Indiana Board of Accountancy Action Opens Door for Competency-Based Education

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CPA Center of Excellence helps pave the way for competency- or experience-based ethics education for CPAs

CPA Center of Excellence

A course on ethics seemed like a natural fit with the education needs of Indiana CPAs, and those who take it will be intrigued by the amount of subject matter it covers and how it prepares CPAs to face a variety of ethical issues.

The Indiana Board of Accountancy on Friday approved a proposed rule change that would amend the ethics requirement for Indiana CPAs. The move paves the way for competency- or experience-based ethics education in Indiana, which no other state currently has.

The proposed rule change would keep the current ethics requirement for CPAs in effect, which is to complete a minimum of four hours of ethics education in a classroom setting. But it adds two new options for meeting the requirement: 1) completion of a competency-based ethics course; or 2) achieving verified, relevant experience in ethics through a non-compensated role with a professional or trade organization.

"I commend the Board of Accountancy for their foresight and innovation," said Indiana CPA Society President & CEO Gary Bolinger, CAE. "This action is the first step in changing and improving a learning model for CPAs that is no longer relevant, effective or applicable to the business environment that Indiana CPAs work in and serve."

This action coincides with the development and release of a competency-based online ethics course module by the CPA Center of Excellence®. The CPA Center of Excellence®, which was established in 2014, provides new learning opportunities, resources and tools for intelligent collaboration for Indiana CPAs. It is powered by the Indiana CPA Society.

Currently, CPAs in Indiana and all other states that require continuing professional education, have their education measured by the number of hours they sit in a classroom or spend online. Alternatively, competency-based education is a method of education in which participants must demonstrate mastery of subject material before advancing through or completing a course.

A competency-based approach also enables other significant learning options such as flexibility, the ability to work at one’s own pace, and personalization. It is a learner-focused approach to education, and is regarded as being a much more effective means of skill development. The CPA Center of Excellence® has been a leader in promoting the transformation from hours-based to competency-based education for the CPA profession.

"CPA Center of Excellence® courses are unique in that they provide interactive elements, experiential learning, and the ability to collaborate with other participants," said Jess Halverson Bowyer, strategist - CPA Center of Excellence®. "A course on ethics seemed like a natural fit with the education needs of Indiana CPAs, and those who take it will be intrigued by the amount of subject matter it covers and how it prepares CPAs to face a variety of ethical issues."

The ethics rule proposal began as a Notice of Intent, which was approved by the Board of Accountancy in August. After Gov. Mike Pence approved an exception to the rule moratorium, the Notice of Intent was filed with the Indiana Register by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency on Nov. 13. Now with the Nov. 20 approval by the Board of Accountancy, the proposal enters the rule promulgation process. That will include consideration first by the State Budget Agency and then by the Indiana Economic Development Council. Following that would be a public hearing, and then ultimately approval by the Governor. The rule would become effective 30 days after that.

While this ethics rule change would be the first permanent rule to allow competency-based education, it is not the first time the Board of Accountancy has supported a competency-based approach for CPAs. In June 2014, the Board approved a landmark pilot program in which six competency-based online courses developed by the CPA Center of Excellence® count toward up to two waivers of eight hours each for a CPA’s continuing education requirement. Those courses are based on key business skills such as critical thinking, communications and leadership.

About the CPA Center of Excellence®

The CPA Center of Excellence® continues to redefine lifelong learning for CPAs. It has five main components. The Insight HR & Career Development Toolkit, the handbook CPA Excellence A Quick Start Guide to Defining and Mastering Vital Skills for Success, a series of online interactive courses based on the core competencies, a multi-featured online community, and member networks in which CPA colleagues interact with each other in person and online.

The components are designed to tie together as a complete package. The toolkit is the starting point. The book provides a planning guide and framework for advancing the core competencies. The online interactive courses are new learning opportunities that develop competencies. The online community and the member networks both enable CPAs to share knowledge and further develop competencies.

The CPA Center of Excellence, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana CPA Society. Its products and services are relevant to CPAs not only in Indiana, but throughout the United States, as well as to accounting professionals globally.

For more information about the CPA Center of Excellence®, contact Jess Halverson Bowyer, Strategist - CPA Center of Excellence®, at (317) 726-5027 or jess(at)cpacoe(dot)com, or go to Indiana CPA Society President & CEO Gary Bolinger, CAE, is also available for interviews by contacting Dave Shatkowski at (317) 726-5022 or dshatkowski(at)incpas(dot)org.

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Elise LeBlanc

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