Provider Zone: What is the Provider Zone and how do I log in?
The Provider Zone allows you to manage your learning provider online listing on the Learning Market website. You can maximize your exposure by ensuring that you enter as much information as possible about your company. While logged in to the Provider Zone, you can:
Tips for Navigating the Provider Zone:
Provider Zone: How do I list new courses on Learning Market or make changes to existing courses?
Provider Zone: How do I edit our company details and update the main contact listed on our Learning Market profile?
Tools to “Enhance Your Listing” can be found below the “company details” section. Here you can:
I am the person at my organization responsible for our membership with NASBA and the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. I am leaving the organization (or my role is changing at the organization). What do I need to do?
When there is a change in the person responsible for communicating with NASBA and coordinating the applications and renewals with the National Registry, the sponsor is required to notify NASBA by completing the “Notification of Change in Main Contact” form within 30 days of such change.
All communications from NASBA/ the National Registry, including the renewal applications, are sent to the email address of the designated main contact for your organization as recorded in the National Registry database. We understand that change is a constant in any business, and by notifying NASBA of changes in a timely manner, sponsors can avoid paying late-renewal fees and missing out on pertinent CPE information such as updates on the CPE Standards revision process.
It is also important to note that changing the contact information to your organization’s profile at LearningMarket.org does not update the contact information in the National Registry database. The “Notification of Change in Main Contact” form must be completed in order to change a contact in the National Registry database.
Click here to access the Notification of Change in Main Contact form.
I am on LearningMarket.org and can't seem to find the renewal application form. How do I receive the renewal form and when?
A sponsor cannot access a renewal application through the LearningMarket.org website. The renewal application process is initiated by the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. Sponsors must renew their membership annually by the first day of the month of their initial approval date. For example, if the sponsor’s initial approval date was May 17, 2009, then the sponsor must renew its membership by May 1st of each year.
The designated main contact for the organization will receive an email with instructions and the link to the online renewal application 30 days prior to that renewal date. The email comes from a salesforce.com email extension address (email@example.com) with the subject line “National Registry Annual Renewal Application.”
Submission of the completed renewal application AND the appropriate renewal fees must occur by the first day of the renewal month.
A sponsor can remit payment for the renewal fee by credit card or check by selecting the link to the online renewal application within the email that corresponds to the intended form of payment. Receipt of the renewal fees by the first day of the renewal month is require in order for the renewal to be considered paid in full regardless of payment by check or credit card.
Sponsors that do not submit their renewal form by the first day of the renewal month will be assessed a late fee penalty of 50% of the renewal fee. On the second day of the renewal month, the designated main and secondary contacts for the organization will receive an email notifying that a late fee is being assessed and will receive a revised invoice indicating the late fee adjustment. When the late fee is not paid along with the renewal, it will be assessed through a separate invoice. The late fee may be paid by credit card or check.
If ever there is a question regarding a sponsor’s renewal application or timing, please contact any Registry account administrator at 1-866-627-2286.
What are the most common mistakes made on promotional materials?
A few of the most common mistakes revealed by our audit process are as follows:
What’s the process from the time I file my online application until I hear from NASBA that I’ve been approved?
When the application is received, an account manager is assigned, according to Jeanetta Cothron, Regulatory Compliance Auditor. That’s the person who’ll be reviewing the documents that the applicant has attached to the application to see if anything is missing or needs clarification. If that’s the case, the main contact will receive an email to that effect, asking for the supplemental material.
Once NASBA has all the needed materials in-hand, the documentation is submitted electronically to a NASBA manager for final approval. At that point, any further documentation or clarification needed is requested from the applicant, and if all is in place, final approval is issued.
“Once the approval has been granted, the main contact will receive an electronically generated approval packet, which will have their sponsor identification number, information on how to use the NASBA logo on their materials, and a wall certificate that certifies that they are now an official Registry member,” Cothron says. At this time, the main contact will also receive the Login ID and Password needed to access their Learning Market account which is included as a part of their Registry approval.
Where can I get an invoice?
Many companies require an invoice to pay for their applications to NASBA. Since NASBA has moved to an online application, we have also moved to an online invoicing system. You might be asking "How do I get an invoice?" A sponsor can contact anyone in the CPE department by phone or email and provide the following information:
Once any member on the CPE team has the proper information, we will send out an invoice that will direct you to pay online via credit card or check. Questions regarding invoices can also be directed to Terri Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When do I receive my renewal form?
