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North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools

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Title: North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools  
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North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
File:NCACS logo.png
NCA logo
NCA operating area
Abbreviation NCA
Formation 1895
Legal status Association
Purpose/focus Educational accreditation
Headquarters Tempe, Arizona
Chicago, Illinois
Region served Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Main organ Board of Directors
Affiliations CHEA

The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), also known as the North Central Association, is a membership organization, consisting of colleges, universities, and schools in 19 U.S. states, that is engaged in educational accreditation. It is one of six regional accreditation bodies in the United States, and its Higher Learning Commission is recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as a regional accreditor for higher education institutions.[1]

The NCA accredits over 10,000 public and private educational institutions in its service area, including more than 1,000 higher education institutions.[2] The service area includes the states of Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, as well as the Navajo Nation.[3][4]

The accreditation work of the North Central Association is undertaken by two independent corporations that are components of the association.[5][6] The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) oversees higher education accreditation, providing institution-level accreditation of degree-granting colleges and universities.[5] The Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) accredits a wide variety of educational institutions, ranging from early childhood, through elementary, middle, and secondary schools to adult-vocational, college preparatory, and non-degree granting post-secondary institutions. In July 2006, NCA CASI combined with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Council on Accreditation and School Improvement to form AdvancED; NCA CASI and SACS CASI now operate as divisions of AdvancED and as components of their respective regional associations.[7][8]

The North Central Association was organized in 1895 at a meeting of 36 administrators of schools, colleges, and universities located in seven midwestern states. The association's original objective was "the establishment of close relations between the colleges and secondary schools."[5] Better articulation between the two levels of education was a particular focus. In pursuit of that objective, the association undertook a thorough examination of education quality at both the secondary and college level. That examination process led to the establishment of an accreditation process for secondary schools. Accreditation of colleges and universities followed later.[5] The North Central carried out the functions of post-secondary accreditation and accreditation of pre-college education through a unified organization until 2000, when its Commission on Schools (now NAC CASI) and its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (now the Higher Learning Commission) were formed as independent corporations that began independent operation on January 1, 2001.[9]

The association is organized as nonprofit corporation, chartered in Illinois and governed by a board of directors.[10] The Higher Learning Commission is based in Chicago,[11] while the CASI/AdvancED maintains offices in each of the states it serves.[12]


NCA CASI accredits a range of schools from Pre-kindergarten through postsecondary, including: early childhood, elementary, middle, secondary, adult/vocational, college preparatory, special purpose, unit (k-12), and non-degree granting post-secondary schools. In 2006, AdvancED was established with the unification of NCA CASI, SACS CASI, and NSSE creating the world's largest education community. Today, NCA CASI acts as an accreditation division of AdvancED.

Credit inflation

In a letter dated December 17, 2009, Wanda A. Scott, an Assistant Inspector General of the United States Department of Education reported on an inspection of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools' (HLC) standards for program length and credit hours, and "identified a serious issue" wherein HLC had found problems in American InterContinental University's (AIU) assignment of credit hours where bachelor's courses were inflated relative to common practice, yet HLC granted full accreditation to AIU. Scott wrote, "This action by HLC is not in the best interest of students and calls into question whether the accrediting decisions made by HLC should be relied upon by the Department of Education when assisting students to obtain quality education through the Title IV programs."[13]

In a later letter to the HLC, Scott remarked that, "We recommended that OPE [the Office of Postsecondary Education] determine whether HLC is in compliance with 34 C.F.R Part 602 and, if not, take appropriate action under 34 C.F.R. Part 602 to limit, suspend, or terminate HLC’s recognition by the Secretary." Sylvia Manning, President of the HLC, in a letter dated March 17, 2010, responded to Scott's letter saying that the Inspector General's office failed to take into consideration that HLC's accreditation of AIU was conditional and limited, and was not a full accreditation, as reported by Scott.

Manning made the argument that the definition of credit hours "... was always a fluid measure in higher education and relied on the integrity and judgement of experienced faculty members ..." Manning points out that the ED is calling for the HLC to adopt a standard definition of the credit hour "because the payment system for Title IV is based around the credit hour."[14]

See also


External links

  • Official North Central Association website
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