Online High Schools & Accreditation: Choose Wisely

Choosing the right online high school involves more than just picking a school. It involves selecting the right school with the right accreditation. Choosing wrong can damage your chances at getting into the college of your choice. Choosing right can get you where you want to be.

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Choosing the right online high school involves more than just picking a school. It involves selecting a school with the right accreditation. Choosing wrong can damage your chances at getting into the college of your choice. Choosing right can get you where you want to be.

Accreditation can be confusing for those in the business. I can only imagine how it looks from the outside. There are both regional accreditors, national accreditors, and other specialized accreditors. While one would think that national accreditation would be the standard, regional accreditation has the reputation as being of the highest quality. Whether that is true is a question for a different time and article. However, there are most definitely colleges that would not accept a nationally-accredited diploma.

There are six regional accrediting bodies that accredit schools. Being accredited by one of these is the form of accreditation that is most widely accepted by colleges and universities in the United States. Oddly enough we have an accreditor of accreditors called the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA. org). It is responsible for governmental recognition of accreditors.

The six regionals are:

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)

Commission on Secondary Schools

www.css-msa.org

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE)

Commission on Public Secondary Schools

www. neasc.org/cpss/cpss.htm

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACASI)

Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement

www. ncacasi.org

Northwest Association of Accredited Schools

www.boisestate.edu/naas

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

Council on Accreditation and School Improvement

www. sacscasi.org

Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Accrediting Commission for Schools

www. wascweb.org

In addition to the regional accreditors, there are specialized accreditors. The most well-known of these is the Distance Education and Training Council (www.detc.org). Located in Washington, D.C., it has the advantage of focusing solely on distance education. It's prominence is growing within accrediting circles and it is likely that one day it will be considered equivalent to regional accreditation.

Regardless of which accreditor you end up with, you should make sure that it is either a regional accreditor, DETC, or any other accreditor listed at CHEA.org. The only other option would be a high school that is recognized by a state department of education or a public school district. Make sure that it is the state's education department and not just a business license. Most anyone can get a business license to open a school, but it requires a much higher standard to be recognized by the department of education in a state.


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