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.
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:
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 fall 2015 semester, the schools receiving evaluation committees include the following:
- Augustine Institute
- Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
- Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology
- University of the South School of Theology