5 States Recognize Private School Accrediting Group

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Alexandria, Va.

The National Council for Private School Accreditation has gained recognition from at least five state education agencies.

The level of that recognition varies widely, from some states that now include the group in their official private school directories, to at least one state where private school groups meeting NCPSA standards enjoy a more streamlined approval process.

But achieving any degree of state recognition is important as the schools in its member organizations pursue greater participation in sports associations and honors societies, and as they apply for grants and other financial assistance, officials of the accrediting group said at its spring meeting here last week.

"It's an acceptance that we are a legitimate organization that parents and agencies can go to," Executive Director Charles J. O'Malley said.

The council does not itself accredit private schools. Rather, the private school supporters who founded the Washington-based NCPSA in 1992 intended it would help set standards for the diverse community of other organizations that now approve different kinds of private schools. ("Group Formed To Oversee the Quality of Private Schools Fast Expanding Its Scope," June 21, 1995.) The council has since then reviewed a dozen such organizations and given formal recognition to their accrediting procedures.

Expanding Influence

Another of the council's objectives is to get states to officially recognize its work.

In North Carolina, the state's private school directory now shows which schools are members of organizations meeting NCPSA standards. Although state officials say this doesn't amount to a seal of approval, the NCPSA believes it affords greater legitimacy to its members there.

New Mexico, meanwhile, has recognized the council's role by eliminating some of the red tape required of private school groups wanting to recommend individual schools for state accreditation. Now, groups recognized by the ncpsa can get around part of the state's lengthy petition process by submitting to the state materials already completed for the NCPSA.

Arizona, Florida, and Hawaii also make some use of the council, Mr. O'Malley said.

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