National Recognition of State Approval Agencies by the U.S. Secretary of Education
The U.S. Secretary of Education also recognizes two categories of State agencies:
- State agencies for the approval of public postsecondary vocational education, and
- State agencies for the approval of nurse education.
Public Postsecondary Vocation Education
The criteria and procedures used by the Secretary in designating a State agency as a reliable authority concerning the quality of public postsecondary vocational education in a State are contained in Part 603 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Those State agencies that have requested recognition and have been determined to meet the established criteria are granted recognition for a period not to exceed four years. The Secretary publishes a list of those State agencies that he recognizes as reliable authorities.
The criteria and procedures used by the Secretary in designating a State agency as a reliable authority concerning the quality of training offered by schools of nursing in a State are contained in regulations published in the January 16, 1969 FEDERAL REGISTER. Those State agencies that have requested recognition and have been determined to meet the established criteria are granted recognition for a period not to exceed four years. The Secretary publishes a list of those State agencies that he recognizes as reliable authorities.
The Recognition Process for State Agencies
The recognition procedures following by the Secretary in reviewing State approval agencies are the same as those for accrediting agencies seeking recognition by the Secretary. These procedures are set forth in detail in subpart B of part 602. Other information related to a State agency's application for recognition is provided below.
The Application for Recognition
State approval agencies desiring to be recognized by the Secretary of Education must apply for recognition and must demonstrate their compliance with the Criteria for Secretarial Recognition. An agency's application for recognition generally consists of evidence of the agency's compliance with the criteria for recognition and supporting documentation.
There is no standard application form to be used by agencies applying for recognition. Rather, an agency's application for initial recognition or renewal of recognition consists of a narrative statement, organized on a criterion-by- criterion basis, showing how the agency complies with the Criteria for Secretarial Recognition. The narrative statement must be accompanied by clearly referenced supporting documentation, including the agency's standards and procedures, published lists of approved schools or programs, self-evaluation guidelines, guidance materials for visiting team members, and sample completed self-evaluations and site visit reports, as appropriate to the criteria used.
Copies of the Application
An agency's application plus three copies should be submitted to the Accrediting Agency Evaluation unit (AAE) at the address below. Only the original of bulkier exhibit items, such as self-study reports or team reports, need be submitted with the petition; there is no need for three copies of these items.
Accrediting Agency Evaluation
U.S. Department of Education
1990 K Street, NW, #7126
Washington, DC 20006-K-OPE-8-8065
Telephone: (202) 219-7011
Time Frame for Submission of an Application
AAE accepts applications for initial recognition at any time. To receive consideration at a particular meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, an agency seeking initial recognition must submit its petition at least six months in advance of that meeting. Consideration of the agency's petition at the first Advisory Committee meeting that occurs after the six-month time frame is not guaranteed, however, as AAE staff may need more to complete its independent evaluation of the agency.
Agencies considering applying for initial recognition are encouraged to contact AAE as early as possible to discuss their possible application and to afford Department staff the opportunity to observe several agency site visits and decision meetings.
Agencies that have been granted recognition by the Secretary are notified by the Secretary, each time recognition is granted or renewed, of the expiration date of their recognition period. They should plan to submit their application for renewal of recognition approximately six months in advance of the spring or fall meeting of the Advisory Committee meeting that precedes that expiration date. AAE usually notifies agencies a year in advance of the Advisory Committee at which their renewal application is to be considered and informs them of the date by which their application is due to AAE. In the same notice, AAE also requests a schedule of the agencies' site visits and decision meetings for the upcoming year in order to plan its observation of at least some of those activities.
Staff Analysis of an Agency's Application
The application review process conducted by the Department of Education includes analysis of the application and observation of some of the agency's site visit and decision-making activities by Department staff. Staff members may also visit agency administrative offices to conduct interviews of agency staff and to review the agency's facilities, records and administrative operations. They may also conduct interviews or surveys of other persons, organizations, or institutions concerning the applicant agency's approval process in order to obtain further information relating to the agency's compliance with the Criteria. Department staff then prepares a written analysis of the agency's application for recognition.
Hearing Before the Advisory Committee
When Department staff completes its evaluation of an agency's application for recognition, the agency's application is placed on the agenda of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. Department staff also provides the Advisory Committee with the agency's application and supporting documentation, its analysis of the application, all information it relied upon in developing the analysis, any response by the agency to the analysis or third-party comment, any Department concurrence with or rebuttal to the agency's response, and any third-party information the Secretary receives regarding the agency.
The Advisory Committee meets at least twice a year to review petitions from accrediting and State approval agencies. The usual times for the Committee meetings are spring (May-June) and fall (November-December). Although each member of the Advisory Committee receives every Department staff analysis of an application for recognition and all the other materials mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the Executive Director of the Advisory Committee usually assigns two or more Committee members to serve as principal readers for each application.
An agency that applies for recognition is invited to make an oral presentation before the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee also hears oral presentations from Department staff and from third parties who request to be heard.
The Advisory Committee conducts its business in public, and a transcript of the proceedings is made.
The Secretary's Decision
The Secretary of Education makes the final decision regarding recognition or renewal of recognition of a State agency. Agencies may be granted initial recognition or renewal of recognition for a period of up to four years.
The Secretary's list of recognized State agencies is published periodically in the FEDERAL REGISTER.