NASCUS Accreditation

FAQs (frequently asked questions) about the program


Q: Why is it important to be accredited?
A: NASCUS Accreditation provides an independent validation that an agency’s personnel, policies, and processes meet high professional standards.  NASCUS Accreditation involves a comprehensive review of the agency’s operations, including administration and finance, personnel, training, examination, supervision and legislative powers. State agencies that meet these standards are setting themselves apart and improving their reputation in the regulatory arena.

Q: Where can I find general information about accreditation?
A: A summary with general information is available under the NASCUS Accreditation page of the NASCUS website.

Q: What are the costs?
COST OF ON-SITE REVIEW
Each accredited department/agency is subject to re-accreditation on a five year basis with exceptions up to seven years with approval of the Performance Standards Committee. The average costs for the state on-site review is $15,000.
MAINTANCE FEE:
There is an annual maintenance fee charged to cover administration fee which includes; Performance Standards Committee Meetings including Strategic Planning, Program Review Meetings, overhead for NASCUS Staff directly and indirectly, and the Review of the NASCUS Annual Report that is submitted by the accredited state in between the onsite accreditations involved in the Accreditation process. These fees are subject to change.
Current Annual Maintenance Fee:  $2,000

Q: Who sets the standards for accreditation?
A: The NASCUS Performance Standards Committee (PSC) sets the standards for accreditation. The PSC accepts recommendations for changes to the standards from the PSC members, other NASCUS committees, accredited agencies, NASCUS staff and Review Team Members. The PSC meets annually in person and quarterly by conference call to discuss proposed changes to the standards for accreditation.  Recommendations to change the standards require a majority vote of the PSC. Changes to the standards require a phase-in period, so that agencies that have already begun the accreditation or reaccreditation process will not be held to a new higher standard until after this phase-in period.

Q: What is the Performance Standards Committee (PSC)?
A: The Chairman of the PSC is appointed by the NASCUS Board of Directors. Prospective member’s background, NASCUS district, and accreditation status are considered.  PSC members serve terms of four years, with the PSC Chairman serving for two years as Chairman. 

Q: Who are Review Team Members?
A: The group of individuals who perform the on-site review of an agency during the accreditation process is called the Review Team. The Review Team is selected from a pool of individuals who have been approved to serve on the Review Teams by the PSC. The Review Team consists of individuals who have extensive experience, and are qualified to assess the capabilities of the agency seeking accreditation. 

Q: What is an Audit Team and what purpose does it serve?
A: The Audit Team reviews the findings from the Review Team to ensure that the findings are fair and consistent with the accreditation standards. The Audit Team consists of two to three members chosen from the same pool of Review Team members described above. However, an Audit Team member cannot review the work product of a Review Team where he/she served as a member. In some instances a PSC member may serve as an Audit Team member.

Q: What are the accreditation standards and where can I find them?
A: The standards are located in the respective sections of the Self Evaluation Review Accreditation (SERA).
The SERA is split into six sections:
· Section I – Administration and Finance
· Section 2 – Personnel
· Section 3 – Training
· Section 4 – Examination
· Section 5 – Supervision
· Section 6 - Legislative Power
Specific areas of assessment are described under each section with best practices, if any, listed immediately thereafter. The minimum passing score is described in the SERA. The organization of the SERA is designed to allow the agency to independently rate its own performance and project an estimated score. This allows an agency to estimate beforehand whether their agency can meet the requirements of accreditation and determine what areas need additional improvement.
When the Best Practice states “must”, the agency will be required to fully comply with the Best Practice to obtain the highest rating. If the Best Practice states “should”, the Review Team is given greater discretion in determining if the agency has earned the highest rating.

Q: When does the SERA need to be submitted?
A: The completed SERA should be submitted approximately 60 days before the on-site review so that the Review Team members can assess the questionnaire and attachments for compliance with the standards.

Q: How long will the accreditation process take?
A: Completion of the SERA is the most time consuming part of the accreditation process, and agencies should allow ample time to prepare the SERA and gather the attachments that provide support to each area of the SERA. Once the agency’s staff has completed the SERA and provided all of the attachments to the Director of Accreditation, then the process moves quickly. As mentioned previously, the SERA should be submitted at least 60 days before the expected on-site review. After the on-site review, a letter of determination is typically mailed to the agency’s commissioner within 60 days.

The Review Team will usually conduct a two and a half day review on-site to look at work products and interview agency personnel including examiners, investigators, licensing individuals, complaint processors, supervisors and various administrative staff. The on-site review will conclude with an exit meeting with the commissioner. The Review Team assigns ratings. The report is written and after approval by all Review Team members, it is presented to an Audit Team to review for consistency. Once approved by the Audit Team, the report is presented to the Performance Standards Committee for final vote. After the PSC has voted, a letter is mailed to the agency, usually within 30 days of the PSC’s vote, to let the agency’s commissioner know about the results. After the agency has been accredited or reaccredited, the agency must provide information on an annual basis to an Annual Review Team.

Q: Will the review team need to meet with any of our staff members while they are onsite?
A: Yes.

 Q: Will my accreditation rating remain confidential?
A: Yes, the individual scores are confidential. In addition, the Review Team members, Audit Team members, Education Foundation and PSC members sign confidentiality agreements. However, if the agency requests an extension of time for re-accreditation or a delay in payment of the accreditation fees, the PSC may discuss these issues.

Q: What happens if an agency doesn’t meet the standards for accreditation?
A: If an agency does not meet the accreditation standards, a letter will be sent by the PSC Chairman requesting any new documentation be sent to the Director of Accreditation. Once the additional documentation, if any, is received, the PSC will reconsider the ratings in collaboration with the Review Team that was onsite. If the PSC votes to deny the accreditation, a letter will be sent by the PSC Chairman to the agency’s commissioner conveying the final determination. This final determination may be appealed to the PSC.

Q: How long is an agency accreditation good for?
A: An agency must undergo re-accreditation every five years in order to maintain its status as an accredited agency. The PSC may grant extensions if they deem circumstances warrant. However, reaccreditation must occur within seven years of the last re-accreditation.

Q: What is the difference between probation and de-accreditation?
A: Probation – An agency may be placed on probation if the annual review or onsite review indicates that the agency no longer meets the standards for accreditation. An agency may also be placed on probation if it has been more than five years since the agency was last accredited. If the PSC votes to place an agency on probation, this determination may be appealed to the PSC. Probation determinations are not made public.
A: Denial of re-accreditation – If the PSC determines that a previously accredited agency no longer meets the standards for accreditation and the agency is not able to improve the areas of identified weakness, then the state agency will no longer be accredited. This determination will be supported by an assessment by a Review Team. The determination by the PSC can be appealed to the PSC Chair. A denial of re-accreditation determination will be made public.

Q.  What is the passable rating?
The passable rating in the scoring process, the state agency shall achieve a score of 75% or more in each of the six area of the    SERA.

Q: How do I make a recommendation for change to the SERA or Best Practices?
A: Send recommendation to the Director of Accreditation by email tgentilini@nascus.org.

For more information or additional resources on the NASCUS Accreditation Program, please contact Tammy Gentilini, NASCUS Director of Accreditation & Examiner Programs, at tgentilini@nascus.org.