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The Value of Accreditation

Little Hover Commission 2004

Regulation of Acupuncture: A Complementary Therapy Framework

School approval procedures provide multiple values to students and the general public. One primary goal is to make sure that students receive a quality education in the subject matter that regulators deem necessary for entry level professionals. Similarly, the approval process protects students by making sure that they receive a solid education from a credible institution.

The federal government requires accreditation as a way to safeguard the federal investment in student aid. The U.S. Department of Education follows a stringent process for approving private accrediting bodies, deputizing them to perform the function as a benefit to the public. Some 73 organizations are deputized to accredit 51 types of higher education programs.109 These organizations also must periodically demonstrate that specific standards are being upheld to remain federally recognized accrediting bodies. State agencies cannot act as federally deputized accrediting bodies.110

The California Acupuncture Board requires board approval of schools before they will allow graduates to sit for the California exam.

Acupuncture schools must apply to the board and undergo California board scrutiny for their students to practice in California. This creates a potential barrier for students who graduated from out-of-state schools that have not paid the California Acupuncture Board to review their programs.

The Business and Professions Code requires the board to "establish standards for the approval of schools and colleges."111 However, the statute does not specify that the board must conduct the process, leaving the possibility to accept the accreditation by ACAOM, even under existing law, in lieu of a state-run process.

State law also requires private postsecondary institutions in California that are not accredited by a federally approved regional agency - such as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges - to be approved by the State's Bureau of Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education. Approval from the bureau indicates that an educational institution meets minimum standards for education quality and business practices. The bureau's rules also provide some transparency in terms of a school's finances and governance, as well as information on complaints.


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