Six months before their accreditation visit takes place, institutions are required to publish a notice soliciting third-party comment on the quality of their professional education programs. The notice directs letters to be addressed to the BOE team in care of the NCATE office. Approximately two to three months before the BOE review, NCATE staff sends copies of letters of third-party comment to the team chair and the NCATE coordinator at the institution. The institution may then choose to prepare a written response to any of the letters received as a result of the solicitation for comment. Third-party comment is often not received for an institution.
Letters of comment and the response from the institution become part of the data to be examined by the BOE team and should be listed as sources of evidence in the BOE report. On occasion, letters may prompt the team to schedule an interview, request documentation, and/or visit an off-campus or school site that might not have been part of the team’s original schedule. Although concerns that may be raised by third-party testimony should be discussed with the unit head, any follow-up of claims made by third-party letters is conducted at the discretion of the BOE chair and should depend on relevance to the standards.