EXCELLENCE

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					Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools


  In Pursuit of




               EXCELLENCE
MIS SION
The mission of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and
Schools (ACICS or the Council) is to advance educational excellence at
independent, nonpublic career schools, colleges, and organizations in
the United States and abroad. This is achieved through a deliberate and
thorough accreditation process of quality assurance and enhancement
as well as ethical business and educational practices.



AUTHORIZATION
Since 1953, ACICS has engaged in the evaluation and accreditation
of independent colleges and career schools. In 1956, the Council was
officially designated by the U.S. Commissioner of Education as a nation-
ally recognized accrediting agency. Such recognition has been renewed
continuously by the U.S. Secretary of Education since that time. Recently,
ACICS was given the maximum five-year
grant of recognition by the Secretary. Since 1953, ACICS has engaged
Institutions accredited by ACICS are
eligible for participation through the U.S. in the evaluation and accreditation
Department of Education in Federal Title
IV student financial aid programs,               of independent colleges and
       ACICS is also recognized by the                  career schools.
Council       for    Higher     Education
Accreditation (CHEA). Degree-granting
institutions accredited by ACICS are eli-
gible for membership in CHEA. CHEA’s mission is to serve students and
their families, colleges and universities, sponsoring bodies, governments,
and employers by promoting academic quality through formal recogni-
tion of higher education accrediting agencies. CHEA is the successor
organization to the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA) and
the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation (CORPA).
ACICS has been a charter member of all three organizations, beginning
with the founding of COPA in 1975. ACICS is reviewed by CHEA for
continued recognition at least once every five years.




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ORGANIZATION
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools is an in-
dependent accrediting agency. It is organized as a nonprofit corpora-
tion incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is recognized as
a 501(c)(3) corporation by the Internal Revenue Service.
     The Council is composed of fifteen commissioners, each of whom
must be either elected by the membership or appointed by the Council.
Each commissioner is a member of the Board of Directors, and in this
capacity they oversee both the administrative and corporate activities of
the Council.
     The Council is subdivided into three committees for the purpose of
reviewing materials for initial or continuing accreditation. These commit-
tees are equally comprised of commissioners with various credentials, so
that every committee can review applications at each level (certificate/
diploma, occupational associate, academic associate, bachelor, and
master’s degrees). Appointed commissioners may be representatives
from within education – member institutions, other institutions of higher
education, or education-related government agencies – or from the gen-
eral public, representing industry, business, or the professions. Elected
commissioners represent member institutions. A minimum number of com-
missioners, including at least one member of the Board of Directors, must
be from the public.



CHARACTERISTICS OF INSTITUTIONS
ACICS accredits institutions operating in the United States, the Cayman
Islands, England, France, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Spain, and
Switzerland.
      Approximately 300 main campuses and 400 nonmain campuses
are accredited by the Council. Programs include traditional business ar-
eas such as accounting, business administration, secretarial sciences,
and computer operations. In addition, career-specific programs in grow-
ing fields such as court reporting, paralegal, computer-aided drafting,
culinary arts, allied health, and electronics may be offered. The current
ACICS Directory of Accredited Institutions, listed on www.acics.org,
contains a summary of all programs offered and a listing for each loca-
tion.

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     Credentials offered by institutions include certificates, diplomas, as-
sociate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees.



ACCREDITATION
Accreditation is a voluntary system of nongovernmental self-regulation of
the nation’s educational institutions. Through the process of accreditation,
institutions and the programs they offer are evaluated and recognized for
quality assurance. The Council’s aim is to maintain the educational qual-
ity and the effectiveness of the private
career schools and colleges that it ac-
                                             The Council is dedicated to more
credits. The accrediting process is a
vehicle for institutional self-examination      than 400,000 students who
and self-regulation. The Council is
dedicated to more than 400,000 stu-              pursue career education...
dents who pursue career education at
its accredited institutions each year.
     Accrediting agencies consider all factors that influence the quality
of education. These areas include:

    Inputs. What types of students are enrolled in the institution? Are the
    faculty members qualified? Are the learning resources adequate? Is the
    equipment up-to-date? What is the condition of the facilities? What are
    the institution’s admissions practices and testing procedures? What is
    the level of financial stability?

