Indiana Non-Public School Accreditation (INPEA Position Statement)
The Indiana Non-Public Education Association is committed to improving student learning through continuous school improvement. Accreditation can provide focus for schools on quality standards to achieve this improvement. INPEA believes that schools should engage in an accreditation process with an approved accrediting agency. This could be one of the regional or national accrediting entities (e.g. Advance Ed., ACSI, CSI, ISACS, NLSA) or with the Indiana Department of Education.
The Indiana State Accreditation model has a number of benefits. They include; access to state funding and programs; providing non-public and public school collaboration and dialogue; and, providing a common “measure” for parents. State Accreditation or Recognition is also criteria for participation in Indiana High School Athletic Association events. This takes on additional importance considering the current reform environment in Indiana which has the potential for more state support for non-public schools in coming years through programs like the scholarship tax credits.
Tax credits scholarship legislation passed recently by the State of Indiana. To be eligible to accept scholarship recipients, a school must be accredited by the state board or a national or regional accreditation agency recognized by the Indiana State Board. Opportunities like this demonstrate some of the benefits for schools engaging in accreditation.
State accreditation process should not hinder the school in identifying and pursuing its mission. However the process does require several legal standards that all schools must satisfy, including the state assessments and information reporting.
Any school, whether a public school or a non-public school, seeking accreditationby the Indiana State Board of Education must meet the same set of requirements: compliance with legal standards, completion of a school improvement plan, and review of student achievement indicators. It was established by statute more than 18 years ago and since that time the procedures and process have undergone modifications by the Indiana State Board of Education. There have been recent modifications to offer more flexibility to schools and make the process less cumbersome and more prescriptive. Non-public schools are able to use their own evaluation model and process if those models are approved in advance by the Indiana State Board of Education. The approved models are listed on the Indiana Department of Education website.
The Freeway School Program is an alternative to regular accreditation. This program allows a school to contract with the State Board of Education to achieve high levels of student achievement, attendance, and graduation rate. The program offers greater flexibility for schools to determine the curricula and staffing needs through relief from some state regulations.
INPEA will continue to work with IDOE representatives to ensure that state accreditation reporting processes, both regular and freeway, are not overly burdensome to non-public schools, especially smaller schools with limited administrative personnel resources. We also recommend the review and revision of the Recognition Status to recognize other DOE approved accrediting agencies with some type of reciprocity.
In conclusion, INPEA Board of Directors encourages and supports efforts by non-public schools to pursue accreditation. INPEA encourages schools to continue to engage in both the IndianaState processes and other National/Regional models while working with INPEA to improve the state process where needed.
Indiana Non-Public Education Association Board of Directors
Initial revision – February 12, 2002
Revised: September 14, 2010
Revision approved: November 16, 2010