The designated main contact for the organization will receive an email with instructions and the link to the online renewal form 30 days prior to that renewal date. The email comes from a salesforce.com email extension address (email@example.com) with the subject line “National Registry Annual Renewal Application.” It’s important to keep the email address as current as possible to ensure that you receive the email link.
You may remit payment for the Renewal Fee by credit card or check, by selecting the link to the Online Renewal Form that corresponds to your intended form of payment.
What do I submit with the renewal form?
The online renewal is a simple process. You answer a series of yes/no questions about your organization’s compliance with the Standards. You then pay online with several options. You do not have to submit any documents with the renewal form. However, be sure that you do maintain supporting documentation in the event that you appear in a random sponsor audit.
Where can I find the Additional Delivery Method (ADM) Application?
If you would like to add an Additional Delivery Method (ADM) to your sponsorship, you must first complete and Additional Delivery Method (ADM) application. This can be found on the “National Registry” tab on the “Registry Forms and Applications” page. Under “Membership Update Forms” is the “Additional Delivery Method (ADM) Application Interest Form.” Submit your information and your Registry account manager will send the Additional Delivery Method (ADM) Application to you via e-mail.
How can I ensure that I get my Registry-related emails?
Take some of these easy steps.
Registry emails are sent from a salesforce.com extension address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Depending on your company email security rules, Registry emails could be viewed as "spam" by the company's firewall. You can check with your IT department and let them know emails coming from the Registry are legitimate.
Emails are sent to the address of the designated main contact for your organization that is recorded in the National Registry database. If the address is incorrect, the email will bounce. Please be sure to let us know about email changes.
You also may not receive emails due to a change in the main contact, or the person responsible for communicating with NASBA and coordinating the Registry applications. When this person leaves the organization or assumes different responsibilities, the sponsor is required to notify NASBA by completing the "Notification of Change in Main Contact" form within 30 days of such change.
We understand that change is a constant in any business, and by notifying NASBA of changes in a timely manner, sponsors can avoid paying late-renewal fees and missing out on pertinent CPE information such as updates on the CPE Standards revision process. To help with keeping your contact information up to date, we have begun to send out "Stay-In-Touch" email requests to the main contact on record a few weeks before your official Registry renewal form is sent. This Stay-In-Touch email will ask you to either "Update Now" or verify "No Changes" to your information.
We hope these tips will ensure better delivery of Registry emails. If you still encounter any problems with your email, please contact any member of the Registry Team at 1.866.627.2286 option 1 or CPE@nasba.org.
What are the guidelines for using the Registry logo and Registry statement on a Sponsor's website and online materials?
Until recently, NASBA has had strict guidelines regarding use of the Registry logo in outside materials, primarily that it had to be accompanied by the Registry statement. But with the continued rise in Internet marketing, that requirement has become unwieldy.
“The way people market and advertise their courses has changed quite a bit,” says Jessica Luttrull, CPA, Manager of the National Registry. “Many sponsors want to market their courses on their website, as well as advertise some of the accolades they have received. In doing so, they want to use the Registry and QAS logos, and until now our guidelines have prohibited the use of a freestanding logo, and required that it must be connected to the Registry statement.”
From now on, Registry sponsors who wish to use the logos in their online marketing may do so, provided that a user who clicks on the logo is taken to a site, or a pop-up window, that displays the Registry statement. Those who use the logos in print material must continue to attach the Registry statement as before.
What is the difference between Group Live, Group Internet Based and Self Study when it comes to the actual instructional methods?
Continuing professional education providers have a number of instructional delivery methods to engage their students in dynamic learning. The Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs (Standards), as revised January 2012, authorizes three delivery methods:
The Standards define Group Live programs as “an educational process designed to permit a participant to learn a given subject through interaction with an instructor and other participants either in a classroom or conference setting.”
Have you attended a one-day seminar? Have you attended a multi-day conference with different sessions? Then you have experienced a Group Live presentation.
A Group Internet Based program is defined as “an educational process designed to permit a participant to learn a given subject through interaction with an instructor by using the Internet.” The three main Group Internet Based program requirements are:
But what is an acceptable monitoring procedure? Sponsors have discretion in determining the most appropriate monitoring procedures. They can use polling questions, code words at random intervals or a combination of these. (Tip: If you use polling questions, you must include three polling questions per CPE credit hour.)
If you have participated in a WebEx webinar, Adobe Connect webinar or GoToMeeting, then you have experienced a Group Internet Based program.
