The purpose of the Accreditation Program is to establish high, uniform academic standards. Achievement of accreditation status represents a standard of excellence that is recognized by other institutions and the constituency of the community in which the school is located. Accreditation requirements identify educational and spiritual criteria which establish high expectations for Christian schools. Parents seek accredited schools because they believe such schools offer a quality program and they are unaware of other options.
To become accredited, a school will complete a self-study evaluation and open their school to an on-site visit by a qualified team of educators who will examine its program to determine whether it is being operated within the published guidelines of the accrediting agency. The process of accreditation relinquishes authority and autonomy to the state and federal education system.
Ravensdale Bible Academy standards are similar to those of other recognized educational accrediting agencies and are designed to meet or exceed the minimum standards for accrediting associations, such as, the Regional Associations, FAANS, TEPSAC, OPSAC and NCPSA but not at the expense of relinquishing authority or autonomy.
In the accreditation process, a school progresses from Applicant to Candidacy to Accreditation. A school may remain in Applicant status or Candidacy status for a maximum of two years after being accepted by the Accreditation Commission. If significant progress is not made toward accreditation within this two-year time frame, a school will be dropped from the accreditation process. At the end of this two-year time frame, a school must submit a new application and pay an additional application fee.
- Applicant Status: A school is in Applicant status from the time an official application is filed with the Executive Director until all items have been received and accepted by the Accreditation Commission. A school at this stage of accreditation may only refer to themselves as being an Applicant of accreditation.
- Candidacy Status: Once a school’s preliminary visit has been completed and the accompanying documentation have been received and accepted by the Accreditation Commission, the school will be advanced to Candidacy status and assigned a chairperson as an advisor. After the school receives their formal notice that their preliminary visit report has been accepted, they may refer to themselves as having Candidacy status.
- Accreditation: Upon completion of the on-site visit, the visiting team will submit a report and recommendation to the Accreditation Commission. The Accreditation Commission then makes a status report and may be granted for a maximum of five years (length may be granted to be concurrent with a regionally accredited school). A school may refer to themselves as Accredited upon receipt of the notice of approval.
What you need to know about accreditation for your child’s K-12 education
Accreditation is one of the more difficult concepts to understand, yet is in all our vocabularies! Technically, accreditation is not required for a K-12 school or homeschool in most states to operate including Washington. Even some situations where it is required, organizations can claim a religious exemption.
Accredited Christian schools or programs are peer reviewed from outside their organizations by educators. Typically an accredited Christian schools have:
- Basically had an audit of educational and organizational practices, structure, procedures, and tools by an outside governing authority.
- Most accrediting bodies first require a school to submit a self-evaluation report covering how they meet lengthy and detailed requirements for accreditation.
- They also need to submit curriculum. Then an educational team will visit the school to evaluate the school over one or two days. Accredited Christian schools must report school changes to the accrediting body between visits. Annual information and documentation is sent to the accrediting body by the school.
- A team visit to re-evaluate is normally required every five years or less.
- To surpass minimum requirements for important components of a quality school or educational program. Most quality accreditations ensure the curriculum follows basic educational standards. They may also check to see if the curriculum reviews or spirals concepts sufficiently.
- Some accreditations require reporting of school or program averages from standardized testing.
- Teacher certifications, training and development.
What are the different types of Accreditation?
There are several types of accrediting agencies or associations for K-12. You will find the links to a majority of K-12 associations below. If you know a school’s advertised accreditation affiliation, you can visit the site and check to see the school’s current accreditation status.
They are officially recognized by many state governments. These are not recognized by the USDE for K-12, but are recognized by the USDE for postsecondary or higher education. The USDE does not recognize any K-12 accrediting associations.
- AdvancEd Joint K12 School Status Search for the Following Accreditations
- Middle States Association
- New England Association
- North Central Association
- Southern Association
College and K-12 Confusion
Many people have the perspective (or attitude) that only accrediting agencies recognized by the Department of Education can offer the word “accredited”. However, the USDE does NOT recognize any accrediting associations for K-12. The confusion comes from the topic of higher or postsecondary education accreditation, where non-religious professional degrees or certifications are involved.
The outcry over non-USDE recognized accreditations taints the image of many accrediting agencies for K-12, because they cannot not be found to be recognized by the USDE. The Department of Education (USDE) officially recognizes five regional accrediting associations (listed above) for higher or postsecondary education. These same regional accrediting associations do offer K-12 accreditations, even though they are not recognized by the USDE for K-12 accreditation. When unsuspecting parents search for a list of USDE recognized accrediting associations, they usually find these regional associations listed for higher education and assume they are also recognized for K-12.
Still, some feel these five regional accreditations for K-12 above carry more weight than other associations, because states that have a recognized accrediting association list for K-12 normally include these. Some K-12 schools feel these accreditations may eventually give an opportunity to develop high school college courses.
