Evaluation visits are the second of three steps in the accreditation process, coming after the self-study but before any final actions by the Board of Commissioners (see pages 4–6 of Chapter One of the Self-Study Handbook, An Introduction to Accreditation by the Commission on Accrediting). Evaluators are peers who serve without remuneration, typically spending three to four days on campus, as well as devoting many hours before and after the visit to reviewing documents and writing an evaluation committee report. Evaluation committees consist of three to five persons, including an administrator, an academic/educator, and a ministry practitioner (though others may be added as needed, for example, for distance education). An ATS staff person usually accompanies the evaluation committee, acting as a resource for the school and the committee.
Serving on an evaluation committee is often described by participants as "one of the best forms of professional development," not only because of what is learned about best practices from the Standards but also because of interaction with peers. Information about serving as an evaluator is found in Chapter Four of the Self-Study Handbook, Guidelines for Members of Accreditation Evaluation Committees. Other helpful documents include Guidelines Regarding Comprehensive Evaluation Logistics, Guidelines for New Evaluation Committee Members, Guidelines for Evaluation Committee Reports, and Sample Evaluation Committee Report.
The ATS Commission staff provides frequent training sessions for members of evaluation committees. These training sessions include workshops at the Pittsburgh office, webinars offered both live and recorded, and one-on-one mentoring before, during, and after visits. The following training sessions are currently available as videos on YouTubeTM:
• Orientation for New Evaluators: An Overview -- View SLIDES or VIDEO
• Orientation for Evaluators: Using the Standards in Evaluation -- View SLIDES or VIDEO
• Orientation for Evaluation Committee Chairs -- View SLIDES or VIDEO
• Orientation for Focused Visit Evaluation Committees -- View SLIDES or VIDEO
• Training for Evaluating Distance Education -- View SLIDES or VIDEO
Public Notice of Evaluation Visits
As part of its responsibilities to the membership and to the public, the Commission on Accrediting publishes prior to each semester a list of schools receiving comprehensive evaluation visits during that semester. The Commission invites third-party comments on schools scheduled to receive such visits. Comments are particularly welcome regarding the General Institutional Standards, the Educational Standard, and Degree Program Standards. Please email comments to the director of accreditation services. Please note that the list may change if a visit is rescheduled or canceled.
For the spring 2016 semester, the schools receiving evaluation committees include the following:
- American Baptist Seminary of the West
- Aquinas Institute of Theology
- Christian Witness Theological Seminary
- George Fox Evangelical Seminary
- Huron University College Faculty of Theology
- Lexington Theological Seminary
- Lincoln Christian Seminary
- Mount Angel Seminary
- Seattle Pacific Seminary of Seattle Pacific University
- Shepherds Theological Seminary
- Talbot School of Theology