Report on Private School Accreditation

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1 Report on Private School Accreditation by Josie Webster, Vice President, Virginia Council for Private Education Originally Issued July 2004 Amended March 2005 At the March 2004 CAPE conference, the state CAPEs decided that it was time to update the state accreditation/regulation/licensing requirement summaries that were included in the 2000 version of The Regulation of Private Schools in America from the Office of Nonpublic Education at the U.S. Department of Education. What follows is a preliminary report that includes the original summaries followed by the comments submitted by each state representative who responded to the request for information. If you did not have an opportunity to respond to the original request, please read your state summary in The Regulation of Private Schools in America, and send your comments to Josie Webster at

2 Illinois There is no general requirement in Illinois that non-public schools register with, be licensed by, or be accredited by the Illinois State Board of Education, although certain non-public school facilities need to be approved to serve public school special education students. However, non-public schools have the option of applying for registration and recognition on a voluntary basis. A school is registered when it has filed with the Board a "Nonpublic School Registration, Enrollment, and Staff Report" furnishing such evidence as required to assure compliance with federal and state laws regarding health examination and immunization, attendance, length of term, nondiscrimination, and applicable fire and health safety requirements. Minimum requirements for the recognition of nonpublic schools cover the organization, administration, instructional programs, instructional programs, extra-classroom activities, pupil services, school facilities, and personnel. Policy and Guidelines for Registration and Recognition of Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Schools, March From Gary Arnold : Illinois copy is OK. A few of the procedures will change in

3 Indiana The Indiana State Board of Education has established a performance-based accreditation system available to nonpublic schools. The standards for accreditation are the same standards required of all public schools. Indiana Code An attempt to deny accreditation to a school which denies enrollment on the basis of creed is an interference with the free exercise of religion. Opp. of Atty. Gen. 1975, No. 22, p. 74. Indiana State Board of Education implements a voluntary system of recognition for nonpublic school educational programs. The system recognizes the distinguishing characteristics of nonpublic schools and is separate from the accreditation standards available to nonpublic schools. Indiana Code ; Ind. Admin. Code tit. 511, r From Glenn Tebbe : The information in the document is essentially correct but it is incomplete. Accreditation is performance based for placing schools in categories and ultimately if a school does not make satisfactory progress regarding student achievement, a non-public school could lose its accreditation. The State of Indiana accredits schools through the State Board of Education. Accreditation is based upon a satisfactory completion of a school improvement plan and documentation of legal standards. The school improvement plan can be modeled on a variety of regional or national accreditation models or agencies. For example, ISAACS, Lutheran, CSI, ACSI and other accreditation process are acceptable to meet the school improvement expectation. Legal Standards include 30 different requirements that schools are to fulfill. These include fire safety and other health and safety regulations to licensed teachers and administrators. This also includes participation in the state testing program which provides the data for student achievement and the performance based reference above. A listing of these standards is attached. Accreditation is granted on three levels: full, provisional and probationary. The levels are granted based upon satisfactory completion of the above requirements and student achievement as measured on a criterion referenced test (ISTEP+) and aligned with the curriculum standards, adopted by the State. In addition to the accreditation system described above the state offers an alternate program entitled Freeway School. This system allows flexibility regarding state regulations and curriculum, and flexibility regarding some legal standards. In return schools promise to meet high performance standards. These are 1) 90% of students meeting all achievement standards 2) average student attendance rate of at least 85% and 3) a graduation rate of at least 90% (for high schools only). Schools are expected to demonstrate school improvement and have a school improvement plan. Testing of student achievement can be by an alternative to the State-testing program except for the grade 10, graduation-qualifying exam. There are approximately 25 non-public schools accredited through this program. The balance of state-accredited non-public schools, approximately 275, are accredited through the regular accreditation system above.

