What is Accreditation? Accreditation is recognition of an educational institution as maintaining standards that qualify the graduates for admission to higher or more specialized institutions or for professional practice (Webster dictionary).
Why is Accredited Status important? Students, educators, employers, industry leaders, and public give particular importance to the accredited status of an institution as it signifies that it meets standards of academic quality. Accreditation assures students that the institution/program is engaged in a continuous review and improvement of its quality and that it is accountable for achieving its educational goals. For educators, accredited status signals that an institution has a formal process for an ongoing assessment and refinement of its program(s). Accreditation helps employers and industry leaders in identifying quality educational institution/programs and thus where to recruit the graduates from.
The purpose and benefits of Accreditation. The following describe the benefits and the purpose of Accreditation:
- Quality assurance of the institution or the program: Accreditation is one of the main ways for a school or a program to assure overall quality to students and the public.
- Facilitation of improvement: Accrediting organizations conduct periodic assessments of the institutions and programs (which are members of these accrediting organizations), thus inevitably facilitating an ongoing improvement of the educational practices of those institutes and programs.
- Smoother transfer: It is easier (although not always) for a student to transfer programs between colleges and universities, if s/he has attended an accredited institution.
- Recognition: An institution’s and/or program’s accredited status symbolizes high education quality in its area of focus, thus student, educators and public consider accredited organizations first for their educational or other goals.
- Employer confidence: Accredited status of an institution or a program helps employers assess job applicants’ credentials/training.
Criteria for Accreditation. Accrediting organizations evaluate institutions/programs/schools based on the following:
- Policies and student services
The accreditation is granted only to those institutions/programs/schools that meet the strict standards and all the requirements set by the accrediting entities.?
Accrediting Organization is an independent body that objectively judges an institution based on their (i) ability to maintain suitable standards, (ii) credentials.
Many accrediting entities provide information on accreditation, requirements and assessment of teaching programs. Such requirements may differ from one accrediting organization to another. We have indicated some of the accrediting entities below for your reference (source of information on these organizations: Wikipedia)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges - official academic body responsible for the accreditation of public and private universities, colleges, secondary and elementary schools in the United States and foreign institutions of American origin (California, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, Northern Marianas Islands, Palau, and schools for American children in Asia).
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools - membership organization, consisting of colleges, universities, and schools in 19 U.S. states, that is engaged in educational accreditation (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges - regional accreditation association providing educational accreditation for all levels of education, from pre-kindergarten to the doctoral level, in the six-state New England region (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont).
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools - a voluntary, peer-based, non-profit association dedicated to educational excellence and improvement through peer evaluation and accreditation in the Mid-Atlantic United States (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and schools for American children in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East).
- Northwest Accreditation Commission - an organization based in Boise, Idaho, which accredits a variety of schools, including K-12, elementary, middle and high schools, schools offering distance education, non-degree-granting post-secondary institutions, special purpose supplementary education, travel education, and trans-regional schools (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington ).
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools - one of the six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. This agency accredits over 13,000 public and private educational institutions ranging from preschool to college level in the Southern United States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia).
The Accrediting Agency Evaluation Unit
According to U.S. Education System website, the Accrediting Agency Evaluation Unit has been established within the Department of Education to deal with accreditation matters. Located in the Office of Postsecondary Education, the Unit carries out the following major functions with respect to accreditation:
- Conduct a continuous review of standards, policies, procedures, and issues in the area of the Department of Education's interests and responsibilities relative to accreditation;
- Administer the process whereby accrediting agencies and State approval agencies secure initial and renewed recognition by the Secretary of Education;
- Serve as the Department's liaison with accrediting agencies and State approval agencies;
- Provide consultative services to institutions, associations, State agencies, other Federal agencies, and Congress regarding accreditation;
- Interpret and disseminate policy relative to accreditation issues in the case of all appropriate programs administered by the Department of Education;
- Conduct and stimulate appropriate research; and
- Provide support for the Secretary's National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity
Ellenwood Academy is internationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission International (“ACI”). ACI is the world's largest non-governmental accrediting organization for schools, colleges, institutes, and seminaries. ACI holds as its primary objective the encouragement and maintenance of sound scholarship and the highest academic achievement in the areas of private education. Quality education is the ACI’s goal at all times. More specifically, ACI’s purpose is the preparation of quality education in private schools, colleges, institutes and theological seminaries. It is a non-governmental body and makes no claim to be connected with the U.S. Federal government or any State Government.
ACI conducts site visits, which consist of auditing our student files, process, procedures, documentation, and facilities to insure that we the Ellenwood Academy is in compliance with its guidelines and meeting the high standards set by this organization.
A degree covers the major taken with that degree. Current or a prospective student must understand that credits completed for a particular type of program may not be transferred to another type of program. It is exclusively up to the receiving institution to decide whether to accept those credits or not.
The job market is highly competitive these days. Most jobs require specialized training. A graduate may have difficulty being hired in a field that s/he is not certified/trained for.