AdvancEd (formerly known as SACS CASI) is the primary accreditation agency for charter schools in Florida. Charter schools are accredited as public schools.
AdvancED serves as the accrediting agency for more than 30,000 public and private schools and districts across the United States and in more than 70 countries. AdvancED encompasses three US-based accreditation agencies — the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Why Accreditation is Important for Charter Schools
FCPCS strongly encourages all charter schools to seek accreditation from SACS CASI. Accreditation is a sure way for charter schools to improve their standards of operation and their public image. Accreditation is extremely valuable to charter schools for the following reasons:
- Accreditation is one of the requirements for charter schools to receive capital outlay funds
- The large majority of charter schools seeking AdvancEd accreditation consequently achieve measurable improvements in student achievement through the school improvement plan
- Accreditation is an excellent marketing tool to inform the community-at-large that your school has met and/or exceeded quality educational standards
- Accreditation is an important factor for charter high school students. Most colleges and universities require students to graduate from regionally accredited high schools. In addition, students who apply for sports programs, federal state grants and scholarships, and military programs must graduate from an accredited school.
Charter schools accredited by AdvancEd also enjoy the benefits of belonging to an extensive network of accredited institutions, including access to numerous resources designed to support and facilitate school improvement.
How the Accreditation Process Works
The process of accreditation begins with an external and internal review, and culminates in a five-year comprehensive school improvement plan that is approved by AdvancEd. The process is very similar to the Continuous Improvement Model used in Florida, in which the continuous use of data analysis determines classroom instruction.
After application for accreditation:
- The first step involves a visit from an AdvancEd representative to conduct an inventory of every aspect of the school’s operations. This is called the “readiness visit.” The representative meets with the school administration to review the vision, mission and current goals and objectives of the school to determine if they are appropriate.
- Based on the information gathered once the readiness visit is completed, the school develops a comprehensive school improvement plan that covers the school’s vision, profile, plan, and results. This encompasses aspects of the school’s operations, including student achievement, instruction, professional development, financial management, business operations, and parental involvement.
- Once the school’s governing board approves the plan, the AdvancEd review committee returns to the school. During this visit, the committee conducts additional interviews with administrators, teachers, staff, students, parents, business partners, and other stakeholders, and gives a presentation to the school on its findings.
- Soon after this visit, the AdvancEd review committee recommends the school for accreditation for the next five years or requires the school to make improvements to its plan. The school is put on probation until the improvements are made. If a school is put on probation, an additional visit by the accreditation team might be required.
- The criteria for improvement include FCAT student achievement data and/or plans for interventions that will lead to improvement. If the school fails to continue to meet the AdvancEd standards, the school will receive deficiencies and could be placed on a status of Warned or Probation. until those issues are resolved.
Please contact the SACS CASI Florida Council state office directly to learn how your charter school can begin the accreditation process at 1-800-865-9068.