4 Kansas The Kansas Board of Education accredits public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools. K.S.A (a)(3). Nonpublic schools are not required to be accredited, however. The official custodian of every nonaccredited private elementary or secondary school must register the name and address of the private elementary or secondary school with the Kansas Board of Education. The purpose of this provision is to make available the name and location of the school for the request of student records in the event of a student transfer K.S.A 72-53,101, 72-53,102. Education provided at the high school level by churches or religious denominations satisfies the Kansas compulsory attendance statute if approved by the Kansas Board of Education. Approval is granted for a two-year period based on the following criteria: 1) attendance is mandatory in at least 5 hours of learning activities for each day legally required in the public schools; 2) acceptable learning activities may include parent supervised-projects in agriculture and homemaking, work-study programs or accredited correspondence courses; 3) the program includes at least 15 hours per week of classroom work under the supervision of a capable instructor; 4) students file written reports of the activities they have pursued between class meetings that are regularly evaluated by the instructor; 5) the instructor maintains complete records of the students work and files the records on a monthly basis with the Kansas State Board of Education. K.S.A Supp (e) (According to the Kansas Department of Education, no church or religious denomination utilizes these provisions, since they may operate as an accredited or a nonaccredited private school without the restrictions imposed under this subsection of the law.) From Karen Norton : The information on Kansas is the state regulation as it stands now. Procedure is not spelled out, but what is printed is accurate in terms of the regulation.

5 Kentucky Kentucky law provides optional certification for private, parochial, and church schools that comply with curriculum, certification, and textbook standards established by the Kentucky Board of Education. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann (3). Nonpublic schools can be certified based on the accreditation of a recognized regional or national accrediting agency or by a self-study accreditation process through the Kentucky Nonpublic School Commission. Proprietary schools, i.e. privately owned educational institutions offering instruction in business, trade, technical, industrial, or related areas, but not including parochial, denominational, or eleemosynary schools, are subject to state minimum standards. The standards cover, but are not limited to, the school's facilities, quality and content of courses, qualifications of instructors and administrators, and finances. Student and faculty records must be available for inspection. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. 165A.310, 165A.370. From Lawrence Bowman : The Kentucky statement is accurate and current.

6 New York A New York registration statute that conferred comprehensive power on the Board of Regents to regulate the registration of nonpublic schools was held invalid under the state constitution in 1948.Packer Collegiate Institute v. University of New York, 81 N.E.2d 80 (1948). Nonpublic high schools must be registered with the Board of Regents in order to issue a high school diploma. N.Y. Educ. Law 210; 8 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit (p). Nonpublic nursery schools and kindergartens may voluntarily register with the State Education Department. 8 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. Part 125. Minors may comply with the state's compulsory education requirement at public schools or elsewhere. N.Y. Educ. Law From James D. Cultrara, Co-Chairman, NYS Coalition for Independent and Religious Schools: I wasn't part of the CAPE discussion in March so I hope this is responsive to your request. I read the New York section on the USDOE website. From a technical perspective, the section on "Registration/Licensing/Accreditation" is accurate but not very informative in terms of practical applications and practice. I would suggest adding the following: Registration of nonpublic secondary schools is voluntary, though the State Education Department strongly encourages every secondary school to become registered. The Board of Regents registers nonpublic secondary schools based upon a review of the school program; compliance with applicable laws, rules, and regulations; and achievement of certain standards. Secondary schools which are registered are granted the privilege of administering Regents examinations and awarding diplomas. If a nonpublic school is registered, the Department recommends that the board of education of the district in which the nonpublic school is located accept the registration as evidence the nonpublic high school has an equivalent program of instruction. A nonpublic secondary school may choose not to be registered. Such a choice does not mean that the school program is inadequate. However, a school which is not registered may not administer Regents examinations or award diplomas. In such a case, the local board of education and/or superintendent of the public school district must determine that the nonpublic school is offering a program that is substantially equivalent to that of the public school. There is no registration program for elementary schools.

