Founded in 1885, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges is the Nation’s oldest regional accrediting association. It serves over 1800 public, private, and private non-profit schools, colleges and universities in the six New England states and in international locations. The Association comprises four Commissions: the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE); the Commission on Public Schools (CPS); the Commission on Independent Schools (CIS); and the Commission on International Education, PS-12 (CIE).
The Association’s purposes are exclusively educational. It serves the public interest and the educational community by
(1) establishing and maintaining high standards of educational excellence, and
(2) utilizing assessment processes which focus on institutional evaluation and self-improvement through effective institutional self-study and peer review.
Schools and colleges which voluntarily demonstrate through the Association’s assessment processes that they meet established standards are accredited and thus become members of the Association.
Member schools and colleges must undertake a comprehensive self-study involving the participation of faculty, administrators, staff, students, board members, and representatives of the public. A committee of peer evaluators, comprising professional educators who have volunteered to serve on a visiting committee, visits an institution to assess its adherence to an individual Commission’s stated standards, to review the findings of the school’s self-study, and to make recommendations that will lead to more substantive compliance with the standards.
Each Commission bases its recommendations or decisions on reports generated by its specially appointed committees, which have visited and appraised schools and colleges on the basis of established Commission Standards of Membership.
The standards are qualitative, sector specific and of such a nature that they are utilized to evaluate any of the various types of educational institutions served by the Commission. Accreditation means that a school or college is fulfilling its publicly stated mission, meeting its objectives, demonstrating the effectiveness of its teaching and learning, and conforming to a set of common standards as established by the Commission and approved by the NEASC Board of Trustees. These standards are determined by a process which collegially assures their acceptability by the member institutions. The mission of a given institution must relate to its organizational structure, program, faculty, students and facilities. The institution must demonstrate that the teaching and learning that occur as part of the institution’s educational program are effective. Resources must be adequate to carry out its mission. No attempt is made by the Association to delineate relative excellence among institutions.
The grant of accreditation is not a permanent status; it may be withdrawn. Accreditation is a grant made initially by the Association’s Board of Trustees and reaffirmed periodically by the appropriate Commission through its own standards, policies and procedures. Membership in the Association is dependent upon a member institution’s ability to remain in substantial compliance with a Commission’s standards by demonstrating continued substantial compliance with its standards and its capacity for self-improvement. Member institutions are reappraised on a cycle managed by the Commission. School or college personnel are expected to design a process to implement the recommendations made by the visiting committee in the evaluation report and highlighted by the Commission’s subsequent reviews utilizing the formats for special progress reports and/or focused visits. If appropriate action is not taken to assure substantial compliance with the Commission’s standards in a reasonable period of time, a member institution will be placed on warning or probation for a reasonable but limited period of time. Unless corrective measures are taken during this second interval, the institution will be dropped from membership.
Probation and loss of accreditation are public adverse actions. Opportunity is provided for appeal of any adverse action against the institution.
The Association is managed by a Board of Trustees, which oversees the affairs of the Association. The various Commissions are empowered to manage their own accreditation processes and procedures and apply their standards as they see fit, once the Association Board of Trustees has approved those standards. Additionally, the Board of Trustees is empowered, upon the recommendation of a Commission, to grant candidacy or initial accreditation and to serve as a mechanism through which institutions may appeal an adverse action regarding their affiliation.