Proposal aims for uniformity in CPE credit increments

By Ken Tysiac

CPAs would be able to earn continuing professional education credits in increments of one-fifth, one-half, or whole credits for all instructional delivery methods except nano-learning under an amended proposal issued Monday.

The AICPA and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) originally proposed revisions to the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education Programs on May 19. The original exposure draft included the proposed addition of two new instructional delivery methods—nano-learning and blended learning.

Nano-learning refers to information provided in short, 10-minute increments that often covers specific topics, such as short videos that CPAs can view to help master certain tasks. Blended learning combines multiple delivery methods, such as live instruction and on-demand self-study.

Comments revealed that under the original proposal, the allowable CPE credit increments were not consistent among the instructional delivery methods. This would have caused complexities in awarding and tracking CPE credits.

Nano-learning and blended learning remain part of the new proposal, as leaders of the profession believe these delivery methods and other proposed revisions will help keep CPE relevant and effective for CPAs. The revised proposal aims to eliminate challenges in awarding and tracking CPE credits that may have arisen under the original proposal. 

In addition to allowing one-fifth, one-half, or whole credits for every delivery method except nano-learning, the revised proposal would require that for group programs, independent study, and blended learning, a minimum of one full credit must be awarded initially before partial CPE credits can be awarded.

For self-study, a minimum of one-half credit would be required to be rewarded. One full credit would be the next permissible increment. Once one credit is exceeded, increments of one-fifth would be allowed in addition to increments of one-half and full credits.

Nano-learning still would be awarded only as one-fifth credit under the revised proposal.

The proposal would provide the sponsor with the discretion to round down CPE credits to the nearest one-fifth, one-half, or whole credit as appropriate for the instructional delivery method.

These proposed revisions to Statement 16 are the most significant amendments contained in the exposure draft and are designed to provide flexibility and consistency without causing CPE program sponsors to rework program materials or requiring existing programs to be remeasured for CPE credit determination.

Additional changes also were proposed in the revised exposure draft.

“These proposed revisions to CPE standards take advantage of a range of available learning options and provide CPAs greater opportunities and increased flexibility in their professional education,” Clar Rosso, AICPA vice president—Member Learning & Competency, said in a news release. “This revised exposure draft makes clear that all CPE, regardless of delivery method, will continue to be held to a rigorous standard. Feedback from our stakeholders plays a valuable role in the CPE standards process, and we encourage all interested parties to review the updated exposure draft and submit their comments.”

Comments can be submitted by email by April 30 to Clar Rosso (crosso@aicpa.org) or Jessica Luttrull (jluttrull@nasba.org).

The AICPA and NASBA jointly publish the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education Programs. The standards were last revised in 2012 and are periodically reviewed to make sure they serve the needs of the profession.

If approved, the amendments would take effect Sept. 1, 2016, for all newly created programs, and at the next CPE program review/revision date for all other current programs.

Ken Tysiac (ktysiac@aicpa.org) is a JofA editorial director.

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