From the very initial preparations to preparing a response to the site visit report, site visit procedures vary for many reasons. Because of that, this information is provided to assist the program to prepare the self-study and plan the actual visit.
All members of the site visit team carefully review the self-study document prior to the on-site review. This initial assessment serves to identify areas where the program may not comply with the Accreditation Standards or to raise questions about information that is unclear. While on site, the site visit team verifies the information provided in the self-study document and carefully assesses any unclear or problem areas. The verification process includes interviews with institutional personnel and review of program documentation. A recommendation is included in the report of the site visit when non-compliance with a standard is identified. If a particular standard is not addressed by the report, the program is viewed as meeting that standard.
The Commission recognizes that there is considerable latitude in determining procedures and methodology for site visits. Experience has shown that the conference method for conducting a site visit is widely favored and effective. Conferences are scheduled with identified administrators, faculty and students/residents/fellows at specified times.
In addition to formal scheduled conferences, committee members may informally discuss department and division programs with chairpersons and faculty members throughout the site visit. In accordance with CODA policy, the visiting committee chairperson will make every effort to schedule interviews with individuals to obtain information about a program. Program administrators are excused during conferences scheduled with faculty members, students/residents/fellows or other invitees.
Executive sessions of the visiting committee are a critical part of the on-site evaluation process. These sessions are scheduled at intervals throughout the day and provide time for the committee to meet privately to prepare its findings and recommendations.
The site visit report represents the visiting committee's findings and recommendations related to the program. The site visit report, along with the institutional response to the report, serves as the Commission's primary basis for accreditation decisions. The report also guides chief executive officers and administrators of educational institutions in determining the degree of their compliance with the Accreditation Standards. The Commission, assisted by the site visit teams, identifies specific program deficiencies or areas of non-compliance with the standards, but it is the responsibility of the program to identify specific solutions or means of improvement.