Accreditation is a voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by American universities and secondary schools. Today, to demonstrate educational quality, accreditation is used by education providers of all types from traditional schools to distance learning providers to tutoring centers serving all ages of students from toddlers to adults. Accreditation engages the school community in meeting high quality standards, implementing a continuous improvement process, and engaging in quality assurance through internal and external review. Accredited schools demand rigor, use data to make in-formed decisions, and approach the documentation of results with discipline. Accredited schools invite external scrutiny and welcome the constructive feedback of peers.
What are the benefits of accreditation?
- A distinctive mark of quality recognized internationally, that affords external recognition of the school’s commitment to quality Standards based on educational research and best practice.
- Clear and intuitive processes for school improvement that are grounded in best practices from the education and business fields.
- A framework and support system to help meet and exceed local, state, national, and appropriate international requirements.
- Professional development opportunities such as service on review teams, annual conferences, and state workshops on all aspects of school improvement.
- An opportunity to gain valuable input, validation, and support from peers.
- A connection to the best practices of over 23,000 public and private schools.
- Customized and technical assistance to maximize improvement efforts.
- Access to a rich and wide array of resources and tools aimed at enhancing improvement efforts.
How does accreditation benefit students?
Students are the ultimate beneficiaries of the accreditation process. When the entire school is aligned and focused on a shared vision for student learning, students win. They benefit from the enhanced focus on student performance and from greater articulation and coordination as they move from one level of schooling to another.
How do schools earn accreditation?
To earn accreditation schools must follow a rigorous accreditation process. Schools must:
Meet required standards. Theses standards require that schools have a clear vision and purpose; have effective and responsive leadership; have a rigorous curriculum taught through sound, research-based methods; collect, report, and use performance results; provide adequate resources and support for its educational programs; value and communicate with stakeholders; and have a commitment to continuously improve. The standards are derived from educational research and best practice.
Engage in a continuous process of improvement. Accredited schools are committed to being better today than they were yesterday. Schools identify a shared vision, maintain a school-wide profile of the current reality, establish plans and assess the implementation of interventions, and document the results of their efforts to improve student learning and school effectiveness.
Demonstrate quality assurance through internal and external review. Internal review involves the schools and their stakeholders. External review involves feedback from experienced educators outside the schools. In both cases, reviewers examine evidence to determine if schools are meeting the standards and achieving goals for improving student learning and school effectiveness.
The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) strives to enable and equip Christian educators and schools worldwide to effectively educate children and young people with the mind of Christ. Thus, students will be prepared for life because Christ, the creator and sustainer of the universe, possesses “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3) The life and mind of Christ is nurtured in the lives of students through redemptive relationships with faculty who recognize that reconciling the heart and mind to God is the foundation of their work.
To this end ACSI seeks to equip schools for greater effectiveness, year after year. The many programs and services we offer are intended to enrich the teaching of Truth—God’s Word revealed through Scripture as well as through creation. We seek to increase the vision for students’ intellectual development through Christian faculty who model a rigorous Christian mind in their teaching and leading. We believe that schools can increasingly achieve their vibrant mission as their operational practices grow in excellence.
Currently ACSI serves over 5,300 member schools in approximately 100 countries with an enrollment of nearly 1.2 million students. Programs and services are designed to assist Christian schools at every grade level including early education and higher education. ACSI is a 501(c)(3)nonprofit organization governed by a thirty-member Executive Board elected by member schools.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States. The Association provides assistance to schools located in California, Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Fiji, and East Asia.
The Accrediting Commission for Schools extends its services to 3500 public, independent, church-related, and proprietary schools of the following levels and types:
- Elementary schools
- Junior high/middle/intermediate schools
- Comprehensive/college preparatory high schools
- Continuation high schools
- Alternative education schools
- Charter schools
- Occupational/vocational high schools
- Regional occupational programs/centers
- Adult schools
- Vocational skill centers
In addition, WASC is piloting the accrediting of supplementary programs and working with distance learning schools on a case-by-case basis. WASC works collaboratively with fourteen associations.