NASBA, AICPA Seek New Round of Feedback on CPE Proposalby
Comments can be submitted until April 30 on the newest version of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) exposure draft to revise the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education Programs.
Published jointly by the two groups, the standards are a framework for continuing professional education (CPE) program development, reporting, presentation, and measurement.
The first exposure draft was released on May 19, 2015. It proposed that the standards would permit CPE credit for nano-learning and blended learning. The standards would also require CPE providers to maintain the license information and status of CPAs, tax attorneys, and/or enrolled agents used in the development of accounting, auditing, and tax programs. In addition, the program descriptive materials would be maintained for all programs, regardless of the field of study classification.
The draft was re-issued earlier this month to incorporate recommendations offered during the first comment period that ended on Oct. 1. The 51 comments offered came from CPE providers, licensed practitioners, CPA firms, state boards of accountancy, and state CPA societies.
Nano-learning and blended learning drew the most attention, while other comments targeted program evaluations, CPE credit for technical reviewers, purchasing content from other entities, application of the word-count formula in determining the CPE credit for self-study, and changes to the terminology of group Internet-based program.
“These proposed revisions to CPE standards take advantage of a range of available learning options and provide CPAs greater opportunities and increased flexibility in their professional education,” Clar Rosso, AICPA vice president of member learning and competency, said in a prepared statement. “This revised exposure draft makes clear that all CPE, regardless of delivery method, will continue to be held to a rigorous standard.”
An executive summary of the latest exposure draft indicates that the most significant change to the original proposal is in the CPE Program Measurement section to align CPE credit increments within the allowable instructional methods.
Here’s a snapshot of the changes in that section.
- CPE increments can be earned in one-fifth, one-half, or whole credits for all delivery methods except nano-learning. For group programs, independent study, and blended learning, a minimum of one full credit must be awarded initially before partial CPE credits can be awarded. For self-study, a minimum of one-half credit must be awarded initially and, after the first full credit is earned, partial CPE credit may be awarded. Nano-learning may be awarded only as one-fifth credit. Sponsors also have the discretion to round CPE credits to the nearest one-fifth, one-half, or whole credit as per the instruction method.
- When substantive changes are made to self-study materials, whether in one year or over several, pilot tests of the revised program materials must be done.
If the proposed changes to the CPE standards are approved, they will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2016, for all newly created programs. For all other current programs, the standards must be implemented at the next CPE program review/revision date.
Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.