Did you know that you can offer Group Internet Based CPE credits to your small group? If you have a situation in which one person from a small group logs into the computer, but the other individuals are not logged in, you can offer CPE credits provided that (1) a live subject matter expert facilitates the discussion and (2) verifies and documents attendance.
However, future presentations that are archived and do not include a live subject matter facilitator are considered Self Study, and must meet all Self Study requirements. CPE credit for archived events is equal to the CPE credit awarded for the original presentation.
A Self Study program is “an educational process designed to permit a participant to learn a given subject without involvement of an instructor.” Self Study programs can be taken online or may be paper-based. These programs require the completion of a final examination with a passing score of 70.
Also, this delivery format has a unique methodology to determine CPE credits. CPE credits can be determined through a pilot test or a word count formula under the 2012 Standards. For more detail on these two methods, please review Standard No. 14 of the 2012 Standards.
Why are there 23 fields of study? I am a CPE provider and state societies require certain fields of study on their certificates of completion that aren’t included on the list of 23?
Effective March 1, 2006, the Registry reorganized the fields of study to the current 23 fields of study. The purpose of reorganizing the fields of study was to promote the classification of a program based on subject area or content. The intent of the current 23 fields of study is to help alleviate guesswork during board examination of CPE certificates of completion and assist CPAs in reporting CPE more accurately for higher CPE compliance rates.
The 23 fields of study represent a compilation of fields of study used by the 55 jurisdictions. We recognize that boards of accountancy have varying rules on CPE fields of study. Some boards list seven or fewer broad subject areas, while other boards have very detailed descriptions. To assist in classifying programs using the 23 fields of study into broader categories, see the two tables below:
Example 1: Licensee must earn a certain amount of technical and non-technical credits
Example 2: Licensee must classify CPE credit hours in seven fields of study
Accounting and Auditing
Specialized Knowledge & Applications
NASBA permits a CPE sponsor to include different or supplemental information on the certificate such as that information required by a state society. Just be sure to include a line or area on the certificate that specifies the NASBA field of study. For example:
NASBA Field of Study: Business Management & Organization
What do I do now that I have been selected for a random desk audit?
The purpose of the desk audit is to confirm the responses provided to NASBA during the most recently submitted self-certification online renewal. The main contact receives an Audit Acknowledgement Form by email. This form is the first step in the audit process. The main contact agrees to become responsible for submitting all audit related documents and provides NASBA with a program list that covers the period under audit. The Audit Acknowledgement Form is due within one week.
The Audit Acknowledgement Form and program list are submitted through an online system. The Registry Team reviews the form and program list. The Registry team member selects one program per delivery method for the audit and sends the main contact a link to complete an online Audit Form. The Audit Form and supporting materials are due within two weeks.
How do I know what supporting documents to send?
The audit process mimics the initial application. In addition to completing an online audit form, you will also need to provide the following supporting documents related to the selected program(s):
Note: You provide all these documents for each delivery method that is under audit.
What happens if I can’t produce the materials?
The audit covers the most recent renewal period. For this reason, the expectation is that sponsors can quickly produce supporting documentation. If you are unable to produce the documents, it will be written up as a deficiency.
How do I know if I passed the audit?
An audit results report is created which explains any findings and provides guidance on achieving full compliance. This report is shared with the sponsor at the conclusion of the desk audit.
What happens if I fail the audit?
If you fail the audit, your audit results report documents the deficiencies and asks you to submit a written response as to how the deficiencies will be corrected by the next renewal period. Sponsors have 60 days to submit the written response.
What are my compliance responsibilities if I (Registry sponsor) have contractual arrangements with clients?
The Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs (Standards) provide a framework for the development, presentation, measurement and reporting of CPE programs. CPE sponsors have flexibility in how to achieve compliance with the Standards; however, the organization whose Registry ID is included on the certificate of completion is ultimately responsible for compliance with the Standards and NASBA requirements.
If a CPE program sponsor is going to issue certificates of completion under its name and Registry number, then the CPE program sponsor must maintain proper attendance records evidencing the Registry ID number provided on the certificate of attendance. The scenarios below describe the proper application of the Standards in circumstances where programs are provided in-house to a client’s employees and the certificates of completion will be issued under the CPE program sponsor’s Registry ID number.
Scenario 1: Promotion or announcement of client training events
A Registry sponsor enters into a contract with a client to hold a CPE session for the client’s employees. In the contract, the Registry sponsor and client agree to learning objectives and activities for the program and agree to compensation for the event based on the number of participants. The Registry sponsor will conduct the training if one or the maximum number of participants per the contract attends. The client may make the CPE program mandatory. Those factors do not remove the responsibility of the Registry sponsor to comply with Standard No. 9, which requires certain information be provided to enable the CPA to assess the appropriateness of learning activities. The Registry sponsor must either provide the required information directly to the participants or to the client to distribute to the participants.
