As defined by the U.S. Department of Education, accreditation is “the recognition that an institution maintains standards requisite for its graduates to gain admission to other reputable institutions of higher learning or to achieve credentials for professional practice. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions meets acceptable levels of quality.” Institutions or programs that request an evaluation and that meet an agency’s criteria are then “accredited” by that agency.
As defined by the U.S. Department of Education, accrediting agencies are “private educational associations of regional or national scope that develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met.” Schools, school districts, or specific programs within an educational establishment may contract with an accrediting agency to determine educational quality. (AdvancED and Western Association of Schools and Colleges are two examples of accrediting agencies.) Individual states set their own accreditation guidelines, so accrediting agency standards should be reviewed before contracting with any agency in order to ensure the evaluation will fulfill the state requirements.
Each accrediting agency has its own set of standards by which it evaluates schools. Below are some of the common evaluation categories along with the part(s) of the CLI Model they correspond with:
- Systemic indicators such as leadership, communication, culture, and policy (CLI’s entire systemic model and Governance)
- Directional indicators such as processes, cohesiveness, and purpose (CLI Governance)
- Curriculum indicators such as rigor, alignment to standards, and equity (CLI Curriculum year)
- Instructional indicators such as strategies, mentoring, and collaboration (CLI Instruction year)
- Assessment indicators such as grading, reporting, and data collection and usage (CLI Governance and Assessment year)
The CLI Model for school improvement corresponds beautifully with many accreditation agency standards. As an example, we have matched the AdvancED standards, which are similar to other accreditation agency standards across the U.S., to the corresponding part of our model that fulfills each expectation. As you can see in the document, CLI aligns very well in all AdvancED standards except #4, which deals with personnel, facilities, and services—items the CLI Model cannot direct.