Continuing Professional Education.

CPE.

Been around a long time. What? 40 or 50 years? Something like that.

Same old model.  Hasn’t changed much. Still 50 minute hours (I wonder what committee made that decision?).  I wish they would have made hours 70 minutes. Think about how much more you would get done in a day. : )

Still need 10% of your hours in A&A.  The tax people love that.

But there have been a couple of developments. As of a couple years ago, you can now earn “half” hours, provided the half hour is connected to a full hour. Apparently you can’t learn something in just a half hour by itself (actually that is just 25 minutes).

Some online courses can qualify for group study.

But really, are these developments progress? Seriously. Take a look at what is going on around us.

Take the Florida Virtual School. This is a K- 12 school that takes students through the entire curriculum without bricks and mortar. I recently had the opportunity to talk with a teacher in the school. I was curious (having been a teacher in my previous life) about relationships with students. He asserted that his relationship with students is BETTER in the virtual environment. I asked “how so?” He said that the virtual environment requires a one-on-one relationship with all students. No way to ignore the shy, introvert sitting in the back of the room. No way to avoid the “problem” student. This is not a fad. It was recently reported on by NBC: Online education redefining schools. Virtual schools are not only in far away locations (not that it makes any difference – it’s virtual). There is also the Indiana Virtual School.

After all, if you read the Accountancy Act in most states, there is usually a requirement that the CPA take  “courses that contribute to the general professional competence of the applicant.” The profession may be getting there. New AICPA-NASBA CPE Standards (effective July 1, 2012) have similar language, “Selection of learning activities should be a thoughtful, reflective process addressing the individual CPA’s current and future professional plans, current knowledge and skills level, and desired or needed additional competence to meet future opportunities and/or professional responsibilities.”  That means you can’t call the Society office on Monday and ask what classes we are offering on Wednesday.

And there is a provision for “independent study.” Could that be research? Could that be “on-the-job training”? Could that be a mentor? It could be lots of things. But here is the deal. How do you MEASURE that?  We need to figure that out. It is the public interest to get continuing education focused on competency and NOT hours. And the increasing complexity of the world we operate it demands a competency-based approach. And BTW, the new CGMA is a competency-based credential.

Get the focus where it needs to be and we will figure it out. As young people enter the profession, they will not accept the age-old, hours-based model of continuing education. They are not experiencing that model in their current learning experiences.

All of this is one reason that we are spending time on our “Knowledge Management” project.

Let us know what you think about the need to change CPE. The need to be competency-based.