Accreditation Program Reviewers
The review team provides the Council Liaison and the AEE Director of Programs with a clear understanding of the organization and its level of compliance with AEE accreditation standards at the time of the site visit. Members of the review team are not consultants and do not make recommendations to Council or the organization under review.
The review team is formed based on the availability of appropriate volunteer reviewers for the setting, activities and clients.
There are three reviewer roles that may comprise review teams including lead reviewers, reviewers and trainees. Lead reviewers manage the site visit on behalf of the Accreditation Council. Reviewers work in conjunction with lead reviewers to carry out the site visit. Trainees observe and engage in the site visit in a training capacity at the discretion of the lead reviewer.
The Reviewer Application may be obtained from the AEE website. The completed form, along with a current resume, is submitted to the Director of Programs for consideration. Applicants must be current AEE members who are or have been recently employed in and demonstrate ongoing professional activity in the field of experiential education. Applications are assessed for specific technical skill sets at industry standards (i.e. canoeing, challenge course, climbing) and specific experience or training related to setting (i.e. wilderness or urban), client (i.e. adolescent or adult) and/or focus (i.e. education or therapeutic). Reviewers are approved by the Director of Programs.
On occasion, individuals are invited to be reviewers in order to promote partnerships with other credentialing organizations (i.e., American Camp Association, Association for Challenge Course Technology, etc.) or because a particular area of expertise not normally found in the field of adventure programming (i.e. law, public policy) is required for a site visit.
Reviewer applicants must complete the Accreditation Reviewer Training Workshop, apprentice at an approved site visit under an approved lead reviewer or participate in a Reviewer Training Symposium.
1. Reviewer Training Workshops are normally offered at AEE regional conferences as pre or post conference workshops. Other accreditation related workshops may be offered in the regular program at annual conferences to enhance accreditation reviewer or lead reviewer training.
2. Reviewer apprenticeship opportunities are available on a limited basis according to the number and nature of site visits to be conducted in a given period and the availability of lead reviewers approved as reviewer trainers.
3. Reviewer Training Symposiums are conducted in conjunction with selected continuing accreditation site visits at the discretion of the Director of Programs and the Accreditation Council. A reviewer training team functions separately and in consultation with the review team to ensure the integrity of the site visit.
Potential candidates may be responsible for all or part of training expenses. Completion of training does not guarantee that the Reviewer Application will be approved or that the applicant will be asked to be a member of a review team in the future.
B. Review Teams
Review teams engage in the review process prior to the site visit when members receive the Self-assessment Study from the organization. The review team is responsible for:
1. collecting data pertaining to all appropriate sections of the Manual of Accreditation Standards for Adventure Programs
2. verifying standards compliance;
3. reporting findings to the Director of Programs and the Council Liaison.
The Self-assessment Study is a thorough internal review of administrative systems, operations and programs. Its purpose is to demonstrate compliance with applicable accreditation standards. Prior to the site visit, review team members should do the following:
1. read the Self-assessment Study thoroughly to get an overall sense of the organization (i.e., scope, mission, goals, activities, areas of operation, client profiles, etc.);
2. interpret compliance with the standards based on the evidence provided in the Self-assessment Study;
3. identify on-site actions based on questions and concerns raised in the reading of the Self-assessment Study (i.e., who should be seen, what should be seen, what questions should be asked);
4. communicate questions and concerns about the Self-assessment Study to the lead reviewer;
5. communicate travel arrangements, and accommodation and food needs to the lead reviewer.
The site visit demands coordination between review team members, long hours and good preparation. The review team will meet upon arrival to review notes, confirm responsibilities and finalize the schedule. Normally, the review team will meet with organization staff in an informal setting to answer any questions and set the tone for the review.
Interviews, observations and a review of documents, facilities, and equipment comprise data collection. The majority of data collection needs are identified prior to the site visit through a thorough analysis of the Self-assessment Study. However review team members will likely identify additional data needs during the site visit. Collectively, the review team will engage in the collection of data in a variety of ways.
Staff at all levels of the organization may be interviewed. Staff interviews may include representatives of different programs, services or functions and advisory or support group members such as Risk Management Committees or Board of Directors. While face-to-face interviews are preferred, some interviews may be conducted by telephone.
Participants may be interviewed individually or in small groups to verify standard compliance from their perspective. Participant interviews provide impartial triangulation of data.
Reviewers observe programming in action. While it is impractical to observe all activities, selection should be based on factors such as areas in which the organization specializes (so called "signature activities"), activities that appear to have higher rates of incidents or accidents, high-risk activities, new activities and activities that warranted comment or were cause for past concerns in previous reports, reviews, evaluations or inspections.
The review team will review documents and files that are noted in the Self-assessment Study as available on site or for which concerns were raised. Facilities and support services such as administrative oversight and procedures, transportation, food service, maintenance and health services may be examined in an appropriate manner.
Site Visit Report
The purpose of the Site Visit Report is to communicate review team findings to the organization and to Council. The report has a narrative section and a standards section. The narrative section includes an introduction, a summary of review team findings and other observations or concerns. The standards section lists all standards reviewed with met, unmet or not applicable findings.
The review team should complete a draft of the Site Visit Report prior to the exit Interview. In order to do so, the review team should plan to spend a portion of each day comparing findings and drafting sections of the Site Visit Report.
The exit interview is facilitated by the lead reviewer and takes place at the conclusion of the site visit with appropriate personnel from the organization. The exit interview follows the format of the draft Site Visit Report. It provides an opportunity to discuss preliminary findings of the review team, clarify remaining questions, correct factual errors and describe the next steps in the accreditation process.
