Format of the Commissioner Visit
The third commissioner visit is to be conducted in-person for all programs, with the exception of online-only programs.
The third commissioner visit is conducted virtually for online-only programs. Online-only programs are those that offer a sole online program option. Online program option is defined in policy 1.2.4 Program Changes as a majority (51% or more) of the social work curriculum delivered online. Online-only programs may request an in-person visit in lieu of a virtual visit. Expectations are consistent for both in-person and virtual visit formats.
Commission Visitor Arrival
During the first evening the commission visitor works alone to prepare for the visit. The program director may meet with the commission visitor to extend a brief welcome, explain the schedule, answer any questions, and outline the arrangements to escort him or her to the campus. During the commissioner visit, evenings are reserved for the commission visitor to work on the Benchmark III Review Brief and prepare for the exit interview. No social events should be planned for the commission visitor.
Meeting With the Institutional Administrators
The commissioner visit should begin with a meeting with the institution’s chief executive officer and other institutional administrators. The program director should escort the commission visitor to the office of the chief executive officer of the institution and, after introductions, permit the commission visitor to meet alone with the chief executive officer. The purpose of this meeting is to explain the accreditation process, learn more about the role and place of the program within the institution’s system, and answer questions from the president or chancellor. When it is impossible to meet with the institution’s chief executive officer, it is acceptable to meet with his or her designee.
Meetings With the Social Work Program
The schedule may also include meetings with the program director, faculty members, the director of the field practicum, field instructors, students, librarians, and other individuals whose presence is relevant (such as of faculty concerned with ethnic or gender issues) to Benchmark III.
The COA does not require or recommend dismissing classes during the commissioner visit. It is expected that the schedule be planned to permit participation by all constituents without disrupting the academic schedule.
If the program provides additional information to the commission visitor during the visit, three copies of those materials must be sent to the program’s accreditation specialist or associate.
The commission visitor holds an exit interview, open to the people who met with the commission visitor during the visit (institutional administrators, program leadership, faculty, students, and other constituencies) to convey the findings that will be in the Benchmark III Review Brief. The commission visitor then invites the participants to ask questions, comment on the findings, and/or correct any inaccuracies.
The commission visitor may respond to questions but not make judgments of whether the program is in compliance with the educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, because that judgment rests with the COA. The commission visitor should remind the program that the findings, along with the program’s response to the Benchmark III Review Brief, are reviewed by COA before a decision is made about compliance. The commission visitor should explicitly inform the institution and program that the COA will notify them of its decision about program compliance and concerns, and that it is possible that the COA’s analysis will differ from that of the commission visitor.
After the visit has concluded, contact between the program and commission visitor should end. If the program has additional questions or comments after the visit, the program should contact its accreditation specialist.