Accreditation Decision Appeals

Any institution, state, or association that is the object of an adverse decision, as made by one of NCATE’s governance boards, may appeal that decision prior to the action becoming final. An adverse decision shall be provided to the institution in writing and must describe the basis for the action and inform the institution of its right to appeal. An adverse decision as defined by NCATE’s boards includes: the denial of an application for, or the revocation of, a state partnership; the denial or revocation of constituent membership; the denial of application for, or the revocation of, program standards; and the denial or revocation of institutional accreditation.

An appeal is heard by a Review Panel, consisting of five members selected from the Appeals Board. Appeals Board members are trained regarding the NCATE standards, policies, and procedures involved in conducting on-site evaluations, applying or establishing its policies, and making accreditation decisions. Appeals Board members are also trained on the process and procedures for hearing an appeal, including the decisions that must be made by a Review Panel. A Review Panel does not include members of the NCATE board that took the initial adverse action being appealed. Members of the Panel are subject to the NCATE Code of Conduct, which acts to prevent both real and apparent conflicts of interest.

The Review Panel will either affirm, amend, reverse, or remand the adverse action. The Review Panel’s decision shall be implemented by the governance board whose decision was the subject of the appeal. If the Review Panel remands the decision to a board, the Panel must identify the specific issues that the board must address, and subsequent action by the board must be consistent with the Review Panel’s decision or instructions.

The decision of the Review Panel shall be sent to the appellant in a written report that conveys the basis of the action taken by the Panel. The decision of the Review Panel will be received by the Executive Board as an information item at its first meeting following the hearing. The status of the appellant remains unchanged until the appeals process has been exhausted.

Appeal of an Adverse Accreditation Decision

An adverse accreditation decision is one that denies or revokes the accreditation of a professional education unit at the initial teacher preparation level and/or the advanced preparation level. The adverse decision may be appealed only on the grounds that:

  1. NCATE standards were disregarded

  2. stated procedures were not followed,

  3. (for institutions) evidence favorable to the institution and provided to the Board of Examiners (BOE) was not considered, or

  4. (for institutions) evidence favorable to the institution and provided to the Unit Accreditation Board (UAB) was not considered.

If an institution believes that one or more of these four conditions was a factor in the denial or revocation of accreditation, the only available means of redress is through the appeals process.

Although an institution may appeal an adverse decision in which there was a lack of a full number of team members due to last-minute emergencies, that factor alone is not sufficient to uphold an appeal. The institution must convincingly demonstrate that this fact made a difference in the accreditation decision. The institution would have to show that: (1) the lack of a full time caused actual prejudice to it; and (2) the prejudice changed the accreditation decision. The fact that the institution did not recommend canceling the visit would be evidence that it, at least before the visit, believed that the assembled team would be sufficient to conduct a fair and complete visit.

In the case of accreditation decisions, the Review Panel may affirm, amend, reverse, or remand the decision to the UAB. If the Panel remands the decision to the UAB, it must identify specific issues that the board must address. The UAB must act in a manner consistent with the Review Panel’s decisions or instructions. The status of the appellant at the time of the visit remains unchanged until the appeals process has been exhausted.

Process of Appeal

In the case of an accreditation decision review, all evidence presented in the appellant’s brief and considered by the Review Panel must be confined to conditions existing at the time of the BOE team visit. If, however, the institution’s financial information was a significant and material factor in the UAB’s decision to take the adverse action, the Review Panel shall permit the institution to present evidence of new financial information if all three of the following conditions are met:

  1. The financial information was unavailable to the institution until after the decision subject to appeal was made;

  2. The financial information is significant and bears materially on the financial deficiencies identified by the board in the underlying decision; and

  3. The only remaining deficiency cited by the board in support of its final adverse action decision is the institution’s failure to meet NCATE standards pertaining to finances.

An institution or program may seek review of new financial information provided by this process only once, and any determination made by the Review Panel with respect to that review does not provide a basis for appeal.

The following provisions govern the appellate process:

  1. Within 15 days after receiving notice of an adverse action, an institution, state, or association electing to appeal that decision must present written notification of its appeal to NCATE’s president.

  2. No later than 30 days after the date that it submits its notification, the appellant must submit a brief to NCATE’s president that sets forth the specifics of its appeal and includes full documentation.

  3. NCATE’s president appoints a Review Panel, drawn from the Appeals Board, to hear the appeal. NCATE’s president will also designate one of the appointees as chair of the Review Panel.

  4. No later than 30 days after submission of the appellant’s brief, the Review Panel is convened to hear and act on the appeal. The Review Panel shall have access to prior NCATE Review Panel decisions so that the Panel’s actions are consistent with NCATE policies, requirements, and prior treatment of institutions.

  5. The appellant shall have the right to appear before the Review Panel to present a 30-minute oral argument on its brief. The appellant shall also have the right to representation by counsel during the appeal, but may not call witnesses or introduce new evidence on its own behalf. If an institution is appealing an adverse accreditation decision, the institution is permitted to designate "institutional representatives" to attend the hearing. Individuals designated as institutional representatives must be employees of the institution or must have been employed by the institution at the time of the site visit. The institution must include the names of its institutional representatives, if any, in its brief.

  6. If the appellant is appealing an adverse accreditation decision, the chair of the BOE team and the chair of the UAB audit team may also participate by teleconference in the hearing. Panel members may question institutional representatives, the BOE team chair, and the UAB audit team chair during the hearing.

  7. The Panel prepares a written report that conveys the basis of its findings and action taken on the appeal, and submits that report to the institution within two days after the action taken by the Panel. If the appeal is not upheld by the Review Panel, the decision of the original governing board becomes final as of the date of the Review Panel’s decision and is subject to disclosure and notification procedures as described in NCATE’s Policy for Dissemination of Information.

Costs of Review

All institutions that choose to appeal a UAB decision will pay a $2,000 fee. Payment is not contingent on the Appeal Review Panel’s decision. This fee helps cover the cost of convening a panel, compiling documents, and related staff time.

Access to Documents

In cases of accreditation decision reviews, Panel members, the BOE team chair, and the UAB audit committee will have access in NCATE’s Accreditation Information Management System (AIMS) to the appeals document and pertinent action letters and reports.


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