NCATE selects team chairs from the Board of Examiners (BOE) members who have been recommended as chairs by their peers or institutions. They have a record of high performance, leadership skills, and interest in being a chair. Successful BOE team chairs:
- Have a thorough understanding of the NCATE process and standards;
- Make the on-site visit a learning experience for less experienced team members;
- Conscientiously follow NCATE guidelines and timelines;
- Ask questions when uncertain and keep in touch with NCATE when problems arise;
- Are quietly authoritative—exercise leadership without being overbearing or inflexible and are willing to hear all sides yet able to keep discussions focused; and
- Are organized, good managers, and able to coordinate activities with institutions and state representatives.
Team chairs are usually selected six to eight months before a visit. They are expected to begin communications about the visit with team members as soon as team members have been identified. The chair will guide the team through the offsite review process and the writing of the offsite BOE report, including assigning a standard or standards for each team member to review and draft. As the onsite visit approaches, the chair informs team members (after consultation with the unit) about the airport they should use, the hotel, and transportation from the airport to the hotel. They also ask team members to identify the people they need to interview and exhibits they want to examine during the visit and the standards to which the member would prefer to write.
Approximately two months before the onsite visit, BOE team chairs conduct a previsit to the institution to become more familiar with the institution, key institutional representatives, the state consultant, the state co-chair (if a joint state/NCATE visit), and state partnership requirements. During the previsit, the chair finalizes the logistical arrangements for the onsite visit that range from identifying travel to and from the airport to establishing a preliminary interview schedule to the supplies needed in the workroom. They arrange the times that team members should arrive on campus and begin interactions with faculty and candidates. (In some faith-based institutions, team members cannot be on campus or interact with faculty and candidates on either Saturday or Sunday.)
During the onsite visit, team chairs are responsible for managing the work of the BOE team, which often includes state representatives, state consultants, and state NEA and AFT representatives. They assign team members to be primary and secondary writers of standards (this is typically carried over from the standard assignments given for the offsite review meeting). They set the times of team meetings on each day of the visit and lead team meetings. They meet once or twice a day with the unit head and NCATE coordinator to provide an update on the team’s findings, request missing information and plan for the next day.
In states with a single NCATE/state team, the leadership is shared with the state team co-chair. The chair(s) manage the team’s time so that team members do not have to work excessively late in the evenings. To manage time, chairs may set norms for group work that include setting time limits for discussion on a standard and allowing team members to make the same point only once. Chairs may work with team members on their writing assignments throughout the visit. By the evening of the last full day of the visit, the teams should be ready to determine whether standards are met and the areas for improvement (if any) that will be cited in the onsite BOE report. The team chair expects all team members to have completed their writing assignments by the morning of the exit conference (final day of the onsite visit).
The chair, state co-chair, and state consultant conduct an exit conference with institutional representatives Wednesday in the late morning or early afternoon. Before the exit conference, the chair should prepare the Preliminary Statement of Areas for Improvement (MS Word) or a similar document to leave with the unit head. The document lists the areas for improvement that the team plans to include in the onsite BOE report with a disclaimer indicating that the statements will be edited and additional areas for improvement may be cited as the BOE report is finalized, and during the UAB deliberations.
The team chair leaves the onsite visit with an electronic copy of the BOE report in AIMS, which includes the sections written by each team member. Following the visit, team chairs are responsible for compiling and editing the onsite report in AIMS and adding the sections on sources of evidence and persons interviewed. The chair then submits the draft report in AIMS, for editing by NCATE staff and each team member, including the state team members and state consultant. After the recommendations of team members and NCATE staff have been incorporated into the report, the chair finalizes the second draft in AIMS, and submits it to the unit head and NCATE coordinator at the institution to check for factual errors. When corrections from the institution have been posted in AIMS and incorporated into the final draft of the BOE report, the chair submits the final report to NCATE and the unit.
Although the report has been submitted, the chair’s responsibilities may not be finished. The chair should retain his/her notes from the visit until the Unit Accreditation Board (UAB) has determined the accreditation decision for the unit. If an institution is denied accreditation or accredited is revoked, it may appeal the decision. The team chair and chair of the UAB’s audit committee that reviewed the case are asked to participate in the appeal hearing via conference call. After institutional representatives summarize their rationale for the appeal during the hearing, the Appeals Panel chair will ask the team chair and UAB audit committee chair to make comments. The team chair may confirm and/or refute statements made by the institution about the conduct of the visit. Appeal panel members may ask the chair questions during the hearing.
The performance of team chairs is evaluated by the institution visited and the state and national BOE members on the team. Team chairs often serve multiple 3-year terms on the BOE.