If the participants of the program are employees of the client, then the Registry sponsor may use the requirements of internal training courses to provide program descriptive materials to participants. For reference, sample compliant templates of program descriptive materials (promotional/course announcement materials) may be found on the Registry Forms and Applications page (located at the bottom of the page).
Scenario 2: Monitoring attendance and issuing certificates of completion
The set-up is the same as Scenario 1. The Registry sponsor will be compensated whether one or the maximum number of participants per the contract attends. The Standards place the responsibility of attendance monitoring on the sponsor. In addition, the Standards require that the Registry sponsor maintain records of participation, dates and locations of programs and number of CPE credits earned by participants. A best practice is to provide a sign-in and sign-out sheet at the session and have the client submit the attendance record to the Registry sponsor at the end of the learning event. The Registry sponsor will then issue the CPE certificates of completion and provide them to the client to distribute to the participants. The Registry sponsor should not provide the client with a certificate of completion template to generate certificates on their own.
For more details on sponsor responsibilities in attendance monitoring and issuing the certificate of completion, please review Standard Nos. 13 and 18.
What are my compliance responsibilities if I (Registry sponsor) purchase content from an outside vendor?
CPE sponsors may purchase courses from other vendors or course developers. However, the organization whose Registry ID is included on the certificate of completion is ultimately responsible for compliance with the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs (Standards) and NASBA requirements.
The Standards provide a framework for the development, presentation, measurement and reporting of CPE programs. There are more individual standards in the area of CPE program development than in the other categories, which demonstrates the importance and focus on CPE program development to ensure the highest quality of CPE for CPAs.
If a CPE program sponsor plans to issue certificates of completion under its name and Registry number, then the CPE program sponsor must first consider the purchased content based on whether the content was purchased from an entity registered with NASBA on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors.
If the content is purchased from another Registry sponsor, then it will be acceptable for the CPE program sponsor to maintain the author/developer and reviewer documentation from that Registry sponsor in order to satisfy the content development requirements of the Standards.
If the content is purchased from an entity not registered with NASBA on the National Registry, then the CPE program sponsor must independently review the purchased content to ensure compliance with the Standards. If the CPE sponsor does not have the subject matter expertise on staff, then the CPE sponsor may contract with a qualified individual to conduct the review. The CPE sponsor must maintain the appropriate documentation regarding the credentials/experience of both the course developer(s) and reviewer(s).
Need a quick reference guide to use for content considerations? Please use the following:
For more details on program development requirements, please review the section on “Standards for CPE Program Development” of the 2012 Standards.
What are my compliance responsibilities if I (Registry sponsor) sell services to CPE providers?
A Registry sponsor may sell services to other CPE providers (including Registry and non-Registry sponsors). These services could include providing platforms for delivering group Internet-based or self study programs or a learning management system. However, the organization whose Registry ID is included on the certificate of completion is ultimately responsible for compliance with the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs (Standards) and NASBA requirements.
The Standards provide a framework for the development, presentation, measurement and reporting of CPE programs. There are more individual standards in the area of CPE program development than in the other categories, which demonstrates the importance and focus on CPE program development to ensure the highest quality of CPE for CPAs.
When providing services to other CPE providers, if a CPE program sponsor plans to issue certificates of completion under its name and Registry number, then the CPE program sponsor must first consider who is providing the course content.
If the content is provided by another Registry sponsor, then it will be acceptable for the CPE program sponsor to maintain the author/developer and reviewer documentation from that Registry sponsor in order to satisfy the content development requirements of the Standards.
If the content is provided by an entity not registered with NASBA on the National Registry, then the CPE program sponsor must independently review the course content to ensure compliance with the Standards. If the CPE sponsor does not have the subject matter expertise on staff, then the CPE sponsor may contract with a qualified individual to conduct the review. The CPE sponsor must maintain the appropriate documentation regarding the credentials/experience of both the course developer(s) and reviewer(s).
For more details on program development requirements, please review the section on “Standards for CPE Program Development” of the 2012 Standards.
The application/form that I am completing has asked for a program listing. What time period should my program list include?
The time period for the program listing depends on the type of application/form being completed. If you are completing an initial application or an additional delivery method application, the program listing is forward-looking. That is, we are looking for the program offerings planned for the upcoming 12-month period.
