Every parent dreams of providing their child with a world-class education. Thanks to online homeschooling and distance education programs, you can do that today. Online learning programs are highly interactive and are designed to cater to the needs of individual students. Additionally, they are easily accessible via the internet and very affordable. However, not all programs are equal. This is why parents need to be aware of the validation processes and accreditations for online high school education that ensure quality and impart recognition to online high schools and the high school diplomas they award to students.
What is Accreditation?
Every parent wants to see their child graduate high school with a high school diploma. The purpose of this accomplishment is to ensure that they can then go on to college for higher education or seek employment opportunities. For these purposes, the high school diploma needs to be recognized by colleges and employers. That is why the first step in selecting an online high school should be verifying its accreditation status.
Accreditation is a process of validation that is used to evaluate schools on a regular basis to determine whether they adhere to the required federal and state standards of education. Whether it is a conventional, brick-and-mortar school or a modern, online school in the United States, it needs to be accredited by government-approved agencies. Validation is the process that is used to verify the authenticity and credibility of an online high school education. It involves assessing the school’s curriculum, the teaching methods that are employed, the procedures that are used to carry out assessments, as well as the overall educational practices that are followed. This is all to ensure that they meet certain quality standards and are recognized as valid and reliable.
Why is Accreditation important?
People often wonder why accreditation is so important. First and foremost, it is the most important aspect to consider when choosing to enroll in an online high school. It is such a big deal because it is the primary way in which parents can verify the legitimacy of the school they’re enrolling their child with. Since accreditations are granted by government-authorized agencies, they offer you a sense of credibility and assurance that the education your child receives adheres to certain benchmarks of quality.
Another important factor is that credits earned via an accredited school can be easily transferred to any other school in the country. Whether your child studies in a brick-and-mortar school or an online high school, accreditation ensures that all schools in the United States follow the same quality standards set by the accreditation boards. It also enables students to appear for certain certification examinations in the country. Last but not least, it further serves as a means for self-regulation and continued self-improvement of the accredited institution.
Today, we live in a world characterized by increasing frauds and scams. More and more of them are now taking place online. Therefore, as a parent, it is absolutely imperative that you do your own due diligence before you enroll your child with an online high school. This will ensure that you distance yourself from the so-called “diploma mills” and other institutions that award fake degrees. You can find more information on authorized accrediting agencies at www.chea.org – the website for The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in the United States.
Types of Accreditation
There are two types of accreditations in the United States –
- Regional Accreditation
- National Accreditation
Regional accreditation is the most widely recognized form of accreditation for schools in the United States, and is granted by the regional accreditation boards. Every geographic region in the United States has a regional accrediting agency that is responsible for evaluating and granting accreditation to the schools headquartered in its territory. In fact, it is typically understood that an “accredited school” in the U.S. implies that the school is regionally accredited.
The six Regional Accreditation boards in the United States are –
- The Middle States Association of Colleges & Schools (MSA)
- The Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities (NASC)
- The North Central Association of Colleges & Schools (NCA)
- The New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC)
- The Southern Association of Colleges & Schools (SACS)
- The Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC)
While regional accreditation is typically what you need to look for in an accredited online high school, national accreditation on the other hand, is usually granted to schools that provide career and vocational training.
The three National Accreditation agencies in the United States are –
- Distance Education & Training Council (DETC)
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools (ACICS)
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
As a parent, when enrolling your child in an online high school, you need to be aware of the typical differences between regional and national accreditation because they affect your child’s opportunities for higher education as well as future employment.
One example is that employers in fields like teaching, accounting and engineering usually do not accept academic degrees from nationally accredited institutions because such careers are governed by the State Licensing Boards. Therefore, they only accept degrees from regionally accredited institutions because these careers require degrees that carry special programmatic accreditation.
This is why you need to ensure that the online high school you plan to enroll your child with has all the necessary accreditations. Accreditation by a regional, state or national board provides you with a reliable measure of legitimacy and quality benchmarks you can rely on. It also ensures that the diplomas and degrees your child is awarded will be accepted by colleges and employers across the country.