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Opinion & Essays - Aug, 1999 Issue #60

Carol A. Loewith, MA, CEP, President,
Independent Educational Consultants Association
e-mail: CALEdCon@aol.com 

Dear Lon, 

The points raised by Dr. Tom Bratter in his article, “Don’t be Afraid to Ask the Educational Consultant” (July, 1999, Issue #59) are designed to make parents more aware of what they can expect from the educational consultants. As he states, it is important that parents ask questions to be assured of the competence of their consultant, and the regency of the program information upon which their recommendations are based. 

There is a difference between hiring a consultant who is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and one who is not. IECA has always required its members to adhere to professional criteria and a Principles of Good Practice. When parents seek out a member of IECA to help their children with school placement, they can rest assured knowing that the professional they have selected has fulfilled the many membership requirements called for by the organization, including an appropriate degree from an accredited college or university, length of servitude in the field, numerous school visits, and current relevant recommendations. Only 50% of those who apply for membership in IECA are admitted, and in many cases, the reason for denial of membership is lack of experience in the field. In addition to this criteria, there are further IECA guidelines that must be met in order to ascertain the expertise of members who find placements for students with special needs or learning disabilities These new requirements, in effect for the past two years, further demonstrate the ways in which IECA is seeking to assure that its consultants represent the best in the field. 

Your readers should be comforted to know that consultants who earn the designation of Certified Educational Planner (CEP), meet and exceed what Dr. Bratter describes as necessary criteria for offering credible help and advise to families. This designation was established in 1996 under the aegis of the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (AICEP) to identify educational consultants who are at the top of the profession. In order to become a Certified Educational Planner, the candidate must demonstrate: training in the field both academically and experientially; current familiarity with schools, colleges, and programs; participation in continuing course-work; and appropriate letters of reference from admissions directors with whom the consultant has placed students. 

Each five years, CEPs must become recertified by showing that they have completed at least 100 hours of continuing education and maintained their professional expertise by having visited at least 75 schools and programs, taken or taught courses on the graduate level, presented at relevant conferences or written published articles, and demonstrated their skills in leadership of volunteer capacities. 

In numerous publications, as recently as the July 13, 1999 issues of the The Christian Science Monitor, membership in IECA and having the CEP credential are cited as the first two items in a parental checklist when selecting a consultant. Parents can get more information about these criteria (CEP AND IECA) by contacting the central office in Fairfax, VA, at (703)591-4850 or by visiting the IECA web-site at www.educationalconsulting.org. 

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