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Evaluation Visits

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, including various workshops and one-on-one mentoring before, during, and after visits. The following training sessions are also currently available as PDF slides or 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  
•         Orientation for Distance Education Evaluators—View SLIDES
•         Orientation for Evaluators: Ten Tips for Writing the Evaluation Committee Report—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 regarding schools scheduled to receive such visits, which may be sent by email to accrediting@ats.edu. In addition to this listing, the school should announce the visit to its constituencies (e.g., via its website, newsletter, or social media) at least 60 days prior to its visit, using language such as the following:

“[Name of school] is hosting a comprehensive evaluation visit for reaffirmation of [or, for initial] accreditation by the ATS Commission on Accrediting on [list dates of visit]. The purpose of this visit is to verify that the school meets all applicable Commission Standards of Accreditation. Comments regarding how well the school meets those standards and/or generally demonstrates educational quality may be sent to the ATS Director of Commission Information Services (accrediting@ats.edu) at least two weeks before the visit. Comments may also or instead be sent in writing to [list official at school, along with contact information]. All comments will be shared with the onsite evaluation committee.”

For the spring 2020 semester, the schools hosting comprehensive evaluation visits include the following (please note that this list may change if a visit is rescheduled or canceled):
• Academy for Jewish Religion (pending approval at the January 2020 meeting of the Board of Commissioners)
• Baptist Seminary of Kentucky
• Bethel Seminary of Bethel University
• Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
• Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary
• Catholic Distance University Graduate School of Theology (pending approval at the January 2020 meeting of the Board of Commissioners)
• Christ the King Seminary
• Concordia Theological Seminary (IN)
• Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico
• King’s Seminary at the King's University (pending approval at the January 2020 meeting of the Board of Commissioners)
• Perkins School of Theology Southern Methodist University
• Regent College
• Southeastern University School of Divinity (pending approval at the January 2020 meeting of the Board of Commissioners)
• St. John Vianney Theological Seminary
• St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary
• The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology
• Trinity Evangelical Divinity School of Trinity International University
• Wake Forest University School of Divinity