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The Buzz on the Proposed 2020 Business Accreditation Standards: Members Respond

We've received great feedback since unveiling the proposed standards last month at GAC. Here's what members are saying.

Update—April 7, 2020: The manner in which the 2020 business accreditation standards will be adopted by the Accreditation Council has been modified. Instead of an in-person vote that would typically be held during the Annual Business Meeting, the standards will be available to members of the Accreditation Council for approval via written consent.  

Update—March 16, 2020: The vote for the proposed new AACSB business accreditation standards has been postponed until we can bring members together at a future event in 2021. As a global organization, we believe it’s important to have full representation of our accreditation council present for this important and historic vote. Please follow updates at aacsb.edu/covid-19.

No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.
—H.E. Luccock

We are now halfway through our 60-day comment period for members to send us feedback on Exposure Draft 1 of the proposed 2020 business accreditation standards. As part of our promise to you to maintain an open and transparent process every step of the way, we are sharing the feedback we’ve been hearing from the membership so far. Inevitably, there will not be perfect agreement, but wide, positive consensus seems to be emerging, and that is our goal.

Standard No. and Title Essence of Comments
1—Strategic Planning no feedback received
2—Physical, Virtual and Financial Resources no feedback received
3—Faculty and Professional Staff Resources • Clarification is needed on initial preparation for SA and PA faculty.
• There is a need to strengthen language around the expectation that research should be aligned with the field of teaching.
• There is a desire to keep the 75 percent participating faculty at the global level.
4—Curriculum no feedback received
5—Assurance of Learning • There is traction around the notion of elevating the importance/focus of indirect measures. Members would like more “triangulation” from other stakeholders than just academic assessments by faculty members.
• Respondents have expressed that direct measures are important to ensure consistency across different sections of the same course.
• A variety of questions have surfaced about how a competency is defined; does this mean the school has to provide a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate learning goal achievement? Members request clarification on the difference between learning goals and competencies.
6—Learner Development Placement is not a term that translates globally.
7—Teaching Effectiveness and Impact Standards are needed around review of online courses.
8—Impact of Scholarship Clarification is needed that AACSB does not require two peer-reviewed journals—this is a local school definition.
9—Engagement That Impacts Business and Society More examples are requested as to what is expected in this category.
General Comments There is an overall sentiment that AACSB is moving in the right direction.

As you can see, we have several comments on assurance of learning still, and we have a sub-group of the Business Accreditation Task Force (BATF) continuing to work on that standard.

Please remember that Exposure Draft 1 will remain open until November 16, at which time we will review all input to determine where consensus is evident. Exposure Draft 2 will be issued concurrent with the 2020 Deans Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, and will be open for public comment for approximately 30 days.

What You Can Expect in Exposure Draft 2

The comments so far indicate we are on track with the sentiment of the membership, and we are greatly encouraged by some very positive emails to that effect. Exposure Draft 2 will be a further refining of the questions raised above, including on assurance of learning. Additionally, a subgroup of the BATF is working to provide examples of thought leadership as they relate to Standard 9. Standard 9 is not about volunteerism, though that is an admirable activity for a business school to undertake. Rather, Standard 9 is about thought leadership that emerges through engagement with business and society.

Exposure Draft 2 will also be provided in a "track changes" version as well as a clean version so that you can easily see what changes were made from Exposure Draft 1 to 2.

Stay tuned for future updates.  

Stephanie BryantStephanie Bryant is executive vice president and chief accreditation officer at AACSB International and is based in Tampa. Follow her on Twitter @StephMBryant.