North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

Overview
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. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s, that is engaged in educational accreditation
Educational accreditation
Educational accreditation is a type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met...

. It is one of six regional accreditation
Regional accreditation
Regional accreditation is a term used in the United States to refer to educational accreditation conducted by any of several accreditation bodies established to serve six defined geographic areas of the country for accreditation of schools, colleges, and universities...

 bodies in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and its Higher Learning Commission is recognized by the United States Department of Education
United States Department of Education
The United States Department of Education, also referred to as ED or the ED for Education Department, is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government...

 and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation
Council for Higher Education Accreditation
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is a United States organization of degree-granting colleges and universities. It identifies its purpose as providing national advocacy for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation in order to certify the quality of higher education...

 (CHEA) as a regional accreditor for higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 institutions.

The NCA accredits over 10,000 public and private
Private school
Private schools, also known as independent schools or nonstate schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students' tuition, rather than relying on mandatory...

 educational institutions in its service area, including more than 1,000 higher education institutions.
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Encyclopedia
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. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s, that is engaged in educational accreditation
Educational accreditation
Educational accreditation is a type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met...

. It is one of six regional accreditation
Regional accreditation
Regional accreditation is a term used in the United States to refer to educational accreditation conducted by any of several accreditation bodies established to serve six defined geographic areas of the country for accreditation of schools, colleges, and universities...

 bodies in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and its Higher Learning Commission is recognized by the United States Department of Education
United States Department of Education
The United States Department of Education, also referred to as ED or the ED for Education Department, is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government...

 and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation
Council for Higher Education Accreditation
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is a United States organization of degree-granting colleges and universities. It identifies its purpose as providing national advocacy for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation in order to certify the quality of higher education...

 (CHEA) as a regional accreditor for higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 institutions.

The NCA accredits over 10,000 public and private
Private school
Private schools, also known as independent schools or nonstate schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students' tuition, rather than relying on mandatory...

 educational institutions in its service area, including more than 1,000 higher education institutions. The service area includes the states of Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, and Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, as well as the Navajo Nation
Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory covering , occupying all of northeastern Arizona, the southeastern portion of Utah, and northwestern New Mexico...

.

The accreditation work of the North Central Association is undertaken by two independent corporations that are components of the association. The Higher Learning Commission
The Higher Learning Commission
The Higher Learning Commission is part of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The Higher Learning Commission oversees the accreditation of degree-granting colleges and universities in nineteen Midwestern and South-Central states, including Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa,...

 (HLC) oversees higher education accreditation
Higher education accreditation
Higher education accreditation is a type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of post-secondary educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met...

, providing institution-level accreditation of degree-granting colleges and universities. 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
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is one of the six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation...

 (SACS) Council on Accreditation and School Improvement to form AdvancED
AdvancED
AdvancED is a private organization that accredits primary and secondary schools throughout the United States. The organization is based in Georgia. AdvanceED was formed in 2006 by the consolidation of the pre-college divisions of two of the U.S...

; NCA CASI and SACS CASI now operate as divisions of AdvancED and as components of their respective regional associations.

The North Central Association was organized in 1895 at a meeting of 36 administrators of schools, colleges, and universities located in seven midwestern
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

 states. The association's original objective was "the establishment of close relations between the colleges and secondary schools." Better articulation
Articulation (education)
In Australia and United States education, articulation or more specifically course articulation, refers to the process of comparing the content of courses that are transferred between postsecondary institutions such as TAFE institutes, colleges or universities...

 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 school
Secondary school
Secondary school is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place...

s. Accreditation of colleges and universities followed later. The North Central carried out the functions of post-secondary accreditation and accreditation of pre-college education
Pre-tertiary education accreditation
Pre-tertiary-education accreditation is a type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of pre-tertiary schools and educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met....

 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.

The association is organized as nonprofit corporation, chartered in Illinois and governed by a board of directors. The Higher Learning Commission is based in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, while the CASI/AdvancED maintains offices in each of the states it serves.

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."

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 USDE 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."

See also


External links