Top 10 Most Common Deficiencies in QAS Transition Application Reviews

January 2013

The Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs (Standards), revised January 2012, raised the standards for all self study providers and eliminated the differences that previously existed between the QAS and Registry self study requirements. Accordingly, NASBA initiated changes to the administration of these programs to offer one designation for self study programs – QAS Self Study.

If you are a current QAS sponsor or a current Registry self-study sponsor, there is a transition process to the QAS Self Study designation to ensure that the revised Standards have been implemented with respect to all of your self study program offerings.

Self study programs already in existence as of December 31, 2011 have until March 1, 2014 to be in compliance with the revised Standards. A sponsor will not be permitted to apply for the QAS Self Study designation until all self study program offerings (those programs in existence prior to December 31, 2011 as well as new program offerings) comply with the revised Standards. As such, in order to demonstrate compliance with the revised Standards by March 1, 2014, sponsors must apply for the QAS Self Study Designation Transition no later than January 1, 2014.

To assist you in the QAS Transition process, we have compiled the top 10 most common deficiencies or errors noted in self study program offerings submitted during the QAS Transition application process:

  1. Glossary, Key Word Search and the Difference Between Them: Self study programs must include the definition of key terms (Glossary) and the ability to find information quickly (index/key word search). These are two separate components of the program.
  2. Program Knowledge Level and Prerequisites: Courses designated as intermediate, advanced or update program knowledge level need to describe prerequisites in course promotional/announcement materials. Intermediate, advanced or update courses inherently build upon previous knowledge or experience. Include those prerequisite education/experience requirements in program descriptive materials so that a CPA can readily determine if they have the appropriate knowledge for the course.
  3. Learning Objectives: Courses developed without learning objectives, or developed with objectives that are vague and immeasurable, are not compliant with the Standards. Sponsored 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 (i.e., what are the take-away skills or abilities of the participant).
  4. Lack of Feedback for Review Questions: If the multiple choice method is used for review questions, then evaluative feedback must be provided for each incorrect response explaining why each response is wrong and reinforcement feedback must be provided for correct responses. If rank order or matching questions are used, then it is permissible to provide single feedback to explain the correct response.
  5. Deficient Evaluative Feedback for Review Questions: The feedback provided for each incorrect response should be different because each distracter is incorrect for different reasons. If the same feedback seems necessary for each incorrect response, please reconsider the wording of the question.
  6. Evaluative/Reinforcement Feedback for Review Questions Does Not Provide Reasoning: The evaluative feedback for incorrect responses should explain why the distracter is incorrect. Reinforcement feedback for correct responses should explain why the answer choice is correct.  Restating the stem and the incorrect/correct answer choice does not provide a logical explanation why an answer is incorrect/correct.
  7. Deficient Final Examination Questions: Except in courses where recall of information is a stated learning strategy, duplicating the review questions in final examination is not permissible. Knowledge recall is the lowest cognitive level in Bloom's Taxonomy.
  8. Non-compliant Feedback Provided on Final Examinations: Providing feedback on the final examination is at the discretion of the CPE program sponsor. Feedback provided on the final examination must comply with the conditions of Standard 8 - 05. The conditions of Standard 8-05 are dependent on whether the CPE program sponsor utilizes a test bank. Please refer to the Standards for the specific guidelines.
  9. Final Examination Questions Do Not Assess Learning Objectives: The final examination questions do not assess the learning objectives (i.e., using objective-type questions (multiple choice) when the learning objective calls for subjective-type questions (short answer, essay). Learning objectives that begin with “Describe” or “Explain” should be assessed with subjective-type questions. The learning strategies implemented in the course should prepare the participant to be able to describe or explain.
  10. Pilot Tester Knowledge Level Not Appropriate for Course: If pilot testing is used for determining the recommended CPE credits for a course, pilot testers should represent a sample of intended participants for the course. The pilot testers should have the knowledge level representative of the participants that are expected to take the course. Using a pilot tester with extensive knowledge in a subject area to pilot test a basic course is not appropriate.

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