What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is the public recognition bestowed on a school that meets established qualifications and educational standards through initial and subsequent periodical evaluations by peer reviewers.
Purpose of WGNA Accreditation
The purpose of WGNA is to improve the quality of web-learning educational programs within regionally accredited elementary and secondary schools.
As web-based learning models have rapidly emerged, the education field has been required to reconsider many norms and establish new frameworks to ensure that students who are learning online are receiving a quality education.
In 2009, a major effort was undertaken by iNACOL, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, to establish a new set of standards to address all the critical areas of practice for schools that provide instruction via web-learning. The outcome of this process was the publication of iNACOL’s Standards for Quality Online Programs.
WGNA’s intention is to apply a rigorous review of a school’s distance education programs using the iNACOL standards and others as a benchmark to ensure that the education being provided is at least as effective as that of brick-and-mortar schools.
WGNA Accreditation Process
Schools that choose to undergo WGNA accreditation begin a self-evaluation to measure the effectiveness of their web-learning programs using the iNACOL standards as a benchmark. As a result of the self-study process, schools are able to clearly identify their strengths and areas for growth as an institution. Following completion of the self-study, each school works with their stakeholders to prepare a plan of action on how the areas for growth will be addressed. This process helps schools to embark on a journey of continuous improvement in the realm of web-learning and demonstrates a strong commitment to supporting student achievement.
Regional Accreditation Requirement
Each school that applies for WGNA accreditation is required to achieve and maintain accreditation through one of the six regional accreditation agencies. The following agencies are recognized for fulfillment of this obligation:
- MSA – Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- NEASC – New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- NCA – North Central Association (AdvancED)
- NWAC – Northwest Accreditation Commission (AdvancED)
- SACS – Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (AdvancED)
- WASC – Western Association of Schools and Colleges
International institutions seeking WGNA accreditation must also obtain accreditation through one of the regional agencies, many of which accredit schools internationally. WGNA does not approve or recommend any specific regional accreditation agency for this purpose.