If you are completing a renewal application or responding to the desk audit process by completing the request for a program list, we are looking for the programs offered in the past 12 month period based on the sponsor’s renewal date.
For example, on July 1, 2103, you received your renewal application stating that your membership will expire on August 1, 2013 (renewal date). Then, the requested program list to be submitted with your renewal application should cover the previous 12-month period based on the renewal date or August 1, 2012 through July 31, 2013.
For the desk audit process, we are confirming that the responses to your most recent renewal application are correct and that you do comply with the Standards. So, if you are notified in July 2013 that you have been selected for a desk audit and your organization renews its membership in May, then, we are looking at the time period of May 1, 2012 through April 30, 2013.
If you are ever in doubt, please feel free to contact your account administrator. We are always happy to assist.
My application to the National Registry was denied and I don’t agree with the findings. What can I do?
When potential providers apply to The National Registry of CPE Sponsors, they undergo a rigorous application review process. Provider applications are approved based on how well the application and submitted documentation comply with the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs (Standards) and National Registry policies. If an organization plans to offer group-internet-based or self study programs, these organizations also undergo a content review. From time to time, organizations may not meet the Standards and receive an application denial from NASBA. Similarly, sometimes existing organizations are removed from the National Registry for failure to maintain the Standards and National Registry guidelines, which might be discovered during a random desk audit or from a complaint.
The appeal process exists to provide potential applicants and existing sponsors with due process regarding an adverse decision. The appeal must be addressed to the National Registry and include a written outline specifying the reasons for reconsideration. The appeal must be received by the National Registry within 30 days of membership denial or removal. This appeal will be brought before the CPE Standards Working Group, who is responsible for addressing concerns regarding the implementation and application of the Standards.
In a formal appeal, the potential or existing sponsor should explain the specific Standard(s) and/or policies that it believes were misapplied by NASBA during the application or desk audit process. The sponsor should also provide detailed explanations as to why they deviated from the Standards and/or NASBA policies. Some of these explanations could include educational or business reasons for such deviation. An effective way to format an appeal letter is to provide an explanation that corresponds to the findings as listed by NASBA. An appeal is not an opportunity to state agreement with review outcome findings or to provide corrective actions to remedy issues of non-compliance.
If the response from the National Registry/CPE Working Group is unfavorable, the CPE program sponsor may appeal the decision to NASBA’s CPE Committee. The second appeal must be in writing and delivered to the National Registry within 30 days of the date of notification from the National Registry denying the first appeal. The CPE Committee will review the original application or desk audit materials in conjunction with information provided in the appeal process to make a final determination. The final decision of the CPE Committee will be communicated to the CPE program sponsor or potential sponsor in writing.
As a CPE provider, what are my responsibilities for attendance monitoring and record keeping for a CPE program?
CPE program sponsors are required to monitor group learning participants to assign the correct number of CPE credits. A participant’s self-certification of attendance alone is not sufficient.
For the group live delivery method, the most common method of attendance monitoring is the use of sign-in/sign-out attendance logs. However, that method may not be the best choice for every CPE event scenario. We have had sponsors use proctors/event administrators to monitor attendance; use stickers on attendance sheets for attendance at individual sessions within an event; use code submissions through mobile devices using technology such as Poll Everywhere; and use bar code scanning for large events. Attendance monitoring methods are at the sponsor’s discretion. The key is that the attendance monitoring should provide the CPE program sponsor with a level of comfort, and ensure that the CPE credits awarded to a participant are accurate. For the group Internet-based delivery method, CPE program sponsors must employ some type of real time monitoring mechanism to verify that participants are engaged for the duration of the course. The monitoring mechanism must be of sufficient frequency and lack predictability. Also, the monitoring mechanism must employ at least three instances of interactivity completed by the participant per CPE credit.
CPE program sponsors are required to retain adequate documentation regarding each CPE program event for a minimum of five years. Specific details on items to retain can be found in Standard No. 19. National Registry staff review this documentation during desk audits. When reviewers are unable to confirm attendance, the lack of adequate documentation becomes an audit deficiency. At a minimum, sponsors must retain the following:
Additionally, Standard No. 19 provides specific guidance on the documentation to retain by CPE program sponsors who are using the self-study delivery method for the determination of CPE credits using pilot testing or the word count formula methods.
Adherence to NASBA standards, policies and procedures shows the public that CPE program sponsors have an ongoing commitment to provide quality CPE programs. Moreover, there are supplementary benefits of proper documentation.
