Indiana Non-Public School Accreditation (INPEA Position Statement)
The Indiana Non-Public Education Association (INPEA) is committed to strengthening student learning through continuous school improvement. Accreditation can provide focus for schools on quality standards and strengthen the pursuit of continuous improvement. INPEA believes that schools should engage in an accreditation process with a recognized accrediting agency.
INPEA recognizes that each of our member schools has autonomy to define and pursue its own unique mission. Therefore, each member school also must have the liberty to select an appropriate accrediting agency. Our schools may choose to pursue accreditation with any of the recognized regional or national accrediting agencies (e.g. AdvancED, ACSI, CSI, ISACS, NLSA, etc.) or with the Indiana Department of Education.
Accreditation has a number of benefits including access to state funding and programs, fostering collaboration and dialogue between non-public and public schools, and providing a common “measure” for parents. Accreditation or recognition is also a criterion for participation in Indiana High School Athletic Association events. Accreditation is also a requirement for participation in Indiana’s exemplary school choice programs, like vouchers from the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program and scholarships from the Tax Credit Scholarship Program
The state accreditation process must not hinder a non-public school in defining 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 accreditation by the Indiana Department 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. Non-public schools are able to use their own evaluation model and process if those models are approved in advance by the Indiana Department of Education.
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 by waiving some state regulations.
INPEA will continue to work with IDOE representatives to ensure that state accreditation reporting processes, both traditional and Freeway, are not overly burdensome to non-public schools, especially smaller schools with limited administrative personnel resources.
In conclusion, INPEA Board of Directors encourages and supports efforts by non-public schools to pursue accreditation as a pathway toward ongoing school improvement.
Indiana Non-Public Education Association Board of Directors
Initial revision – February 12, 2002
Revised: September 14, 2010
Revision approved: November 16, 2010
September 1, 2016, revised.
Revision approved by Communication Committee: January 27, 2017
Revision approved by INPEA Board: February 13, 2017