What is the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools?

The United States Department of Education recognizes several regional bodies that are assigned the responsibility of overseeing, approving, and accrediting education at all levels. For states that range from Minnesota to Arizona, that regional commission is the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Easy the largest regional commission in terms of its geographic area, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools covers a total of 19 U.S. states and the Navajo Nation. Programs ranging from early childhood educational centers to major colleges and universities all submit to the accreditation process enforced by the body.

Colleges and Universities: The Higher Learning Commission

The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools splits its accreditation process by the level of the institution being accredited. Public and private universities, both for-profit and non-profit, are responsible for aligning themselves with the standards put forth by the Higher Learning Commission.

The accreditation issued by the Higher Learning Commission is considered institution-wide. Regulators aren’t concerned with the performance of individual business, education, nursing, or medical schools. Instead, those schools can seek additional accreditation by a specialized body. Such accreditation is not required as long as the school is regionally accredited, but extra credentials do help to attract the top students and verify the integrity of specialized programs.

Early Childhood through High School: Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement

The Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement is responsible for verifying the integrity and academic rigor of educational programs that precede college or university education. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accredits early childhood education centers, though this is voluntary. Primarily, the Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement is concerned with elementary, middle, and high schools located in its 19-state area of authority.

Like the Higher Learning Commission, this body is concerned with everything from academic rigor and integrity to things like academic fairness and grade inflation. Because public and private schools in this category must be aligned with most federal education standards and metrics, its job also involves the enforcement of Department of Education directives, laws, and regulations.

Because it deals with Department of Education requirements and standards, the Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement also examines schools’ college preparatory coursework and vocational offerings. These programs will be continued reviewed and reformed in order to properly prepare students for either collegiate success or career performance.

The CASI works with non-degree programs offered by local community colleges or vocational schools as well, and offers these schools nominal accreditation if it meets NCACS standards. In many cases, accreditation of non-degree programs is voluntary. Even so, most institutions benefit from offering the CASI seal of approval.

Essential to Promoting Education in the Central Part of the Country

The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools is a comprehensive accreditation body that works on everything from pre-kindergarten programs to doctoral programs within its 19-state area of service. Students from Wisconsin to New Mexico, Wyoming to Arkansas, are all subject to periodic reviews of their teaching styles, curriculum, requirements, and academic standards. At the discretion of organization officials, those programs are routinely accredited, re-approved, or stripped of their accreditation based on performance and alignment with national requirements. This places the body at the center of long-term educational trends and enforcement.