Prior to the exit interview the review team should meet to discuss the specific conditions and process of the exit interview. Feedback specifically for an administrator or potentially sensitive issues may take place prior to the exit interview with appropriate personnel to avoid surprises. The exit interview should focus on the observations of the review team and the facts.
Differences of opinion between the organization and the review team should be covered in the Organization Site Visit Response. The review team should not offer opinions or make recommendations regarding accreditation during the exit interview. Council will make the accreditation decision based on the application materials, the Site Visit Report and the Organizational Site Visit Response.
Final Review Team Meeting
In most cases, the review team will meet before leaving the site to discuss findings, agree upon the content of the final Site Visit Report, delegate tasks that remain, set deadlines and sign the signature page of the report. At this time it may be appropriate to complete evaluation procedures.
The AEE Accreditation Council and staff ask review team members to complete the Reviewer Evaluation of the Site Visit form and the Reviewer Feedback form for each member of the review team. Data is used to enhance continuous improvement of the AEE Accreditation Program. Completed forms are submitted to the Director of Programs within fourteen (14) days of the site visit.
AEE will provide the lead reviewer with electronic versions of the Reviewer Evaluation of the Site Visit form and the Reviewer Feedback form. Forms are also available on the AEE web site. Completed forms are sent to AEE and the Council Liaison within fourteen (14) days of the site visit.
C. Review Team Leaders
Lead reviewers must meet the criteria for selection for a reviewer, have experience as a reviewer on a minimum of one site visit and be recommended by a current lead reviewer or AEE staff. Lead reviewers are approved by the Director of Programs.
Lead reviewer candidates will apprentice with an approved lead reviewer on a site visit or participate in a Reviewer Training Symposium. Additional training may be offered in the regular program at annual conferences to update lead reviewers about Accreditation Program policy, industry standards, procedural aspects for conducting site visits, or in response to matters identified in reviewer evaluations of site visits.
1. Lead reviewer apprenticeship opportunities are available on a limited basis according to the number and nature of site visits to be conducted in a given period and the availability of lead reviewers approved as reviewer trainers.
2. Reviewer Training Symposiums are conducted in conjunction with selected continuing accreditation site visits at the discretion of the Director of Programs and the Accreditation Council. A reviewer training team functions separately and in consultation with the review team to ensure the integrity of the site visit.
D. Review Team Leader Responsibilities
Lead reviewers manage the site visit. They communicate with the organization, the Council Liaison, the Director of Programs and the review team before, during, and after the Site Visit about a range of topics and logistics outlined below.
1. Discuss concerns the Council Liaison might have based on review of application materials or the Self-assessment Study.
2. Determine review team member preferences, skills and areas of expertise and delegate tasks accordingly.
3. Confirm dates and travel plans with the organization, the review team and AEE.
4. Develop a site visit schedule with the organization and provide a copy to the Council Liaison and AEE.
5. Confirm logistical details (i.e., work area, access to office equipment, accommodation, transportation, etc.) with the organization.
6. Ensure that members of the review team have reviewed the application materials prior to the site visit and remind review team members to evaluate the Self-assessment Study standard by standard and generate a list of topics, data needs and questions based on the initial review.
7. Discuss training objectives and needs with reviewer trainees.
1. Meet with team members to review notes, confirm responsibilities and finalize schedule.
2. Lead the initial meeting with the organization to set the tone for the review, detail logistics (i.e., schedule, time frame, etc.) and answer questions.
3. Manage logistics and activities related to the site visit.
1. Coordinate review team member tasks and responsibilities for data collection.
2. Assist review team members to interpret and review appropriate evidence of compliance for relevant standards.
3. Communicate with organization staff throughout the site visit about logistics and needs of the review team.
Site Visit Report
1. Review "Conducting an External Review" in the Accreditation Program Manual.
2. Facilitate the writing of the Site Visit Report by spending a portion of each day with the entire review team comparing findings and drafting sections of the written report.
3. Complete a draft of the report for use in the exit interview (do not provide the organization with a draft of the Site Visit Report).
4. Revise the draft used in the exit interview as appropriate before departing from the site.
5. Submit the final of the Site Visit Report to AEE and the Council Liaison within fourteen (14) days of the site visit.
1. Facilitate a meeting of the review team to discuss the exit interview.
2. Facilitate the pre-meeting with the organization director to discuss any specific feedback or potentially sensitive issues.
3. Facilitate the exit interview based on the sections of the Site Visit Report, including:
- a general overview of the site visit process,
- strengths of the organization,
- unmet standards,
- other observations or concerns,
- met standards with comments.
4. Ask review team members to contribute as appropriate.
5. Ask organization staff to offer missing information or clarify incorrect information.
Final Review Team Meeting
1. Finalize the Site Visit Report.
2. Conduct a general evaluation of the site visit.
3. Provide members of the review team members with hard or electronic copies of the Reviewer Evaluation of the Site Visit form and the Reviewer Feedback form to be submitted to AEE and the Council Liaison within 14 days of the site visit.
4. Review procedures for reimbursement of expenses.
E. Reviewer Expenses and Requests for Reimbursement
Expenses incurred by reviewers during a site visit will be reimbursed by the organization being reviewed. Reasonable expenses include travel, food, lodging, photocopies, postage, telephone and other incidental expenses directly related to the site visit. Expenses should be kept to a minimum. For example, reviewers should travel by the most economical means available and may use email to communicate when possible. AEE reserves the right to determine if expenses are an unreasonable burden on the organization seeking accreditation.
Expenses are submitted to the Director of Programs using an expense reimbursement form with original receipts attached no later than 7 days after the site visit. AEE will process and submit expenses to the organization. The expense reimbursement form is an excel file that can be obtained from AEE. Please submit a request via email to email@example.com.