Accreditation is a voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by American universities and secondary schools, and designed primarily to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards. The accreditation process is also known in terms of its ability to effectively drive student performance and continuous improvement in education. But such definitions, though accurate, are incomplete.
While accreditation is a set of rigorous protocols and research-based processes for evaluating an institution’s organizational effectiveness, it is far more than that. Today accreditation examines the whole institution—the programs, the cultural context, the community of stakeholders—to determine how well the parts work together to meet the needs of students.
Accreditation affirms an institution’s quality. The process also enriches the institution through a process that rewards best practices and excellence. The accreditation process is far more than an imposition to be endured or a process that interferes with the daily activities of educating students. But schools and school systems frequently uncover transformative power in the accreditation process and are able to build true capacity for improved student learning as well as for continuous improvement.
Indeed, the accreditation process itself yields the greatest ongoing return for institutions. When approached properly, the internal self-assessment an institution performs against research-based quality standards can deliver profound insights. Self-evaluation often reveals special challenges previously not have been fully understood. External review however is the hallmark of the accreditation process. Similar to internal self-assessment, external review energizes leadership and stakeholders to address areas that inhibit goal achievement.
Accreditation is a catalyst that propels educational institutions toward excellence. AdvancED’s accreditation process is designed on a standards-based framework that feeds continuous improvement which transforms education beyond the walls of a given school. Educational institutions around the globe use AdvancED Accreditation.
- Elementary, Middle and Secondary Schools
- School Districts/Systems
- Postsecondary Schools
- Educational Corporations
- Distance Learning Organizations
- Educational Service Agencies
- Pre-K Institutions
Accreditation is inextricably linked to educational system and institutional improvement. The process invites institutions and systems to evaluate their vision, priorities, strategies, programs, leadership, and resources. Earning and maintaining accreditation provides educational systems and institutions direction for moving toward excellence.