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Module One: Accreditation for K-12 Districts and Schools
What Do Teachers Need to Know About Accreditation?

Accreditation is credentialing for schools and districts. It implies to the stakeholders that the organization has met rigorous standards and that their schools are of quality. In essence, accreditation is the report card for the organization. For K-12 public, private, parochial, and home schools, generally accreditation is a process by which an established set of researched standards, protocols, and processes are used for evaluating the institution (Bernasconi, 2004). An accreditation rating is assigned to the organization after a thorough and holistic evaluation of the organizational effectiveness is completed. It is important to know that accreditation ratings are published and reviewed by stakeholders. In Texas, a current listing of accreditation status can be found at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/accredstatus. It is common for parents who are seeking residency within a district to research the accreditation rating of the campus and district.

Teachers are ombudsmen for their campus and district and should communicate pride for their organization and be informed about accreditation when talking with parents. Some example components for accreditation evaluation include the curriculum, program offerings, courses, student performance, mission, governance, finance, program, community of the school, administration, development, admissions, personnel, health and safety, facilities, student services, school culture and fiscal accountability (www.nais.org). Accreditation from state or national organizations give the institution a recognized status among other like institutions and community stakeholders are comforted in knowing that their schools are of quality

Are K-12 Public Schools Accredited by the Department of Education?

The United States Department of Education does not accredit K-12 educational institutions and/or programs (www. http://www2.ed.gov/policy) since the states are the ones who review and regulate public education. Public K-12 districts and schools are governed and accredited by each of the individual state's departments of education. The accreditation process is defined in statutory law and is generally closely aligned to student performance on state-wide administered standardized assessments.

How Are Texas K-12 Public and Charter Schools Accredited?

The public schools, districts, charter schools and campuses in Texas are currently accredited as a result of legislative action that passed in 1993 and designed the accountability system to include student performance on statewide assessments (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/accredstatus).  The accreditation measure now includes student academic performance in every classroom.  Teachers must be mindful of student performance and daily attendance. In addition to accountability measures on student performance on statewide assessments, accreditation in Texas includes the campus and district completion rates (percent of students graduating with their freshman cohort), and the drop-out rates (students between grades 7 and 8) (http://www.tea.state.tx.us/accredstatus).  It is important for teachers to know that the accreditation status of the school is the "report card" and is included in an annual report to the community and published on the TEA website.  Stakeholders are always concerned with the quality of their schools and teachers and administrators can significantly help with communication by knowing and understanding the accountability and accreditation system.

Information can be found at the following links:

How Are Private, Parochial, and Home Schools Accredited?

K-12 schools in these categories are not governed by their respective state legislatures. Private, parochial, and home schools in general have no requirements for accreditation but can voluntarily apply through a variety of state, regional, and national accreditation agencies. There are state, regional and national accreditation agencies these schools can voluntarily apply for accreditation review and status. An article outlining the benefits of accreditation can be found at http://www.cpsb.org/Resources/sacscasi/documents/Accreditation_Benefits.pdf.

Texas schools can apply to the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission which is located in Longview, Texas (www.tepsac.com). Information regarding accredited private schools in Texas can be also found at this site. Some links for private, parochial, and home school accreditation agencies and organizations follow below:

Reference List
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