The History of Accreditation
A Brief History of Accreditation in the United States
The practice of accreditation in the United States began in the early 1960's as a means for post-secondary educational institutions (colleges and universities) to demonstrate to the Federal government a basic level of quality in their institution and programs for the purpose of certifying eligibility to receive Federal funds, which include Stafford loans, grants, and research monies.
A non-governmental peer process of evaluation of post-secondary educational institutions and programs was established, developed and administered by private educational associations and commissions of regional or national scope.
The United States Department of Education recognizes, for the purpose of accrediting institutions of post-secondary education, six regional accrediting agencies, and one national accrediting agency. The recognition by the United States Department of Education of accrediting agencies applies ONLY to post-secondary education.
It is important to note that there are no federally recognized accrediting agencies for elementary and secondary schools.
Accreditation, and the requirement of accreditation, for elementary and secondary schools is regulated by the States with wide variation in its application.
For the same reason that accreditation was initiated for post-secondary education, accreditation became the means for States to identify and qualify elementary and secondary public schools looking to receive federal funds allocated to States for federally-mandated programs and State funds distributed to schools through their State Department of Education.
The six regional accrediting associations, aware of the fiscal opportunity available in elementary and secondary school accreditation, expanded their accrediting field to include a commission for elementary and secondary schools. The United States Department of Education did not extend its recognition of the six regional accrediting associations and commissions to include elementary and secondary schools.
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