and voted upon individually. The method used to accomplish this will vary by commission.

As team chair you will be asked to represent the visit team and summarize the team’s findings and recommendation. If there is an IV action for one or more of the programs, you will be asked to recommend the number of program evaluators for the next visit. Additionally, if you visited a new program, you will be asked to recommend a beginning date for accreditation for the new program. Institutions/programs that remain in the consent agenda will be voted on as a block.

Please Note: The Commission Executive Committee will provide a presentation format and/or instructions for making this presentation. Please follow the format/instructions as provided for a given cycle; the format/instructions may vary from one year to the next.

All accreditation actions will be reviewed by a commission Consistency Committee. The role of the Consistency Committee is to assure that appropriate and consistent actions are taken. Actions identified as inconsistent by the Consistency Committee are discussed by the entire commission, and a new vote is taken, if appropriate. At the end of the meeting a motion is made to accept all the accreditation actions.

ABET Headquarters will invite institutional representatives from programs to be visited in the upcoming cycle to attend an orientation in preparation for the upcoming visit. The commission Executive Committee will lead this orientation. Team chairs will be expected to attend as well so all hear the same presentation. This will either precede or follow a luncheon where institutional representatives and team chairs are paired together at tables to discuss timing and logistics of the visit. If you are assigned to two visits, ABET Headquarters will assign the institutional representatives from both institutions to the same table with you. It is recommended that you cover general visit timing and logistics with both sets of institutional representatives and make arrangements to talk to each set separately at another time during the day. You should have the visit dates identified by the Summer Commission Meeting so the discussions should be more centered on visit logistics and answering questions regarding the process and materials.

Each commission has several standing committees that work throughout the year to support the business of the commission. These standing committees include: criteria, forms/documents, and training. The committees will meet before, during, and/or after the Summer Commission Meeting. The commissions may also establish task groups to focus on a strategic need. These task groups may also meet before, during, and/or after the Summer Commission Meeting. The standing committees and/or task groups may bring items before the commission for review and vote during the Summer Commission Meeting.

Last, each commission will take the opportunity while everyone is face-to-face to communicate changes to the criteria, policy, and forms, and to provide training on common issues from the previous cycle. The commission training committee is responsible for developing and delivering this training. All commissioners are expected to fully participate in these training sessions. ABET Staff may also offer one or more plenary sessions during joint commission breakfasts to communicate activities at ABET Headquarters and to recognize those that have served on cross commission task groups or committees during the past year.

F. Summary of Module 6

As a team chair, you are committing to a significant amount of work in service to your profession. It is, however, an opportunity to develop your leadership, communication, and organizational skills. In addition, it is an opportunity to work with and get to know others in your profession with whom you would not have had the opportunity otherwise. Work hard; but, enjoy your time as a Commissioner.