What is the Northwest Accreditation Commission?

Healthy organisms adapt to change or face the possibility of extinction. British sociologist Herbert Spencer and not Charles Darwin originated the concept of “survival of the fittest”, and it can aptly apply to organizations. Starting in 1917 as a voluntary group with 33 members, the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools changed its name to Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges in 1974. 

After undergoing three more name changes by 2010, the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC) gained a membership of more than 1900 schools, colleges and universities. Now associated with AdvancED as an accreditation division, NWAC shows the importance of adapting to change. The new alliance allows NWAC to reach almost 30,000 schools in more than 70 countries

Supporting Educational Goals

The mission of NWAC is to advance goals by improving educational quality worldwide, working with other accreditation commissions to support schools that are dedicated to meeting the changing needs of students. Adopting the quality standards of AdvancED, NWAC implements them in these critical areas:

• Purpose and Direction
• Governance and Leadership
• Teaching and Assessing for Learning
• Resources and Support Systems
• Using Results for Continuous Improvement

The standards require schools that carry the NWAC accreditation to measure effectiveness with accepted performance guidelines. Focusing on teaching methods and learning styles, they help prepare students to meet the challenges of a changing environment by endorsing the highest traits of professional educators. Quality educational programs provide the best outcomes for students.

Achieving Accreditation

Institutions that earn accreditation with NWAC within the AdvancED system are examined through measures that include internal and external assessment. Some evaluations are achieved by noting an institution’s ability to raise student achievement levels and by examining the way in which stakeholders respond to perception surveys. Earning accreditation is a valued achievement by educational institutions that ensures students of a superior level of instruction.

To ensure the development of quality programs and consistent performance, NWAC conducts thorough evaluations through an external review at least one time in a five year period that is an accreditation term. Evaluation is based on these measures among others:

• observations in classroom settings
• reviews of documentation
• interviews with stakeholders

Results of the external review contribute to determining an institution’s accreditation status. The process provides an unbiased and fair review of educational institutions that is supported by the educational community.

Bonding with Educational Partnerships

Seven agencies that serve private schools and have a partnership association with NWAC/AdvancED include these:

• Assembly of God (ACTS)
• National Independent Private Schools Association (NIPSA)
• Seventh Day Adventists (SDA)
• Western Catholic Educational Association (WCEA)
• Christian Schools International (CSI)
• Northwest Association of Independent School (NWAIS)
• National Lutheran Schools (NLSA)

The AdvancED network that includes NWAC is the largest educational community in the world, and schools that achieve accreditation provide superior programs to more than 16 million students. Institutions that show a constantly evolving program that meets the needs of students are proud to carry the accreditation status of NWAC/AdvancED. Accreditation is a process as well as a mark of distinction that is worthy of the effort required to achieve it.