National Architectural Accrediting Board
What are the mission statement, goals, and objectives of your accreditation agency? Please share a short statement of how objectivity and integrity are assured in your accreditation system.
Since 1975, the NAAB Conditions for Accreditation have emphasized self-assessment and student performance as central elements of the NAAB model. The Directors have maintained their commitment to both of these as core tenets of the NAAB’s criteria and procedures.
Vision: The NAAB advances educational quality assurance standards and processes that anticipate the needs of academic programs, the profession, and society, to promote a better built environment.
Mission: The NAAB develops and maintains an accreditation system in professional degree education that enhances the value, relevance, and effectiveness of the profession of architecture.
Objectivity and Integrity Statement
Objectivity and integrity in the NAAB procedures is accomplished by
- the inclusion of academics, architectural practitioners, regulators, students, and members of the public on the decision-making board;
- by including representatives of the practitioners, regulators, academics, and students on visiting teams;
- by adhering to clear definitions of conflict of interest; and
- by making decisions based only on information shared with the program and with which the program has had a chance to respond.
How do you achieve effectiveness in accreditation without unduly burdening the institution under review (issues of costs, time, and complexity)?
Effectiveness of NAAB accreditation is achieved by partnering with the programs under review in the following ways:
- The NAAB works with the programs at annual workshops on report preparation and team room preparation.
- Visit schedules are negotiated between the visiting team chair and the director of the program (all visits are of the same duration except for programs with remote sites).
- NAAB administrative costs for visits are subsidized by contributions from the US national organizations of practitioners and of regulators (in addition to the contributions from the schools).
- The NAAB has frequent workshops and orientation sessions for visiting team members and for visiting team chairs. Representatives of programs are encouraged to observe these sessions.
How do you respect diversity of culture and mission of institutions under review while maintaining minimum standards for the profession?
All programs in the US are expected to demonstrate student achievement at levels of understanding and of ability according to 34 student performance criteria. The standards of the NAAB are based on student performance outcomes and not on standardized curricula.
Each program is also expected to have a unique mission statement and should be able to demonstrate how they achieve, and how they review and revise, their mission on a regular basis. All of the conditions of accreditation are considered by the NAAB with respect to their congruence with the mission of each program and with the mission of its home institution.
How does your agency inform itself about the needs of the profession, worldwide developments in the discipline of accreditation, and developments in education?
For currency of professional needs, the NAAB holds an Accreditation Review Conference every five years with the participation of representatives of the US schools, practitioners, regulators, architectural students and interested members of the public.
The NAAB also belongs to, and takes part in the work of, the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA), the Center for Quality Assurance in International Higher Education (CQAIHE), and the International Quality Assurance and Accreditation Network in Higher Education (INQAAHE).
In addition to the assessment of institutional resources and how they are allocated with respect to the institutional mission, how does your agency assess student performance criteria?
The NAAB publishes a list of 34 Student Performance Criteria that must be met either at a level of “understanding” or of “ability” for all programs deemed accredited. Student work from all required courses is assembled for a visiting team in a room available only to the team during their periodic visits to programs. The work exhibited must demonstrate at a minimum one full year of the program courses and must include work at both high pass and low pass levels. Teams report the criteria as either “met” or “not met”—based on the work exhibited at the time of the visit—to the directors of the NAAB. The directors meet regularly to consider the reports of the visiting teams and to determine the terms of accreditation.
The 34 Student Performance Criteria are reviewed after each Accreditation Review Conference for necessary changes that reflect the needs of the profession nationally and internationally.
How are your governance and secretariat functions organized to assure integrity and professionalism in the conduct of their operations?
The NAAB was organized by, and is supported financially by, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). The NAAB reports annually to the boards of each of these organizations and meets bi-annually with the leadership of all of the organizations. The budget for the NAAB is negotiated with these organizations and each organization sends 3 representatives to be directors of the NAAB, with the exception of AIAS, who sends two representatives. Each organization has the right to understand how the resources they have provided to the NAAB are used and the right to withdraw resources if the NAAB pursues courses of action they do not support. The NAAB is accountable to the organizations which fund it and the clarity of its financial transactions is the mechanism by which its actions are reviewed.
The staff of the NAAB have academic and professional credentials for the positions they assume, are reviewed for job performance annually, and take part in an annual retreat to evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of office practices.
What are your mechanisms to insure that expertise and experience in the applications of standards, procedures, and values are present in members of visiting teams, commissions, and staff (please supply and organization chart)?
The ACSA, AIA, AIAS, and NCARB supply lists of potential team members to the NAAB each year. Teams are composed of people only from those lists. Visiting team members go to orientation and training sessions and are supported with a team member handbook. Visiting team chairs must have served on a minimum of three previous visits with positive recommendations from their peers and from the programs visited. No team has more than one first-time member (not including the student member) and teams with first-time chairs include at least one team member with extensive chair experience. Team members are evaluated by the team and by the program visited
The majority of the directors of the NAAB are nominated by the ACSA, AIA, and NCARB. They have extensive knowledge of the issues and agendas of the organizations they come from. Most nominees have previous team experience, often as chairs of visits. If they have not had team experience before they join the NAAB, they are sent on visits as observers, at NAAB expense, in their first year. Observer experience is also arranged for new public members.
Staff has appropriate work and academic credentials for the positions they fill. Staff responsibilities are documented for each position and are reviewed annually.