Suggested Criteria for Choosing an Accrediting Agency
- The accrediting body holds schools and centers accountable to a comprehensive set of standards related to the educational program and issues of institutional health and is a nationally recognized agency.
- The accreditation process consists of a continuing cycle: self-study by the school, visit and report by a team of trained peers, action by the association, and follow-up by the school and the association.
- The accrediting body monitors the school’s compliance with standards and its progress in addressing the recommendations of the self-study and of the visiting team report. The association also regularly solicits reports from schools on substantive institutional change and reviews the school’s accreditation status in the light of those changes.
- The decision-making and appeal processes regarding accreditation status and /or changes in the accreditation cycle are clear and understandable. Policies and procedures are available for public review.
- The accrediting body engages in regular evaluation and review of its standards and accreditation process and solicits reports from schools and visiting teams on their experience with the process.
- The accreditation process will examine the whole school or center, including all divisions and those programs that are included in the accreditation.
- The accrediting body has a procedure, available to the public and clearly explained, to handle complaints that accredited schools are not meeting standards.
Criteria for Standards
- The accreditation process rests on comprehensive standards which schools must meet. The standards address all areas of school life, including the following: mission, governance, finance, program, community of the school, administration, development, admissions, personnel, health and safety, facilities, student services, and in the case of early childhood programs, a special look at the physical environment.
- The standards require schools to conduct a thoughtful assessment of individual student progress consistent with the school’s mission.
- The standards require a school to provide evidence of a thoughtful process, respectful of its mission, for informed decision-making that draws on data (both internal and external) about student learning.
Criteria for the Self-Study
- A broad cross-section of the community (including all faculty and staff, as well as members of the governing body and others in the community, as appropriate) participates in preparing the self-study.
- The self-study includes reflection and self-analysis as well as description, identifies strengths and weaknesses, assesses both the school’s compliance with standards and the congruence between its program and mission, and balances documentation of accountability to association standards with a focus on school improvement. The school will also provide all required documents in a timely fashion.
Criteria for the Visiting Team
- The accrediting association appoints a visiting team to conduct a site visit while school is in session.
- The team observes the program and interviews school staff, trustees/board members, church staff and others as appropriate. It validates the self-study, evaluates the school’s compliance with standards, and writes a report which indicates which standards are met, not met or met with weakness, which is sent to the association and to the school in a timely fashion. The members of the visiting team hold confidential the information they receive and their discussions during the accreditation process.
Criteria for the Association Review
- The association, or a representative committee, receives and reviews the self-study, and visiting team report, determines the accreditation status of the school, prescribes appropriate actions, and sets up a schedule for future reports and visits. The school is given an opportunity to respond to the report of the visiting committee in advance of the association taking action on its accreditation.
- The association notifies the board chair, as well as the head of school, concerning decisions related to a school’s accreditation.