7 North Dakota Attendance at a parochial or private school excuses a child from public school attendance if the child is in attendance for the same length of time and if the school is approved by the County Superintendent of Schools and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. State approval requires 1) teacher certification; 2) curriculum offerings in accordance with state mandates; and, 3) compliance with all municipal and state health, fire, and safety laws. N.D. Cent. Code ' Government approval of private schools and the teacher certification requirement under this provision has been ruled constitutional. State v. Anderson, 427 NW 2d 316, cert. denied, 488 U.S. 965 (1988). Private and parochial kindergartens complying with state requirements that govern teacher certification, curriculum, days of instruction, health, fire, and safety, and admission criteria may be approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. N.D. Cent. Code ' The Superintendent of Public Instruction has the authority to adopt rules governing the accreditation of nonpublic schools. N.D. Cent. Code Accredited high schools must comply with state course requirements and class period guidelines. N.D. Cent. Code From Tom Frei : The information for North Dakota is accurate as listed. I might add that "school approval" is required for all schools. "School accreditation" is not required for private schools.

8 Oregon Private K-12 schools may, but are not required to be, registered as a private school with the Department of Education. The application for registration must demonstrate: 1) the teachers are qualified, but not necessarily licensed; 2) the owner/principal and employees are qualified by education and experience to provide instruction; 3) the facility is adequate to protect the health and safety of the children; 4) the curriculum considers the goals of modern education and the requirements of a sound, comprehensive curriculum with particular emphasis on the highest practical standards and in secondary schools establishment of academic standards necessary to attend institutions of higher education. Courses should be taught for an equivalent period of time as required for public school students. Or. Rev. Stat Registration requirements are set out in detail at Or. Admin. R through Representation by a private school that it is registered when it is not a registered private school is a misdemeanor. Or. Rev. Stat (2). Registration is renewable annually on or before October 15. Or. Admin. R Private schools offering residential programs for children must be licensed by the Children's Services Division. The standards for licensing encompass the physical health, care, and safety of the children. The Superintendent of Public Instruction will advise on the education program conducted by the residential school. No licensing fees are charged. Or. Rev. Stat Private schools must be approved for the public placement of students for special education services. OAR From Mark Siegel : Oregon is correctly described!

9 Texas Through a Letter of Understanding, the Commissioner of Education recognizes the accreditation of non-public schools accredited by any of the accreditation organizations belonging to the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission (TEPSAC). From Jimmy Ames : The information in the data base for Texas is still accurate so far as I know. Texas is really a non-regulatory state for non-public schools. From George Solana : Through a Letter of Understanding, the Texas Commissioner of Education recognizes the accreditation of private schools which are accredited by any accrediting agency belonging to the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission (TEPSAC).

10 Virginia The Board of Education does not accredit private schools. The Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE), a private umbrella organization of associations whose membership is comprised of private schools, accredits private schools. The Board recognizes accreditation by VCPE member organizations. Schools for students with disabilities must be licensed by the Board of Education unless otherwise approved or accredited. School facilities must be inspected and approved by the Board. At least one unannounced inspection of each residential school for children with disabilities must be made annually. Va. Code Ann et seq. From Josie Webster : The summary is accurate except I would add Virginia Code to the first paragraph.

11 Wisconsin Wisconsin will approve an institution's educational program as a private school, on request, if the school complies with the statutory definition of private school. Wisconsin's criteria for a private school is: 1) the primary purpose is to provide private or religiousbased education; 2) the program is privately controlled; 3) the program provides at least 875 hours of instruction each school year; 4) the program provides a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health; 5) the program is not operated or instituted to circumvent the compulsory school attendance requirement; and, 6) the pupils return home annually for not less than 2 months of summer vacation, or the institution is a licensed child welfare agency. Wis. Stat. Ann If an accrediting agency submits an affidavit that a private educational institution meets the criteria of above, and the state superintendent attests that the institution meets or exceeds the criteria, the Superintendent shall determine that the institution is a private school. Wis. Stat. Ann From Judd Schemmel : The Wisconsin summary has less to do with accreditation, and more with simply being recognized as a private school in the state. In reality, because the process described is optional, and holds little value for schools, very few, if any, private schools seek this formal recognition from the state agency. Wisconsin does not require its religious and independent schools to be accredited by a state, regional, or national accrediting agency in order to operate as a school.

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