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Redevelopment of ATS Commission Standards and Procedures

Board Recommendation of New Standards, New Policies and Procedures, and Revised Commission Bylaws

Based on the work of the Redevelopment Task Force since June 2018 that sought, received, and assimilated extraordinarily broad input from the membership, the ATS Board of Commissioners is unanimously recommending to the Commission membership approval of the “final version” of the following documents during the June 24–25 Biennial Meeting: new Standards of Accreditation, new policies in Policies and Procedures, and corollary changes to revised Commission Bylaws—all effective July 1, 2020 (per Board-approved Grandfathering Procedures).

Final Version of New Standards, New Policies and Procedures, and Revised Commission Bylaws

The Board is recommending for membership approval on June 24–25 a “final version” of the three documents listed above (available as one single, bookmarked PDF). The final version shows no mark-ups or notes or Self-Study Ideas in the new Standards and new Policies and Procedures, though it includes all the revisions made since the first and second public drafts of those documents were released earlier this year. The final version also includes changes needed in the revised Commission Bylaws, along with rationales for those revisions. The Board is also providing a “clean copy” (no markups or notes) of the Standards with Self-Study Ideas. This is not the version on which the membership will be voting, as the Self-Study Ideas are approved by the Board. A “crosswalk” between the new Standards being recommended and the current Standards is provided here (see also Appendix C in the new Self-Study Handbook), along with a comparison between the two.

Annotated Version of New Standards and New Policies and Procedures

As background to the single final version described above, the Board is also providing the following two “annotated versions,” which include the Self-Study Ideas and the notes that explain many of the revisions. The annotated versions show in red-font markups all the revisions made since the second public drafts were released in February, with the first pages of these versions providing a summary of key revisions.
  • Annotated Version of New Standards of Accreditation (with markups, notes, and Self-Study Ideas)
  • Annotated Version of New Policies and Procedures (with markups and notes)

Other New Accreditation-Related Documents

As part of this comprehensive redevelopment, the Board has also approved several documents (listed below) that complement and supplement the documents in the final version. These would also become effective July 1, 2020, pending membership approval of the final version:
  • Self-Study Handbook (see Grandfathering Procedures)
  • Guidelines for Reduced-Credit Master’s Degrees (see new Standard 3.13)
  • Guidelines for Competency-Based Theological Education (see new Standard 3.10)
  • Guidelines for Achieving Initial Accreditation and Writing Readiness Reports
  • Rationale for New Guidelines for Achieving Initial Accreditation

Summary of Membership Input

The new Standards of Accreditation and the new Policies and Procedures recommended by the Board to the membership are the result of two years of work by the 19-member Redevelopment Task Force. Its work achieved extraordinarily broad input from the membership, beginning with the Association's four-year Educational Models and Practices Project that involved ninety percent of the membership. During the first year (2018-2019) of the redevelopment process, the task force engaged a dozen working groups with 100 members, listened to fifty focus groups involving 600 members, and collected and analyzed more than 1,100 member comments.
During the second year (2019-2020), the task force reflected on all that membership input to write numerous internal drafts that led to two public drafts, released respectively in December 2019 and February 2020. Those two public drafts drew more than 500 member comments that have informed the documents now being recommended as the final version. Throughout this two-year process, the task force has published more than two dozen progress reports in Colloquy Online. While the official public comment period ended in March, further comments or questions can be emailed to


The Redevelopment Task Force met at the ATS office in October 2019 to work on drafts of the Standards and the Policies and Procedures.