The New England Association of Schools and Colleges is a private, non-profit, non-governmental membership organization which serves the six New England states. The purpose is excusively educational. It serves the public and the educational community by (1) establishing and maintaining high standards of educational excellence and (2) utilizing evaluation processes which focus on self-improvement through effective peer review. Schools which voluntarily demonstrate through the Association's evaluation processes that they meet established standards are accredited and thus become members in the Association.
For the Commission on Public Secondary Schools member schools must undertake an rigorous self-study involving the participation of faculty, administrators, staff, students, community members and board members. A committee of peers, comprised of professional educators who have volunteered to serve on the the visiting committee, visits an institution to evaluate its adherence to stated standards, a process that includes reviewing the findings of the self-study and identifying areas of strength, and making recommendations that will lead to better adherence to standards and to school improvmeent. School personnel then respond to recommendations stated in the visiting committee report by designing and implementing short-term and long-range plans for improvement.
Accreditation is not a permanent status. Membership in the Association depends on schools demonstrating continued improvement and adherence to standards through a regular cycle of routine and special progress reports. In addition, membership in the Association requires that all member institutions pay annual dues and provide quality educators to serve on visiting committees for other member institutions. This latter requirement is essential to the operation of the Association which depends on volunteers to staff teams.
The Commission is empowered to take action related to a school's continued accreditation. A Board of Trustees comprised of representatives from the commissions in the Association as well as public members takes action regarding granting candidacy and initial accreditation.
The Commission accredits a wide variety of institutions with different missions. Each institution is evaluated according to the Standards in light of its unique mission.
In applying the Standards, the Commission assesses the effectiveness of the institution as a whole. The Commission recognizes that some aspects of an institution are always stronger than others. Meeting the Standards does not guarantee the quality of individual programs, courses, or graduates, but serious weaknesses in a particular area may threaten the institution’s accreditation.