Answering Your FAQs About K-12 Accreditation


When we normally think of accreditation, the term college accreditation comes to mind. According to the United States Department of Education, "The goal of accreditation is to ensure that institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality." However, accreditation doesn't only apply to higher education; there are several types of existing accreditation processes in different industries, ranging from healthcare, construction, food safety, and, of course, education.

In addition to colleges, K-12 public, private, and charter schools can be accredited as well. Understanding accreditation and its importance is tricky, but in this blog, we'll cover the most frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision about your child's education.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation recognizes that an institution meets a minimum of set standards. Essentially, it's a form of quality assurance. When a school meets accreditation standards, it's meeting educational standards.

What's the difference between college accreditation and K-12 accreditation?

College accreditation is regulated by the U.S. Department of Education for higher education programs to participate in financial aid.

K-12 accreditation differs by state. Only about 20 states require their public schools to be accredited by the state. For the rest, accreditation is optional but can be conducted regionally.

What is the accreditation process?

Accreditation is conducted by an accrediting commission. Schools must go through an extensive review process to become eligible. Accrediting commissions are at either the national or regional level, but both have similar processes. 

The process is made of documentation, data analysis, on-site visits, progress and goal-oriented meetings, reports, and finally, the school's accreditation.

Agencies evaluate the following: student performance, teacher credentials, curriculum and instruction quality, professional development, and parent communication and participation.

This evaluation is conducted during an initial visit, followed by a self-study and follow-up process if accreditation is granted. The accreditation agency will provide feedback on the school's strengths and weaknesses. It's up to the school to address any areas for improvement. Feel free to review Cognia's and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation process for more in-depth details.

Why does accreditation matter?

Educational accreditation ensures your child is receiving a quality learning experience. Not only that, an accredited school will allow your child to apply to the college of their dreams.

Students interested in out-of-state colleges or universities benefit from enrollment in accredited programs as some colleges and universities, such as University of California and Cal State University systems, require a high school diploma from an accredited school.

Furthermore, in some states, enrollment in an accredited school will make your child eligible for state-wide scholarships and military-based programs.

Enrolling in an online accredited K-12 school

For parents looking for alternatives to a traditional brick-and-mortar school or homeschooling, an online accredited K-12 school is just one of your many options. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and Cognia, Laurel Springs School meets the highest levels of academic excellence.

Join us for an upcoming open house to learn more about what Laurel Springs brings to the table.