The USDE does recognize some postsecondary or higher education religious accrediting agencies, because many religious schools offer liberal arts or professional degrees. Some Bible colleges and seminaries pursue a USDE recognized accreditation because it allows them to offer Federal financial aid programs.
Most homeschool families do not intend on going back to a public school. However, some families do just that. Most of the time, there is no problem before 10th grade if good academic records are kept. One area that can pose a problem is after 9th grade. Some school districts around the United States have policies where they will only accept high school course credit from school accreditations recognized by the state. For example, a family desires to have their student go to the local high school for the last year or two of school. The school district policy may not allow the previous high school credits, and will only offer to allow the student enrollment at 9th grade level. This same situation can happen for Christian school credits being transferred to a public school. Even if you fight to win this battle, it will likely take an enormous amount of time and possibly some legal assistance.
You may want to check your state’s Department of Education website to see if they have a list of recognized accreditations, so you can see if the homeschool program you are considering has one of those accreditations. Otherwise, a school or program that is accredited by one of the regional accreditations above may be the best route, since
*But all homeschool families coursework and credits are accepted.
Biblical or Christian Accreditations
Some Christian schools and homeschool programs do not pursue secular accreditations even though they might qualify. However, there are several “non-governmental”, Christian accrediting agencies for peer review and accountability. Some states recognize them. Along with academic review, they review important areas that a secular accreditation does not. Some online Christian schools elect to have dual accreditations to have a secular accreditation for nationwide strength, plus a Christian accreditation for spiritual accountability and additional academic accountability.
Religious Accrediting Associations
Many are of these are officially recognized in some states, but not by the USDE.
- Accrediting Association of Seventh-day Adventist schools, colleges and universities (North America Division)
- Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)
- Association of Christian Teachers and Schools Assembly of God (ACTS)
- American Association of Christian Schools (AACS)
- Christian Schools International (CSI)
- Florida Coalition of Christian Private School Accreditation (FCCPSA)
- International Christian Accrediting Association
- Montessori School Accreditation Commission
- National Association of Private Schools (NAPS)
- National Christian School Association
- National Independent Private Schools Association
- National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA)
- Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod School Accreditation (WELSSA)
Independent Regional Accrediting Associations
These are officially recognized by some state governments, but not by the USDE.
- Association of Independent Schools of New England
- Independent Schools Association of the Central States
- Independent Schools Association of the Southwest
- Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools
- Southern Association of Independent Schools
Ravensdale Bible Academy Accreditation Position (based on national accreditation purposes)
The fundamental belief of Ravensdale Bible Academy is that we are ordained and commanded by God to educate our children according to the Word of God rather than the ungodly state system. Additionally our state schools are failing our children spiritually and academically. I would challenge you to consider why you are choosing the public school system over God’s commands and your ability to choose a better educational system than an outdated program. Finally, homeschool parents have proven that there are other models other than the public school system. In the tradition of homeschool co-op programs Ravensdale Bible Academy uses the guidelines of national accreditation but we are not enslaved to it.
- National accreditation places a premium on outside governing authorities. RBA is not seeking the approval, recognition, or affirmation from outside governing authorities that have only proven national educational failures and widespread academic stagnation.
- National accreditation believes that “independent” schools submit a self-evaluation report covering how they meet lengthy and detailed requirements for accreditation. RBA is accountable to each family every year to produce results. There is no greater submission to evaluation than your customers.
- National accreditation believes schools need to submit curriculum for approval. Purpose of RBA is to offer unique and special curriculum that is Biblical and specifically not from the public sector. RBA emphatically rejects Common Core and relies on proven successful Christian curriculum like Bob Jones and My Father’s World.
- National accreditation supports that a team visit to re-evaluate is normally required every five years or less. RBA believes in a daily, weekly and yearly Raving Fans annual regular review from our families. RBA’s academic team is constantly reviewing and updating our curriculum, standards, and process.
- National accreditation ensures that curriculum follows basic universal educational standards. As a former Superintendent and Dean of Academics I am very familiar with the universal educational standards and I’ve been involved in reviewing curriculum, scope and sequence of K-12 grade levels.
- National accreditation requires reporting of school or program averages from standardized testing. RBA uses standardization testing combined with student assessments on a regular basis.
- National accreditation demands that only certified teachers are qualified to teacher children. RBA believes that the Bible and a proven track record of successful homeschool education doesn’t require certification or degrees. RBA places a premium on the gift of teaching, the passion of educating, dynamic courses and the love of Christ that drives great education. Consider the worst teachers in the world have certifications and degrees.
- National accreditation places an emphasis on keeping quality student records and/or cumulative folders. RBA has a track record of keeping student records since 2005.
- National accreditation offers academic support options, especially for higher grade levels. RBA does not exist for the sole purpose of matriculating students to and through college. RBA places a strong emphasis individually supporting students through differentiated learning models.