When co-op practitioners on Canada's east coast met at Atlantic CAFCE's June '99 AGM, they established a strategic planning wish list. That list included marketing, funding, professional development, and program quality goals. Through group discussions at UCCB, the beautiful meeting site, accreditation was acknowledged as a significant vehicle for assuring co-op quality. In particular, co-op practitioners learned the value of participating on an accreditation review team.
"How's that?" you ask. Well, there is an accreditation process which involves the applicant institution as well as others who agree to sit on an external accreditation review team. This team is chaired by a current or past member of the CAFCE Accreditation Council as well as two other association members (usually one from the same geographic area as the application institution). The review team then follows the accreditation methodology to ensure that the program meets national standards, as defined in the Accreditation Guide and Application, in order to recommend accreditation status.
For new (and not so new) co-op practitioners, participating in an accreditation review team is a terrific professional development opportunity. According to Mausi Reinbold and Sonya Horsburgh at Mount Saint Vincent University, the experience "made them feel involved and part of the process, made them realize that Mount Saint Vincent has the attributes of good program quality, helped them learn about the variety of co-op programs, and afforded the chance to gain tips from other excellent co-op models."
College of the North Atlantic has welcomed three new co-op coordinators this year. All three have joined CAFCE, with professional development being a major goal, and all three have put their names forward to serve on an accreditation team. If you are a CAFCE member and want to learn more about accreditable co-op programs, I recommend you get involved. Simply email the CAFCE Office, at and offer to serve on a future accreditation review team. You will have a great learning experience, a significant professional development opportunity, and a unique opportunity to work with your wonderful CAFCE colleagues.