GOALS OF ACCREDITATION
To ensure that education provided by institutions meets acceptable levels of quality. There are various agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as reliable authorities concerning the quality of education or training offered by the institutions. These agencies are private educational associations of regional or national scope, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met.
The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or programs but it publishes the list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies that the Secretary determines to be reliable authorities as to the quality of education or training provided by the institutions .
The U.S. Secretary of Education also recognizes state agencies for the approval of public postsecondary vocational education and State agencies for the approval of nurse education. The United States has no federal Ministry of Education or other centralized authority exercising single national control over postsecondary educational institutions in this country. The states assume varying degrees of control over education, but, in general, institutions of higher education are permitted to operate with considerable independence and autonomy. As a consequence, American educational institutions can vary widely in the character and quality of their programs.
In order to insure a basic level of quality, the practice of accreditation arose in the United States as a means of conducting nongovernmental, peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs. Private educational associations of regional or national scope have adopted criteria reflecting the qualities of a sound educational program and have developed procedures for evaluating institutions or programs to determine whether or not they are operating at basic levels of quality