Is Accreditation Worth the Trouble?
Suppose someone were to walk into your office or classroom right now and say, "OK, stop what you're doing and spend the next week reflecting on your work, talking to your colleagues, and writing about it." Admit it, once you got past the interruption of your routine, maybe a few inconveniences, you might find the exercise a great luxury, yielding new wisdom and enthusiasm for what you do. At its heart, in my experience, that is what a strong accreditation program seeks to do for a school.
In questioning the value of accreditation, an article in these pages recently focused on the accreditation processes of the six regional accrediting groups. ( "Once Status Symbol for Schools, Accreditation Becomes Rote Drill," March 26, 1997.) It might be helpful to look at parallel accreditation programs that have been established by 14 independent school associations on behalf of their member schools.
First, a couple of definitions: Independent schools are distinct from other schools in that they are primarily supported by tuitions, charitable contributions, and endowment income rather than by tax or church funds. These private schools are not-for-profit, are governed by a board of trustees, and, to be a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, must be accredited by a...
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