    Outcomes. Do retention and job placement rates, employer and student
    satisfaction, and the specific skills, knowledge, and competencies a
    student has gained as a result of the institution’s education programs
    demonstrate successful outcomes and educational effectiveness?

    Processes. Inputs and outcomes are evaluated within the context of the
    institution’s stated mission. Through its effectiveness plan, the institution
    is asked to demonstrate how the results of these measures are utilized to
    develop changes in areas such as admissions requirements, curriculum,
    student services, and information resources.


      Accreditation is more than a purely regulatory process. Through ac-
creditation, member institutions demonstrate their commitment to the high-
est standards of educational conduct. The Council seeks from its members
not mere conformity, but a constant striving for excellence. Accreditation
                                                                         3
   should be viewed as a continuous process, not a status to be achieved
   every few years and then neglected until the next scheduled evaluation.
   Achievement of accreditation by ACICS carries with it the responsibility
   for maintaining accreditation.
         Evaluation leading to accreditation is an evolving process and the
   practices at an institution that meet accreditation expectations one year
   may not do so the next year. Accrediting criteria are deleted, modified,
   and instituted to meet the rapid changes taking place in postsecondary
   education, as well as expectations by the numerous publics for institu-
                                          tional effectiveness and account-
  Through accreditation, member ability. A critical responsibility of
                                          an accredited institution is to pro-
institutions demonstrate their com- vide comment on proposed chang-
mitment to the highest standards of es to these standards.
                                              The Council, through research,
        educational conduct.             attention to educational and mar-
                                         ket trends, and a commitment to
                                         require both ethical business and
   education practices at institutions, attempts to maintain minimum stan-
   dards, policies and procedures leading to institutional effectiveness.
       Only institutions that subscribe to these goals and strive daily to
   meet them should apply for initial or continuing accreditation by
   ACICS.


   ELIGIBILITY FOR ACCREDITATION
   To be eligible for consideration for accreditation, an institution or entity
   must satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  1. It shall be either an institution of postsecondary education primarily
  offering certificates or diplomas, a postsecondary institution offering as-
  sociate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees in programs designed to edu-
  cate students for professional, technical, or occupational careers, or a
  noninstitutional entity offering professional enhancement education.

   An institution is presumed to be an institution of postsecondary education
   if it (1) enrolls a majority of its students in one or more programs, the
   content of which is on a postsecondary academic level and which leads
   to a postsecondary academic credential (such as a certificate, diploma,

   4
or degree) or an occupational objective; (2) enrolls students who pos-
sess a high school diploma or its equivalent, or who are beyond the age
of compulsory school attendance and demonstrate through valid assess-
ment an ability to benefit from the educational experience; and (3) offers
at least one program which is a minimum of 300 clock hours in length.

2. It shall be legally organized; be licensed by (1) the appropriate state
education agency for postsecondary institutions or (2) the appropriate
state agency for authorizing the conduct of business in that state for non-
institutional entities; and have offered its educational services to the gen-
eral public for at least two years immediately prior to consideration of
the application by ACICS.

3. Its mission shall be to offer educational programs which help students
develop skills and competencies to enhance their careers.

4. Its residential enrollment and enrollment in each program shall be
sufficient both to support course work and learning experiences that,
separately or in combination, constitute measurable and defined educa-
tional programs; and to enable ACICS to access the educational effec-
tiveness of those programs.

5. It shall have a sufficient number of graduates from a majority of its
programs to enable ACICS to assess the educational effectiveness of
those programs. Programs offered at any credential level from which
there are no graduates will be reviewed in accordance with standards
outlined in the Accreditation Criteria.

6. It shall be in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

7. It shall be organized as a corporation, as a limited partnership with
corporate general partner, or as a limited liability company.

8. Its evaluation for accreditation shall be authorized by the chief ex-
ecutive officer.

9. Its owners or managers shall not have been debarred by ACICS.

Institutions must be legally authorized by the appropriate state education
agency, where such authority exists, to confer the degrees offered.




