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Unit 2 Standards

Accreditation standards are statements that provide criteria for conducting a comprehensive assessment of an educational institution or program. Standards are expectations and tools that can be used to assess and evaluate programs. They represent a minimal level of acceptable performance. They offer a basis of comparison for measuring capacity, quantity, quality, content and value.

Educational standards, which may also be termed accreditation standards, are established to ensure that programs use their diverse resources to meet the same minimum requirements. These standards are stated in broad terms to allow flexibility in program design. They are written so that high expectations are maintained without undue rigidity. Standards should be demanding without being overly prescriptive. They should not threaten program creativity or individuality. Standardization of curricula and administration is not the desired outcome of standards. To further elaborate:

Our challenge then is to avoid the notion that high standards exist only through standardization, and to resist a dependence on compliance to predetermined quantitative benchmarks as the strategy for demonstrating academic excellence. We should not confuse quality with conformity to some centralized notion of quality. We must reinforce high expectations tied to student performance without resorting to undue standardization. In accreditation, it means defending the time-honored principle of placing the institutional and/or program mission as the overriding guide in the assessment of academic quality. For example, requiring all students from all institutions to meet the same set of standards is viewed as too restrictive in our system of higher education. Standards supporting diversity and uniqueness must remain the hallmark of accreditation and of higher education.

Institutions should continuously gather, analyze and use data to both improve student learning and achieve the institution's mission. Accreditation standards should only serve as an external audit of this ongoing internal monitoring and evaluation by the institutions.

Standards must be interpreted and applied consistently by the Commission and its site visitor teams. All programs must be evaluated according to the same standards using the same rules. Personal opinions and preferences must be put aside so that an objective assessment can be made.

Accreditation standards are developed through a consensus process. The Commission on Dental Accreditation has authority to formulate and adopt educational requirements and guidelines, i.e., standards for accrediting predoctoral programs, as well as advanced and allied dental education programs.

Appropriate communities of interest are substantially involved during all stages of developing and revising accreditation standards.