I received a request for modification regarding the non-compliance of the course learning objectives. How can I write compliant learning objectives?
The Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education Programs (Standards) states specifically that learning activities “must be based on relevant learning objectives and outcomes that clearly articulate the knowledge, skills, and abilities that can be achieved by participants in the learning activities.”
CPE program sponsors are required to provide learning objectives in the learning materials and promotional materials for the learner. This aids the learner in not only ensuring that the course content will provide the appropriate level of knowledge he is looking to obtain, but also the specific skill or ability with which he will walk away. The learning process is dependent directly upon properly developed learning objectives. To create strong learning objectives that will inform the learner of their intended outcome, utilize the acronym SMART. SMART learning objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and targeted toward the learner.
The learning objective must focus on the specific skills, knowledge, and abilities that the student will be able to demonstrate at the end of the learning activity. Here is an example of a non-specific learning objective: “At the conclusion of this course the learner will understand fair value accounting.” This objective does not tell the learner what they will actually know or be able to accomplish regarding fair value accounting. Here’s a better version: “At the conclusion of this course, the learner will be able to list the three level hierarchy involved in estimating fair values.” This objective is specific. It identifies exactly what part of fair value accounting will be learned and the specific outcome that the learner will be able to demonstrate at the conclusion of the course.
A learning objective must be specific enough to be measured. Using the specific example above, “the learner will list the three level hierarchy involved in estimating fair values at the end of the course,” the key behavior is defined by the verb list. To test this objective in a multiple-choice final exam would be difficult, if not impossible. To indicate a behavior that could be tested in a multiple-choice final exam, the objective could use the verb “identify” or “indicate” rather than “list.” Ensure that the verb that is chosen to determine action in the objective could actually be assessed in the method of assessment utilized within the program.
The learning objective must be able to be mastered and measured in the time provided by the program. A learning objective that is too general would not necessarily be attainable in a given program. Ensure that the objective is attainable in respect to all restraints of timing, setting, and given materials of the program.
When creating a learning objective, be sure that it is relevant to the perspective of the audience. Would a licensed CPA need to memorize basic accounting principles? No, basic accounting principles is knowledge that the CPA would already have acquired in order to become licensed.
Learning objectives must be targeted to the student considering factors such as age, previous education, and previous experiences. What is important and relevant to your learners? Ensure that your objectives and course content are written with the learners in mind.
All National Registry Sponsors are required to base learning materials on relevant learning objectives that articulate the knowledge, skills, and abilities that can be achieved by participants. Make your objectives SMART and reach out to the Registry team if you have any questions!
My company offers continuing education for several professional credentials, including the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. Do I have different compliance responsibilities?
While the Standards are the framework for continuing education programs for CPAs, they do not prohibit sponsors from offering programs to a variety of other professions. NASBA recognizes that many CPAs hold multiple professional designations/credentials. Some of the more common credentials include: Certified Financial Planner, Certified Internal Auditor, Enrolled Agents, human resource professional certifications, life insurance agents, brokers and dealers.
When it comes to NASBA’s compliance responsibilities and working with multiple professions, there are two key areas that often result in compliance deficiencies.
The first area is course descriptive information (promotional material). Does a CPA know which programs qualify for NASBA-approved CPE credits? Is it easy for the CPA or other professional to find this type of information in the course promotional material? A sponsor should clearly state in course promotional material which programs and program delivery methods are acceptable for NASBA-approved CPE credits and which programs are developed for other professions or credentials.
The second area that frequently results in non-compliance surrounds the measurement of CPE. If you are a licensed attorney, you are required to take Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). Did you know that MCLEs are measured on a 60-minute hour and credits are rounded down to the nearest hundredth of an hour? If you are a human resource professional, your continuing education units (CEUs) are measured on a contact hour. So that means 1 CEU equals 10 contact hours of participation in an organized event.
What does this mean for NASBA-approved sponsors? It means that CPE credits for CPAs are calculated on a 50-minute hour and round down to the nearest whole or half-hour increment. If you are offering continuing education credits for multiple professional designations, make sure the calculated credit for each designation is correct and the information is clearly communicated to program participants.
A sponsor should also maintain the credit calculations for each professional designation with its program documentation for reference and support.
Have questions? Please feel free to reach out to any member of the National Registry Team at 1-866-627-2286.
What are the requirements of program knowledge levels in promotional materials?
