dards and their accompanying discussion (which includes many "should" statements that do not constitute standards) vary greatly in specificity (CDA, 1993a). In addition to the commission's 27-page listing of accreditation standards, the self-study manual and other supporting material provide further detailed descriptions of the documentation that is needed to demonstrate compliance with the standards.

Given the breadth of the commission's responsibilities for dental school accreditation, it is not surprising that the typical site visit involves a large team of visitors. In contrast to the usual four-person survey team for medical accreditation, the average survey team for a dental school has fifteen members including five consultants for the predoctoral program and one consultant for each advanced education or allied education program. The AADS estimates that accreditation costs an individual school from more than $200,000 to more than $300,000 including the self-study, site visit, and response (AADS, 1993c). Most of the cost involves faculty time.

Accreditation Decisions

The Commission on Dental Accreditation has established three categories of accreditation results: approval, conditional approval, and provisional approval. The first category applies to programs judged to have achieved or to have exceeded published requirements, and it implies that a program has no serious deficiencies or weaknesses. Conditional approval applies to programs that have identified deficiencies or weaknesses that are considered correctable within a set period of time. This category allows an institution's graduates to meet requirements associated with state licensure and board certification. Provisional accreditation likewise allows an institution to meet these requirements, but it indicates that a program has a number of serious deficiencies and that significant improvement in the program must occur within one year.

In 1994, fifty-three programs were fully approved, and one was provisionally accredited (CDA, 1994a). The commission makes public an institution's overall accreditation status. Confidentiality is, however, maintained for most information including the self-study documents, site visit reports, institutional responses to site visits, progress reports, surveys, exit interviews, on-site communications, and proceedings of meetings.

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