                                                                           5
       APPLICATION PROCEDURES
       The Council maintains specific procedures that all applicant institutions
       must follow and encourages administrators to contact staff members for
       assistance.
              An institution seeking an initial grant of accreditation is required to
       complete a questionnaire that explores the institution’s preliminary quali-
       fications and it’s adherence to the eligibility requirements. If a review by
       the Council staff shows that the institution appears to be eligible for ac-
       creditation, the institution is invited to submit the application, supporting
       exhibits, audited financial statements, and the application fee. A current
       institutional catalog also must be submitted at this time.
             Upon receipt of a complete application and a review of the finan-
        cial statements to determine financial stability, a resource visit is con-
                                        ducted to assess the institution’s
The self-study also serves as a blue- eligibility and readiness to proceed
                                        with the self-study phase of the appli-
print for institutional improvement... cation. If this evaluation is positive, the
                                        institution is invited to complete this
                                        part of the application process.
            Once the institution has reached this stage, the procedures for pre-
       paring the self-study and completing the application for an initial grant
       do not differ from those for currently accredited institutions seeking a new
       grant of accreditation.
             The overall goal of the self-study is to provide the institution with an
       opportunity to evaluate its administrative and educational policies and
       procedures. The self-study also serves as a blueprint for institutional im-
       provement by assisting the institution in pinpointing its strengths and
       weaknesses. Depending on the size of the institution, its diversity, and
       the number of programs, the self-study process typically spans a period
       of six to nine months.
              Following receipt of the self-study, a full evaluation visit is conducted
       by a team of educators and administrators drawn both from within and
       outside of ACICS-accredited institutions. The team will report on the insti-
       tution’s compliance with the Council criteria and the accuracy of the
       self-study. The institution is provided with a copy of the team report and
       is invited to respond to it in writing. The Council then will consider all
       information submitted, including the application, financial statements,
       6
self-study, team report, and response to the team report, at its next meet-
ing. The Council considers applications in April, August, and
December.
     The Council grants accreditation to institutions for a specific period
of time, prior to the expiration of which the institution may reapply and
again be evaluated. Grants of accreditation vary in length and are given
for a maximum of eight years. Initial grants of accreditation are normally
three to four years in length.


INSTITUTIONAL MONITORING
Each year, each institution must file annual reports. Institutions report en-
rollment, graduation, and placement rates, and other relevant data. The
institution also must submit financial statements for each fiscal year.
     The Council continuously monitors and evaluates these data to en-
sure that the institution is adequately serving the needs of students. The
Council may, at any time, require institutions to submit supplemental re-
ports related to retention, placement, and financial status.
     The Council, at its discretion, may direct unannounced visits to oc-
cur at institutions that are subject to adverse information, or when gen-
eral operations of the institution may be called into question. The Council
also visits institutions that initiate new academic programs or branch
campuses or that undergo a change of ownership.



WORKSHOPS
Institutional representatives are required to attend an ACICS accredita-
tion workshop within 18 months prior to the submission of the self-study.
For initial applicants, the chief on-site administrator of the main and all
branch campuses are required to attend. For continually accredited insti-
tutions, the chief on-site administrator or the self-study coordinator of the
main campus and all branch campuses are required to attend. These
workshops are held several times each year to explain the accrediting
process to applicants, administrators of currently accredited institutions,




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and other interested individuals. Other workshops offered by the Council
address topics such as evaluator training, institutional effectiveness, re-
tention and placement, and programs. The Web site posts the workshop
schedule. Inquiries regarding the workshop schedule should be directed
to the Council office.


PUBLICATIONS
These publications and other ACICS forms are available at the ACICS
Web site by accessing www.acics.org.

Accreditation Criteria, which outlines the procedures and standards by
which institutions seeking initial and new grants of accreditation are
measured. One copy is provided to each institution invited to submit an
application.

Directory of Accredited Institutions, which lists ACICS-accredited institu-
tions and provides information regarding institutional program offerings.

Summary of Key Operating Statistics, which provides annual enrollment
and financial summaries for all institutions.

Institutional Effectiveness: A Guide to Implementation, which provides
information on ACICS institutional effectiveness criteria and best prac-
tices among institutions.

Annual Report, which provides an overview of ACICS progress for the
year.

In Pursuit of Excellence, a pamphlet introducing ACICS and eligibility
requirements.

The Criterion, the ACICS newsletter (also available in hard copy).




8
 Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
750 First Street, NE, Suite 980 | Washington, DC 20002 | (202) 336-6780 | www.acics.org

				
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