Reflection, Review, Renewal: the ongoing cycle of Accreditation
NEASC Accreditation is an ongoing cycle founded in professional partnership and support. It is intended to serve as a framework for schools to meet their own unique goals for student learning while maintaining alignment with research-based Standards for Accreditation which ensure a high quality student experience. It also serves to assess the systems in place for ongoing institutional self-reflection, a school’s capacity for continuous growth, and its ability to be an effective learning community.
Recognition as a Candidate for Accreditation is the first step toward membership in and accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The category of Candidate for Accreditation is not to be confused with membership in and accreditation by the Association. Schools which voluntarily demonstrate through their respective Commission's evaluation processes that they meet established Standards are Accredited and thus become members in the Association.
Accreditation is structured in three main phases:
Member institutions undergo a rigorous and comprehensive Self-Reflection/Self-Assessment. The process engages the entire educational community - faculty, administrators, staff, students, community members, and board members - in structured analysis, self-assessment, and planning in response to the Standards of Accreditation.
A committee of peers, comprised of trained, professional educators who have volunteered to serve on an Accreditation Visiting Team, conduct an on-site assessment of an institution which is informed by the school's Self-Reflection and based on the Standards. Visiting Teams evaluate the schools alignment with the stated Commission Standards - a process that includes observations of teaching and learning, reviewing the findings of the self-assessment, identifying areas of strength, and making recommendations to assist with better alignment with the Standards, school improvement, and future planning.
Following receipt of the Visiting Team report(s), school personnel then respond to recommendations stated in the Visiting Team Report by designing and implementing short-term and long-range plans for improvement and growth. Strategic planning and regular follow-up reports are monitored by a commission of elected peers and overseen by a professional staff to ensure that goals and recommended institutional improvement can be accomplished. The four NEASC Commissions are authorized to conduct on-site evaluations at shorter intervals if institutional circumstances so dictate. Additional personalized support and/or intervention is provided, as necessary, to respond to information gathered through regular reports from the institution or through complaints from the public concerning a failure to comply with the Standards.