The program knowledge level refers to the depth of the content presented in a program. The Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs (Standards) specifies five program levels: basic, intermediate, advanced, update and overview. Properly assigned program levels allow the participant to determine if he or she has the appropriate background to take the course. Let’s review the definitions of the specific program levels covered in the Standards.
Basic – Program knowledge level most beneficial to CPAs new to a skill or an attribute. These individuals are often at the staff or entry level in organizations, although such programs may also benefit a seasoned professional with limited exposure to the area.
Intermediate – Program knowledge level that builds on a basic program, most appropriate for CPAs with detailed knowledge in an area. Such persons are often at a mid-level within the organization, with operational and/or supervisory responsibilities.
Advanced – Program knowledge level most useful for individuals with mastery of the particular topic. This level focuses on the development of in-depth knowledge, a variety of skills, or a broader range of applications. Advanced level programs are often appropriate for seasoned professionals within organizations; however, they may also be beneficial for other professionals with specialized knowledge in a subject.
Overview – Program knowledge level that provides a general review of a subject area from a broad perspective. These programs may be appropriate for professionals at all organizational levels.
Update – Program knowledge level that provides a general review of new developments. This level is for participants with a background in the subject area who desire to keep current.
Basic and overview program levels do not require participants to have a certain level of knowledge or skills to attend the program. To avoid any confusion on prerequisites, sponsors should indicate that no prerequisites are needed for these two program levels in the sponsor’s promotional materials. Intermediate, advanced and update program levels inherently build upon a previous knowledge or skill; this means sponsors must clearly state that previous knowledge or skill in precise terms in promotional material. An effective prerequisite clearly identifies the education and experience level needed by the participant to attend the program.
Sponsors are often challenged in developing effective prerequisites. Let’s take a look at two examples to distinguish between a weak prerequisite and a more effective one.
Example 1 (weak)
“You must be a college graduate to take this training program.”
Why is this a weak prerequisite? First, all licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are college graduates. Second, “college graduate” is vague. Do you want the graduate to have a specific course concentration such as business or accounting? Do you want the graduate to have a certain major? If so, this should be clearly stated in the prerequisite.
Example 2 (effective)
“Participants must have 3 years of experience at the supervisory or above level in reviewing transactions processed through the accounting ledger.”
This is an effective prerequisite because it is specific. The sponsor clearly identified 3 years of experience at a certain level (supervisory or above) in a certain area or function.
Sponsors should make every attempt to equate program content and level with the backgrounds of the intended participant. Properly assigning the program knowledge level and identifying the exact prerequisite education and experience levels allow sponsors to meet this requirement.
My organization is applying for membership to the National Registry. Do you have tips or recommendations to help with the application process?
Is your organization ready to join over 2,100 existing companies who are members of the National Registry of CPE Sponsors? These 2,100 companies underwent a rigorous application process based on the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs (Standards). We want your application process to be equally successful. With that goal in mind, the Registry team has identified the top 5 application errors that we hope you will avoid:
When the application calls for the submission of documentation such as course descriptive information (promotional material), a mocked-up evaluation form and a mocked-up certificate of completion, all of these materials should be from the same program. If the documents are from different programs, Registry administrators are unable to determine consistency with the Standards.
The Standards require learning activities to be developed and reviewed by subject matter experts. This could be met by individual instructor(s)/reviewer(s) or through a team of subject matter experts. Registry administrators expect to receive separate biographical data for the instructors/developers and the reviewers. Why have a separate reviewer? The reviewer provides assurance that the program is technically accurate and that the learning activities support the program’s stated learning objectives.
The program content development section covers program content development policies which include details on how the sponsor determines course learning objectives, knowledge level, the qualifications of subject matter experts and other matters related to content development. The sponsor policies in this section are not required to be course-specific. These policies are an overview of course development policies for all programs offered for NASBA-approved CPE credits.
The program knowledge level refers to the depth of the content presented in a program. The Standards specify five program levels: basic, intermediate, advanced, update and overview. Properly assigned program levels allow the participant to determine if he or she has the appropriate background to take the course. Let’s review an example of an improperly assigned program level.
A sponsor classified a program as intermediate and listed the following details: “There are no prerequisites for this course. However, participants are expected to have a foundation of accounting skills through prior education or relevant work experience.”
Why is this an improperly assigned program level? Intermediate, advanced and update program levels inherently build upon a previous knowledge or skill; this means sponsors must clearly state that previous knowledge or skill in precise terms in promotional material.
