How Do Online Schools Receive Accreditation?
More and more people are showing interest in the idea of studying in an online school. Interested parties range from elementary pupils to college students. Online schools, on the other hand, are also increasing in number. Through the years, many online schools have been setup. This new way of earning a diploma is surprisingly effective and it has caught the eye on many. If there is a better question to ask, that would be whether the online school you are interested in is accredited or not.
An accredited school is one that has passed specific criteria that measures the level of a school in terms of resources, programs and teaching. It is a school which is deemed fit to teach different programs even without the regular classroom instruction. The accreditation actually legitimizes a school's right to provide education to students who, in one way or another cannot go to school but have the desire to learn. How do online schools receive accreditation?
Accreditation in the United States is a process conducted by a recognized independent agency. The US Department of Education, on its own does not give accreditation to online schools. Instead, together with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or CHEA, their task is to approve if a certain independent agency can give accreditation or not. It is like saying that they accredit agencies who can give accreditation to an online school. The sad thing is that there are schools or groups of schools who create their own accrediting agency so they could get accreditation to entice students to enroll. They create such agency so that they do not need to worry if they meet or not formal criteria for that very important certification.
One institution that has been recognized to give accreditation to online schools is the Distance Education and Training Council or DETC. So how do online schools receive accreditation?
The first step that an online school must do to get accreditation is to ask the accrediting agency for their written standards or criteria. After receiving this list, the school administrators should make necessary adjustments to meet these set standards. They are then expected to do self-evaluation to asses if all areas are met like organizational structure, curriculum and other program offerings and their staff requirements.
Once they meet these requirements, they invite the accrediting agency to their school for evaluation. The accrediting agency will check if all rules and regulations are followed. If they are satisfied with what they see, they will give the school temporary accreditation. They will then inform the school of the set intervals for renewal.
Online schools must anticipate that standards will constantly change so they must ensure that they are always updated. Accreditation can be revoked so they must not be complacent. Upgrading should always be part of their regular plans.
An online school can receive different types of accreditation. The first type of accreditation is regional accreditation. This is type of accreditation that many online schools are aiming for because this is deemed as the best type. Having one will give students higher level of assurance. The second type is the national accreditation. A school with this is also recognized to have passed a certain criteria. Lastly, there is what you call specialized accreditation. This type of accreditation does not apply to an entire school. It just gives passing marks to a certain program of a school like for example, the math or the liberal arts departments.
Let the steps discussed here; guide you if you want your online school to get official accreditation.
Online School Accreditation Firms
- ADEC Distance Education Consortium
- European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU
- European Distance Learning and E-Learning Network (EDEN)
- Federal Government Distance Learning Association (FGDLA)
- International Council for Open and Distance Education
- National Association of DE Organisations of South Africa (NADEOSA)
- South African Institute for Distance Education
- World Association for Online Education (WAOE)