From the School's Perspective: Is Accreditation Necessary?

I believe that accreditation is necessary for any educational institution. Simply put, accreditation is to a school or college what an academic diploma or degree is to an individual. That objective stamp of approval is earned by meeting a prescribed set of standards. The assessment of whether the school has met those standards is made by independent members of the accrediting organization. 
 

Why is accreditation necessary for a school? Because it confirms that the school is committed to obtaining the best possible outcomes for its students. Parents want to know that they are making the right decision in choosing a private school for their children. Accreditation reassures parents that the school's programs have been evaluated and have met the standards required for accreditation.
 

Accreditation is typically administered by regional associations which have specific areas of the country under their purview.
 
 
Here is a list of the associations together with the states and areas which they cover:
 
Covers: MSA: Washington DC, Delaware,  Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Overseas
 
Covers: Utah, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Montana and Costa Rica
 
Covers: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming
 
Let's start our discussion with this question: what if a school you are looking at is not accredited? Does it matter?
 
Does Accreditation Matter?

There are plenty of fine private schools which are not accredited. But the fact that they are not accredited means that you and I have to do a lot more basic due diligence as we evaluate unaccredited schools. Many of the foundational issues which an accreditation process covers in great detail now become our responsibility to investigate. Think of this investigation just like the inspection which you commission when you put an offer on a house. The house looks perfect. But is its infrastructure perfect? Are there flaws which are not readily apparent? The inspector's report will reveal the good and the items which need fixing.  That's basically how accreditation works. The properly executed accreditation process celebrates the school's good points and offers suggestions for fixing what is deficient.
 

Does Accreditation Matter for College Admissions?

Some experts claim that it doesn't matter much whether or not a high school or school district is accredited. The issue surfaces any time a school or a school district loses its accreditation or is threatened with its loss. The truth of the matter is that accreditation is just one piece of the admissions profile for candidates. I was unable to find any examples of a college rejecting an otherwise well-qualified candidate simply because she had the misfortune to graduate from a school which had lost its accreditation. [Source: Maureen Downey . . .read more
The National Tutoring Association has crafted a fine Code of Ethics for its members. While I am well aware that most tutors do not belong to a national organization such as the NTA, nonetheless the NTA's Code of Ethics present a set of guidelines by which you and I as parents can evaluate the tutors we hire for our children. For sake of this discussion I also include any teacher who primarily works on a 1 on 1 basis as a tutor. For example, piano, art and dance instructors, as well as the math and English tutors you will expect to encounter.
 
Using the NTA's Code of Ethics I have offered comments on each of their tenets. Use these comments to help you assess and evaluate any tutor you hire.
 
Code of Ethics
The National Tutoring Association is dedicated to providing its members with opportunities to achieve and maintain high professional standards for tutors and administrators of tutoring programs and services.
 
I understand that my role as a tutor is to enable students to do their own work using the best learning approach possible.  
 
RK: The extra time and attention which a tutor affords his students makes it possible for them to understand the material presented. More importantly a tutor can take time to explain the variations and possibilities inherent in the original problem so that his student is able to recognize them when they do occur. Equipping students to do their own work is vital.

 

I will provide honest feedback in the . . .read more
The independent school admissions process varies greatly from one school to another. There is, however, one critical requirement that is truly universal--the interview.  Students who apply to an independent school for admission to grades 6-12 are required to meet with an admissions officer in a one-on-one or small group setting.  You worry as a parent that your child simply can’t have the maturity or know-how to converse in the manner required with a strange adult who is lobbing questions at your child.   Yes, this can be anxiety producing for even the most savvy-minded parent.  But, I’d like to help reframe your thinking on the admissions interview.  
 

 
 
A Window into Your Child's Personality

The interview offers an admissions committee a window into your child’s personality--his or her academic and extra-curricular interests, unique passions, and other skills that matter to your son or daughter.  Keep in mind that the interview can be as short as 10 minutes for a younger child and up to 45 for the high school candidate.  The interviewer is focused on evaluating your child’s academic potential and overall personality by engaging them in a guided conversation that centers on your child’s current school experience, particular strengths--academic, as well as, athletic, artistic, service, leadership, and other special interests.
 
It may help to think of the interview as a detailed conversation for your child with a trained teacher.  It is the job of the admissions officer to establish a rapport with your child.  Admissions officers . . .read more
Thinking about sending your child to private school? There are many reasons why you should consider sending your child to private school. What is important as you begin this process is not to reinvent the wheel. Most of us parents have had the same concerns as you are having about your child's education. We all want our children to receive the very best education possible so that they are positioned for success in later life.

Start by writing down all the reasons which you can think of for wanting to give your child a private school education. Then compare them with my four top reasons for doing that.
 
1. You want your child to receive specialized instruction from well-qualified instructors. 
 

For example, perhaps she has special needs.You can certainly arrange for your local public school to develop an IEP or Individualized Education Program for your child. This is mandated by a federal law known as Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. While your child's needs will certainly be identified and a program of instruction devised for her, you would be wise to explore the options a specialized private school offers. Why? Because depending on the public school district in your area resources often are spread very thin. When you send your child to private school for special needs, she will be taught by credentialled, highly skilled teachers and paraprofessionals throughout the school day. The small class in this photo says it all.

 
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