This fall the AICPA and NASBA expect to issue revised continuing professional education (CPE) standards that cover the direction and content of new learning methods for CPAs. The objective is to establish a broader CPE curriculum with work-study exercises that will reflect continuing changes in the marketplace.
Nita Clyde, chairwoman of the AICPA CPE standards subcommittee and a partner at Clyde Associates in Dallas, said that with CPAs facing new challenges, the learning curve is more dynamic than ever before. The proposed “outcome-based” CPE model focuses on enhancements in professional competency rather than on the number of study hours completed. (See “ CPE Is Broke; Let’s Fix it ,” Dec.98, JofA, page 77.)
As Clyde points out, “what CPAs take away from CPE is an updated learning experience that will be broad-based, flexible and highly individual in nature.”
The revised standards are expected to recognize self-directed learning and on-the-job accomplishments as a valid study program, establish a comprehensive methodology for measuring CPE credit and introduce a new player in the process—a program reviewer—who will evaluate a participant’s self-assessment learning plan if more than 50% of CPE credit is sought through self-directed study. The evaluator or reviewer can be someone with relevant experience, background and knowledge of what a CPA does—perhaps even a colleague or supervisor.
Under the new “learning plans,” CPAs can assess for themselves gaps in their knowledge and determine needed skills and competencies to fulfill their educational objectives, professional needs and job responsibilities.
This competency-based learning program aligns itself with the institute’s CPA Vision initiative approved by the profession. The new program will continue to be competency-based and service-oriented, will respond to the marketplace and result in a practical, improved work product at the end of the day.
Clyde added, “Once the standards are accepted by the AICPA and NASBA, they would be effective as far as the AICPA membership is concerned, but CPAs are also bound by their respective state boards of accountancy. So, each state board of accountancy will have to agree to the joint standards before they become the rule in the relevant jurisdictions.”
An exposure draft of the standards was issued in February 2000 (see www.aicpa.org/cpe/downcpe.htm).