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An Overview:


In the United States, schools and colleges voluntarily seek accreditation from non-governmental bodies. There are two types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized. Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations of schools and colleges. There are six regional associations, each named after the region in which it operates (Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, Western). The regional associations are independent of one another, but they cooperate extensively and acknowledge one another’s accreditation. Several national associations focus on particular kinds of institutions (for example, trade and technical colleges, and religious colleges and universities). An institutional accrediting agency evaluates an entire educational organization in terms of its mission and the agency’s standards or criteria. It accredits the organization as a whole. Besides assessing formal educational activities, it evaluates such things as governance and administration, financial stability, admissions and student services, institutional resources, student learning, institutional effectiveness, and relationships with internal and external constituencies. A specialized accrediting body evaluates particular units, schools, or programs within an organization. Specialized accreditation, also called program accreditation, is often associated with national professional associations, such as those for engineering, medicine, and law, or with specific disciplines, such as business, teacher education, psychology, or social work.

The North Central Association

The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools was founded in 1895 for the purpose of establishing close relations between the colleges and secondary schools of the region. Throughout its history, the Association has been committed to the improvement of education at all levels through evaluation and accreditation. Today, the Association is a membership organization of colleges and schools in nineteen states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming), Department of Defense schools, and the schools and colleges in sovereign U.S. tribal nations within the nineteen states. The Association controls the use of its name, logo, and intellectual property. Two independent corporations also hold membership in the Association. The Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (CASI), headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, accredits schools offering education at the kindergarten through twelfth-grade levels as well as non-degree-granting postsecondary schools. CASI works extensively through state committees throughout the region. The Higher Learning Commission, located in Chicago, accredits degree-granting organizations of higher education. The two Commissions are legally empowered to conduct accrediting activities for educational organizations.


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