Who is Cognia?
Cognia is the parent organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and the National Study of School Evaluation (NSSE). NCA CASI and SACS CASI serve as accreditation divisions of Cognia and operate through state offices.
Dedicated to advancing excellence in education worldwide, Cognia provides accreditation, research, and professional services to 23,000 public and private schools and districts across the United States and in 65 countries worldwide and serves nearly 15 million students. Cognia engages 18,000 volunteers and touches the lives of nearly 15 million students each year.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by American universities and secondary schools. Today, to demonstrate educational quality, accreditation is used by education providers of all types from traditional schools to distance learning providers to tutoring centers serving all ages of students from toddlers to adults.
Accreditation engages the school community in meeting high quality standards, implementing a continuous improvement plan, and engaging in quality assurance through internal and external review.
Who Gives Accreditation?
Through AISA we have a dual accreditation with Cognia. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) accredit Pre-K through grade 12 schools and districts in 30 different states.
NCA CASI and SACS CASI are non-governmental, nonprofit organizations founded in 1895, Cognia is the parent organization for NCA CASI, SACS CASI, and the National Study of School Evaluation (NSSE), a research and development organization, and is dedicated to advancing excellence in education worldwide.
Why Does Accreditation Matter?
Students benefit from their institution or educational system’s commitment to raising student performance and accountability. Students that attend an accredited institution gain greater access to federal loans, scholarships, postsecondary education and military programs.
This ethic of excellence ensures that institutions will find rich benefits from accreditation and that parents can confidently make informed decisions about their children’s education, knowing their child’s school is accredited.
The accreditation process leads teachers to critically evaluate teaching and learning with a focus for academic excellence.
How Do Schools Earn Accreditation?
To earn accreditation from NCA CASI or SACS CASI, schools must:
- Meet the Cognia standards. The standards require that schools have a clear vision and purpose; have effective and responsive leadership; have a rigorous curriculum taught through sound, research-based methods; collect, report, and use performance results; provide adequate resources and support for its educational programs; value and communicate with stakeholders; and have a commitment to continuously improve. The standards are derived from educational research and best practice. They can be viewed and downloaded at Cognia.
- Engage in a continuous process of improvement. Accredited schools are committed to being better today than they were yesterday. The schools identify a shared vision, maintain a school-wide profile of the current reality, establish plans and assess the implementation of interventions, and document the results of their efforts to improve student learning and schools effectiveness.
- Demonstrate quality assurance through internal and external review. Internal review involves the schools and their stakeholders. External review involves feedback from experienced educators outside the schools. In both cases, reviewers examine evidence to determine if schools are meeting the standards and achieving goals for improving student learning and school effectiveness.
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