How does the accreditation process work?
There are two key elements of an effective accreditation process. First, a school conducts a self-study, which may span a year to a year and a-half. The self-study is followed by a multi-day site visit by a team of evaluators, which includes experienced administrators, teachers, and trustees from a variety of schools across the region. Through the self-study process, the school's faculty, administration, and other constituents (alumni, parents, trustees) form committees to examine the current state of the school--its governance, curriculum, student life program, athletics, physical plant, financial management, fund raising, campus safety, admission process, community outreach, and more. Using one of the detailed evaluation survey instruments available, the school community assesses all these aspects of the school with the purpose of seeing how well the mission is being accomplished and setting priorities for the coming years.
The visiting evaluation committee reads the self-study report before its visit and brings the objectivity of well-informed outside educators to its on-campus discussions and observations. The team, usually chaired by a seasoned school head or principal, prepares its own report, a detailed document that outlines strengths (commendations) and areas that need more focus (recommendations). That report is presented orally and in writing both to the school's leadership and to the accrediting agency.
Accreditation is generally granted for a seven- or 10-year period, and in nearly all instances, subsequent site visits are made at an appropriate three- or five-year interval to assess progress.
What is accreditation and how does my school become accredited?
Accreditation is a peer evaluation process that certifies that schools meet certain standards defined by an independent entity. Through the process, schools hold themselves publicly accountable to all who seek assurance that a school or college meets certain generally accepted standards of educational quality, operation, and staff competence.
These programs offer a peer review process through which the schools are held accountable to standards identified by the association for the academic program, sound fiscal management, and responsible governance, among many other issues.
The following is a list of Accrediting bodies for Tennessee schools:
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS)