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State Board Report

April 2015

One of NASBA’s biggest issues this year continues to be education, NASBA Chair Walter Davenport told the Boards’ Executive Directors and Legal Counsel attending the March meetings in Tampa. While many universities are awarding course credit for life experience, that is not recognizable on the transcripts sent to State Boards. "We are trying to have a conversation with the educational accrediting bodies because the Boards are assuming their candidates are getting 150 hours of education – not of life experience," Chair Davenport said. It is important to get an understanding of what is being done so that it does not affect mobility, he explained.

"We are not saying education must be delivered in brick-and-mortar universities, but the model has to be defensible," President Ken L. Bishop said. "The Uniform Accountancy Act calls for 150 hours of education, not 150 hours or its equivalent. We believe the transcripts should be transparent." He reported NASBA leaders and staff will be meeting shortly with the accrediting bodies to discuss this issue.

"Accreditation has been a brewing issue," NASBA Continuous Improvements and Analytics Director James Suh said. "But the sky is not falling yet." He predicted that NASBA will be working on this issue for the next couple of years. Only 16 State Boards explicitly accept transcripts from schools with national accreditation, 14 explicitly do not accept national accreditation and 25 have no specific language on national accreditation. Mr. Suh observed that some states have much more liberal rules on accrediting bodies. An accreditation summit is being planned for late summer 2015 to be sponsored by NASBA and the AICPA, and to include regional, national and specialized accreditors.

A large component of the education landscape is distance learning, Mr. Suh noted. Southern New Hampshire University, a distance education university, quickly grew to 60,000 students and their credits are based on direct assessment, not time-in-seat. Competency-based education has a questionable image because a lot of people don’t understand it, Mr. Suh observed. Georgia Tech is offering a master’s degree in computer science based on the MOOC (massive online open course) framework, a model he predicted may be adopted by other universities as time goes on.

Making comparisons of educational credentials is complex as records covering programs from domestic universities, international universities, international institutes and international associations are submitted to the State Boards, NASBA Manager of Business Development and Research Brentni Henderson-King explained. In her work for the NASBA International Evaluations Service (NIES), Ms. King pointed out that she has observed the transfer of credits from one institution to another varies and schools don’t say what kind of documentation is needed for the awarding of credit. For example, the University of Phoenix now has the authority to issue the transcript for Meritus University, a Canadian university that only existed for five years and is now out of operation. According to some State Boards’ rules, they would have to accept those credits earned at Meritus, she noted. NIES reports to each Board based on the Board’s rules.

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