By Anne Rosivach
Final recommendations for revisions to the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs – the framework for the development, presentation, measurement, and reporting of CPE programs – will be presented to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) joint CPE Standards Committee in January 2012.
The standards are primarily of interest to CPE providers; however, proposed CPE credit calculation changes could have an effect on those required to complete continuing professional education.
Unless otherwise revised, the standards will be effective as follows:
- For group programs and independent study – March 1, 2012
- For self-study programs being published for the first time – March 1, 2012
- For self-study programs already in existence as of February 29, 2011 – March 1, 2014
"Professional education content and delivery must keep pace with the driving forces of technology and marketplace demands", said NASBA president and CEO David A. Costello. "No less is true for the standards to be followed by CPE providers."
"Last revised in 2002, the updated standards would provide flexibility for innovation in learning techniques and allow for future considerations around outcome-based learning. Significant revisions are in the areas of group Internet-based learning and self-study programs; issuance requirements for half credits under self-study programs; promotional/course announcement information for in-house training programs, and alternate methods for calculating CPE credits for self-study programs", NASBA stated in its announcement.
Some of the specific additions to the revised standards for CPE providers, according to NASBA, are:
- Sponsors may recommend one-half CPE credit for self-study programs (equal to twenty-five minutes).
- Use of a word-count formula is permitted as an alternative to pilot testing for determining the recommended CPE credits for self-study programs.
- If objective-type questions are used, at least three review questions and five final exam questions must be included per CPE credit.
- Providing feedback on the final examination is permitted; however, the sponsor must ensure that the question bank is of sufficient size to minimize overlap for the typical repeat test taker.
In the Exposure Draft for the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs, the joint committee stated that the standards are intended to be an "evergreen" document. "As questions arise related to implementation and application of the standards, the questions will be presented to the CPE Standards Working Group. . . . The CPE Standards Working Group will meet quarterly, and scheduled meeting dates will be posted on the NASBA Web site, Learning Market. NASBA will continue communicate the findings of the CPE Standards Working Group to the specific CPE program sponsor. Authoritative interpretations will only be issued by the CPE Advisory Committee in limited cases when the matter is not addressed in the Standards, cannot be addressed specifically with the CPE program sponsor, or cannot be addressed in the Best Practices document."
The new standards represent more than a year of work and careful consideration and input from CPE sponsors, state boards, state societies, NASBA and AICPA staff, and other interested parties. Once approved by NASBA and the AICPA, the revised standards will be amended to the Uniform Accountancy Act.