Online Teaching Course Accreditation Committee

Accreditation Standards



These standards for accreditation of continuing education and training (e.g. TEFL, TESL, and TESOL, etc.) and high school or middle school curriculum (e.g. IB, AP, etc.) subject review courses have been approved by the membership of OTCAC. The OTCAC standards are interpreted and, thereby, operationalized through policies and procedures adopted by the  Accreditation Committee under the Bylaws and, as such, are to be referenced in conjunction with  these standards in evaluating the accreditability of institutions/organizations. OTCAC standards serve a number of functions, including:

  • the representation of good practice against which continuing education and training  institutions and high school review programs can be evaluated and improved;
  • the guidance to evaluation teams in conducting online reviews;
  • the basis upon which the Accreditation Committee reviews relevant reports and documentation for an institution/organization’s accreditation status and to promulgate such policies and procedures as they determine necessary for a more focused interpretation; and
  • to enable governmental agencies, employers, participants, and the general public to know the  criteria by which an accredited institution or program has been evaluated.

Standard 1 - Mission


The institution has a mission that is compatible with the OTCAC mission, scope, and standards.  

  1. Mission: The institution clearly states its mission and makes it public. The mission is  consistent with the Principles of Ethics for OTCAC institutions; thereby providing a  definitive basis upon which to deliver and assess the education and training programs. The  education and training provided are consistent with the institution’s mission and are  documented by either a needs assessment or market experience.  
  2. Goals: Broad institutional goals are clearly stated, support the mission, and are understood at all levels of the organization.  
  3. Planning: The institution has sound, written one-year and longer-range plans that  encompass both the educational and business objectives of the institution. The plans  support the mission, facilitate the accomplishment of the broad institutional goals, and are  updated at least annually. The plans include specific and measurable objectives, with  corresponding operational strategies, projected time frames, required resources, and  method(s) for subsequent evaluation of each objective. 

Standard 2 - Management


The institution is capably and responsibly managed. 

  1. Governance: The institution has a governing board and/or senior management team that is responsible for developing and maintaining an effective framework of written strategies and  policies. This management structure ensures the integrity and effectiveness of the institution and its compliance with statutory, regulatory, and accreditation requirements.  
  2. Operational Management: Operational management is responsible for systematically and  effectively implementing the strategies and policies of senior management within an  organizational framework that is clearly defined, understood, and effective. Written policies and procedures guide the day-to-day operations of the institution. 
  3. Personnel Management: Management develops, implements, and maintains written policies and procedures for the systematic and effective recruitment, selection, hiring, and retention of all personnel. Management provides orientation, supervision, evaluation, and training and  development of its employees to ensure that qualified and capable personnel, at appropriate staffing levels, are effectively utilized. 
  4. Records: The institution has an organized record-keeping system that ensures all records  are maintained in an accurate, orderly, and up-to-date manner. The record-keeping  system facilitates ready access and review of those records by appropriate parties. All records are protected from unauthorized access and undue risk of loss. Employees and  students have appropriate access to information contained in their files. Records are maintained for a period of time consistent with applicable statutes, regulations, and sound business and educational practices.  
  5. Communications: Management ensures regular and effective communication among appropriate members of the institution on pertinent aspects of its operations, including the delivery of quality education and training services. To maintain operational effectiveness, periodic meetings with employees are conducted and appropriate documentation is  maintained on significant issues, consistent with the size and purpose of the institution.  
  6. Professional Relationships: The institution establishes relationships with other organizations  within the education/training and employer/industry network. These relationships are  maintained, utilized, and documented for the purpose of enhancing the quality of the education, training, and student services. 

Standard 3 - Finance


The institution is fiscally sound and demonstrates ethical financial practices.

A. Stability: The institution demonstrates a record of responsible financial management with resources sufficient to provide quality education, training, and student services and to complete the instruction of all enrolled participants. Financial reports provide clear evidence of financial stability and sound fiscal practices.

B. Financial Procedures: The institution assesses its finances at adequate intervals, not less than quarterly. Written policies and procedures exist for proper financial controls and supervision of financial management staff. Tuition charges are applied fairly and consistently; receipt of tuition payments and other monies is properly recorded and tracked. Cancellation and refund policies are written, fair and equitable; are consistently administered; and comply with statutory, regulatory, and accreditation requirements. Qualified and capable individuals manage and evaluate the effectiveness of the financial operations and practices.

Standard 4 - Curricula


The institution’s curricular design, materials, and outcomes measurements follow sound educational  practices.  