CPE credits for CPAs are based on a 50-minute hour. This means that sponsored learning activities are measured by actual program length, with one 50-minute period equal to one CPE credit. Only learning content portions of programs qualify toward eligible credit amounts. Time for activities outside of actual learning content including, for example, welcome and introductions, housekeeping instructions, and breaks is not accepted toward credit.
Please be sure to round down to the nearest whole of half-hour CPE credit. Not all state accountancy boards accept half-hour increments, so be sure to review your state’s CPE calculation rules.
What’s the best way to calculate the CPE credits? Add up all of the minutes that comprise learning content of a program and then divide by 50. Don’t forget to allocate the CPE credit according to the NASBA-approved field of study classifications. If you are using multiple fields of study, allocate the CPE credits per each field of study.
My organization is applying for membership to the National Registry. Do you have tips or recommendations to help with the application process? Part Two
You've worked hard to gather your initial QAS self study application materials. Did you know that failure to submit appropriate documentation can delay your application? Don't let omitting key documentation impact your approval date. Here are five common omission errors that we want you to avoid.
1. Course Access Information
You must submit a complete program for review. NASBA reviewers look for components that are specific to QAS self study. For this reason, NASBA reviewers must have log-in information to begin the review process. Failure to include this information will result in a longer processing time.
2. CPE Calculation Documentation
QAS self study sponsors can choose two methods for calculating CPE credits. The two methods are pilot testing and the word count formula. Each method requires different supporting CPE calculation documentation, which is clearly specified in Standard No. 14.
3. Biographical Data
Learning activities must be developed and reviewed by individuals or teams that are subject matter experts. Why have a separate reviewer? The reviewer provides assurance that the program is technically accurate and addresses the program's stated learning objectives. We require biographical information to verify the expertise of the developers and reviewers. Review Standards Nos. 4 and 5 for more details on the requirements of developers and reviewers.
4. Review Questions and Answers and Feedback
QAS self study sponsors are required to use program materials that "guide the participant through the learning process." Sponsors provide guidance through the use of review questions that must include evaluative and reinforcement feedback. Be sure to review Standard No. 8 for guidance in determining in appropriate review question types and proper feedback.
5. Final Examination Question and Answers
QAS self study are required to "provide evidence of satisfactory completion of the course." To meet the requirement, self study programs must require participants to successfully complete a final examination with a minimum passing grade of 70%. Be sure to include an answer key with the final examination questions when submitting the application. For more details on final examination requirements, review Standards No. 8, paragraph 4.
All cited references refer to the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs, Revised January 2012. Need more assistance? Contact us at email@example.com or toll free at 866-627-2286.
My I received an initial application approval letter. What does this mean? If I want to offer another course for CPE credit, do I need to submit that course to NASBA for review?
Completion of Initial Application Approval Letter
Successful completion of the initial application, including passing administrative and content reviews, results in approval for membership on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. First, you will receive an email with your approval letter. The email will be from a salesforce.com email extension address (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line, “National Registry of CPE Sponsors – Application Status – Approved.” The approval letter contains your unique 6-digit sponsor identification number, approved delivery method, program offering level, renewal date (which is one year from the first of the month of the initial approval date) and logo usage guidelines.
Approval is awarded at an organizational level for a specific delivery method(s) and for a specific program offering range. In other words, the National Registry does not grant approval on a course-by-course basis. Sponsors should refrain from using language to indicate specific course approval through NASBA. Why?
Several sponsors offer programs to audiences who do not require NASBA approved credits. For example, some sponsors offer programs for professionals such as a certified financial planner, a licensed attorney or an enrolled agent. Some sponsors, for a variety of reasons, may not offer all of their programs for NASBA approved credits. In these and similar situations, the NASBA sponsor should clearly indicate which programs and delivery methods are intended for NASBA approved credits, and which programs are not.
How can sponsors provide this notice?
Sponsors should indicate such information on their course description material such as course catalogs, brochures, emails and websites. Some sponsors include a separate accreditation page on their website to inform participants about the program(s) and program delivery approval.
Adding Additional Courses
Because approval on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors is at the organization level and not course by course, a sponsor does not need to submit program materials to NASBA when adding courses to their program offerings for CPE credits. The expectation is that any additional courses will follow the same methodology used for the program submitted in the initial application, and be in compliance with the CPE Standards by the application review process. The sponsor is subject to a compliance audit to make sure programs meet CPE Standards and NASBA requirements.
If you have any questions regarding a sponsor’s initial application approval, please contact your Registry account administrator. If you’re not sure who to contact, please reach out to any Registry team member at: 1-866-627-2286.