Educational accreditation
Educational accreditation is a type of quality assurance
Quality Assurance
Quality assurance, or QA for short, is the systematic monitoring and evaluation of the various aspects of a project, service or facility to maximize the probability that minimum standards of quality are being attained by the production process...

 process under which services and operations of educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met. If standards are met, accredited status is granted by the agency.

In most countries in the world, the function of educational accreditation
Accreditation is a process in which certification of competency, authority, or credibility is presented.Organizations that issue credentials or certify third parties against official standards are themselves formally accredited by accreditation bodies ; hence they are sometimes known as "accredited...

 is conducted by a government organization, such as a ministry of education. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, however, a quality assurance process exists that is independent of government and performed by private membership associations. The U.S. accreditation process developed in the late 19th century and early 20th century after educational institutions perceived a need for improved coordination and articulation between secondary
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 and post-secondary educational institutions, along with standardization of requirements between the two levels.

Higher education accreditation

Accreditation of higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 varies by jurisdiction and may be focused on either or both the institution or the programs of study.

Accreditation of primary and secondary education

In the United States, educational accreditation has long been established as a peer review
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

 process coordinated by accreditation commissions and member institutions. The federal government began to play a limited role in higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 accreditation in 1952 with reauthorization of the GI Bill for Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 veterans. With the creation of the U.S. Department of Education and under the terms of the Higher Education Act of 1965
Higher Education Act of 1965
The Higher Education Act of 1965 was legislation signed into United States law on November 8, 1965, as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society domestic agenda. Johnson chose Texas State University–San Marcos as the signing site...

, as amended, the U.S. Secretary of Education is required by law to publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies for higher education. There is no similar federal government list of recognized accreditation agencies for primary and secondary schools. Public schools must adhere to criteria set by the state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 governments, and there is wide variation among the individual states in the requirements applied to non-public primary and secondary schools. There are six regional accreditors
Regional accreditation
Regional accreditation is a term used in the United States to refer to educational accreditation conducted by any of several accreditation bodies established to serve six defined geographic areas of the country for accreditation of schools, colleges, and universities...

 in the United States that have historically accredited (and therefore include among their membership) most elementary school
Elementary school
An elementary school or primary school is an institution where children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as elementary or primary education. Elementary school is the preferred term in some countries, particularly those in North America, where the terms grade school and grammar...

s, junior high schools, middle school
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

s, high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

s, as well as nearly all public and private institutions of higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 that are academic in nature. In addition, it is common for national and regional associations of independent
Independent school
An independent school is a school that is independent in its finances and governance; it is not dependent upon national or local government for financing its operations, nor reliant on taxpayer contributions, and is instead funded by a combination of tuition charges, gifts, and in some cases the...

 or religious schools to provide accreditation for their members. Some of the regional accreditors, such as AdvancED
AdvancED is a private organization that accredits primary and secondary schools throughout the United States. The organization is based in Georgia. AdvanceED was formed in 2006 by the consolidation of the pre-college divisions of two of the U.S...

, and some independent associations, such as the Association of Christian Schools International
Association of Christian Schools International
The Association of Christian Schools International is an association of evangelical Protestant Christian schools.-Purposes:ACSI, a protestant association for Christian schools, impacts nearly 23,000 schools and transforms the lives of more than 3.9 million students worldwide...

, have expanded their accreditation activity to include schools outside the United States.

In Canada, some primary and secondary school
Secondary school
Secondary school is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place...

s are privately accredited by SEAL Canada.
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