  1. Educational Goals and Objectives: The institution’s programs and courses have appropriate  educational goals and objectives. The curricular content and learning experiences are  preplanned and present a sound, systematic, and sequential educational methodology.  Sufficient and appropriate knowledge and skill elements are included to ensure adequate  preparation for the expected performance outcomes in the specific program or course for  which the students enroll.  
  2. Program/Instructional Materials: Program materials, including syllabi, lesson plans,  instructional guides, and texts demonstrate the appropriate scope, sequence, and depth of  each program or course in relation to the stated goals and objectives. Instructional materials,  including supplementary textbooks, software, learning activities, visual aids, electronic links,  and other teaching tools support the goals and objectives. All materials are up-to-date,  readily available, and facilitate positive learning outcomes.
  3. Performance Measurements: Performance measurements are written and are periodically  evaluated and updated to ensure instructional effectiveness. The institution has a sound assessment system that contains a set of defined elements, such explicit passing grade requirements,  quizzes, and tests, dependent on the type and scope of each course. Assessment does not necessarily need to be in the form of essays or projects but there must be a system in place to measure accurately if a student has reached the learning objectives of each part of their enrolled course(s). For review courses, assessment is not necessary, but the course(s) must follow a logical sequence and provide students with all necessary learning materials and tools to successfully review the curriculum content.
  4. Curriculum Review/Revision: The institution uses systematic and effective procedures to  continuously monitor and improve the curriculum. The written procedures include soliciting  feedback from relevant constituencies, such as faculty, students, graduates, employers, and  advisory/certification boards, as well as analysis of completion, and, if applicable, placement  results. The procedures focus on a comprehensive review of the curriculum as it relates to  the expected learning outcomes. 
  5. Certification and Licensing: When the purpose of instruction is to prepare students to meet  the standards for certification, the  curriculum includes appropriate preparation and materials to meet the requirements for such  credentials. The institution records and tracks the pass rates of graduates and uses the results to measure and improve the quality of the educational programs offered. 

Standard 5 - Instructional Delivery


The institution utilizes appropriate and effective instructional methods and other resources to ensure sound instructional delivery. A: Instructional Methods – Instructional methods encourage active and motivated engagement and thought-processing within participants. The instructional methodology is consistent with current training industry standards and  appropriate to the educational goals and curricular objectives, facilitates learning, and serves  the individual learning needs and objectives of participants.

B: Video and Audio Content – Online course instructional methods should provide motivation, challenges, and learning opportunities for all participants, taking  into account different backgrounds, learning abilities and styles, and prior levels of  achievement.  While video lectures are advised, these are not mandated by OTCAC as a prerequisite for accreditation.

Standard 6 - Instructional Personnel


The institution ensures that qualified instructors, under professional and capable direction, effectively deliver educational and training services.

A. Qualifications of Instructional Personnel: Instructional personnel possess the appropriate combination of educational credential(s), specialized training and/or certification, work experience, and demonstrated teaching skills, which qualifies them for content-creation and general teaching duties. Instructional personnel meet all relevant accreditation, federal, state, local, and/or industry-specific requirements.

B. Instructor Orientation and Training: The institution develops and implements a written policy for the effective orientation and training of instructional personnel, course content creators, and online tutors who may provide lectures or feedback on student work to ensure a consistent, high level of instruction. The institution also develops and implements an effective written policy for the ongoing professional development of instructional personnel that is systematically implemented, monitored, and documented.

Standard 7 - Admissions & Student Services


The institution recruits and enrolls only qualified participants who can reasonably be expected to benefit from the education and training services and provides student services appropriate to their needs.

A. Recruitment: Informational and promotional materials, advertising, and representations made by or on behalf of the institution for recruiting purposes make only justifiable and provable claims regarding the courses, programs, costs, location, instructional personnel, student services, outcomes, and other benefits. All communication with prospective students is ethical and honest. The institution does not state or imply that employment, occupational advancement, and/or certification and specific exam results are guaranteed.

B. Enrollment: The institution’s written policy for enrollment is clearly stated, defined, and in compliance with statutory, regulatory, and accreditation requirements. Reliable and regular means are utilized to ensure that, prior to acceptance, all applicants are able and qualified to benefit from the education and training services. The enrollment process is preplanned, effective, and regularly monitored by the institution to ensure its integrity. The institution provides in its written enrollment agreement or contract full disclosure of the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of all parties, including (1) all costs stated in clear and explicit language, and (2) cancellation and refund policies that comply with statutory, regulatory, and accreditation requirements. The enrollment agreement or contract is furnished to appropriate parties before any payment or obligation is made.

Standard 8 - Evaluation


The institution utilizes appropriate methods of evaluation to ensure that outcomes are consistent with the mission and goals. The institution maintains all required documentation.

A. Student Progress: The institution effectively monitors, assesses, and records the progress of participants utilizing a sound assessment system with a set of defined elements that are appropriately related to the performance objectives of the programs or courses. Student progress is documented consistently in accordance with institutionally established performance outcomes and is communicated to all participants. Participants are informed of their progress on a regular and timely basis.

B. Participant Satisfaction: Open lines of communication with participants exist and demonstrate responsiveness to student issues. Written policies and procedures are followed that provide an effective means to regularly assess, document, and validate student satisfaction relative to the quality of education and training offered, as well as the student services provided. Courses must have a publicly visible review system allowing course students to express their free opinion on the course(s) they have just studied.

C. Completion and Placement: Written policies and procedures are followed that provide an effective means to regularly assess, document, and validate the quality of the education and training services provided relative to completion rates, as applicable.

The number of participants who complete the programs and courses in which they enroll should be consistent with the benchmarks established by the Accreditation Committee.