Accreditation agencies assure that educational institutions provide top quality education to their students and encourage institutions to improve or enhance quality.
TYPES OF ACCREDITORS
National accreditation agencies typically accredit institutions which specialize in instruction and training for careers. Many nationally-accredited institutions are proprietary, independent, and privately supported. For example, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) accredits institutions which prepare students for careers in business, allied health, technology, and a broad array of other areas. ACICS has accredited institutions located in 45 states and internationally.
Regional accreditation agencies accredit institutions, and frequently accredit schools that are located in their respective geographic regions. Many regionally-accredited institutions are publicly supported. For example, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accredits institutions located primarily in the southeastern United States, included may be community colleges and state universities.
Specialized accreditation agencies accredit programs in particular disciplines or program areas. For example, the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research (FIDER) accredits programs in interior design. Specialized accrediting agencies may accredit programs in nationally accredited and/or regionally accredited institutions.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION and
RECOGNITION OF ACCREDITING AGENCIES
Like the institutions they accredit, accrediting agencies which are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education must undergo a rigid, external review of processes and practices. The agency is recognized by the Department as “reliable authorities concerning the quality of postsecondary education or training offered by educational institutions.” The U.S. Secretary of Education has recognized ACICS since 1956.
The United States Department of Education (USDE), the state, and the accrediting agency play important and distinct roles in assuring quality in higher education. The oversight process includes a system of checks and balances. Together, these three entities known as “the triad” are responsible for oversight of higher education institutions.
U.S. Department of Education
Determines if institutions are eligible to participate in federal assistance programs and enforces regulations governing the adherence to federal student financial aid programs.
Grant legal authority to institutions to operate. State agencies also oversee consumer protection.
Assure that institutions meet quality standards in educational practices and processes.
ACICS assures educational quality and depends upon the state and the US Department of Education to fulfill their oversight responsibilities. Together, the triad ensures that institutions are accountable to rigorous educational, administrative and fiscal standards.
More information on the accreditation process can be found by going to the Accreditation section of the Web site of either the United States Department of Education www.ed.gov, or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation www.chea.org