1. 1930: ASHA Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA)

We find the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA)is central to ASHA curriculum development, or the lack thereof. Accreditation policy evolved primarily during the tenure of executive director Kenneth Johnson.


1925: ASHA (i.e., American Academy of Speech Correction) was established as a parlour-room organization. After 1930, developing organizational structure excluding school SLPs was the main goal. The group of speech professors was too small to address standards and accreditation, and the founders were not in full agreement what speech therapy was all about.

1947. Incorporation in Kansas (Bylaws)

1959: National accreditation and educational standards were established:

“ASHA established the American Board of Examiners in Speech Pathology and Audiology (ABESPA) in 1959 to foster the goals of the Association and to ensure the provision of quality services to persons with communication disorders. ABESPA designated the Educational Training Board…to evaluate programs that offered master’s degrees in audiology and speech language pathology and that submitted voluntary applications for accreditation.”

“ASHA first awarded accreditation to graduate education programs in audiology and speech-language pathology in 1965.”

1980: ABESPA was replaced by the Council on Professional Standards in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology (the Standards Council) by the elected members of the legislative Council.

The Standards Council was established as a “SEMI-AUTONOMOUS” entity and was “… responsible for establishing and monitoring all standards programs of the Association.”

“The standards were implemented by three operating boards—the Educational Standards Board, the Professional Services Board, and the Clinical Certification Board. The Standards Council also arbitrated appeals of decisions rendered by the operating boards.”


Director Kenneth Johnson was the key person in setting up accreditation:

“Johnson, who directed ASHA’s national office from 1958 until his retirement in 1980, oversaw the organization during a period of enormous growth. During his 22 years at the helm, ASHA’s membership reached 37,000, a nearly tenfold increase. And, when he retired, the association and its staff of 75 were preparing to move into a spacious new headquarters in Rockville, MD, a far cry from the two rented rooms in Washington, DC, where he began his tenure” (http:// journals.lww.com/thehearingjournal).

During Johnson’s tenure several administrative decisions continue to influence ASHA curriculum:

1. In the tradition of Wendell Johnson, Johnson made the position of executive director autocratic. Membership input was controlled. The elected president’s role was ceremonial. The executive director ran ASHA and accreditation.

2. The notion of “standards” was established as a self-evident truth, and to this day no one questions what a standard is. It is put forward by authority if not fiat — an order.

3. Institutional accreditation was made voluntary, suggesting that ASHA did not have to have strong responsibility for national enforcement. The standards for curriculum were made as non-intrusive as possible. Today, curriculum standards are so vague as to give institutions maximum latitude for doing what they want. That angle made today’s enforcement of curriculum requirements nearly impossible.

4. Requiring students to earn a graduate degree added requirements but did not necessarily improve the curriculum. Faculty moved their SLP courses to the graduate level, often duplicating content from undergraduate courses. Although language was added there was resistance to new content. Language was forced in by grassroots demand. Adding more courses did not guarantee a modern curriculum but it did ensure greater revenue to the Association.

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