Our Schools: What Does it Mean to be District Accredited?

By Emely Arango
Girl reading in library

According to The School District of Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach School District has recently renewed full accreditation with an Index of Education Quality (IEQ) score of 350, meeting Cognia’s accreditation standards.

But what does this mean, exactly?

Accreditation is an important facet in our educational system used as a measure of quality assurance for schools across the country, according to Studyinthestates.gov. When a school is accredited, this means they meet predefined standards of merit, such as Cognia’s, which is a global network of educators that serve to assess and improve educational communities. Accreditation also serves as an external stamp of validation that represents the hard work and dedication of our educators, administrators and students.

It can also play a vital role in a student’s academic journey, as many colleges and universities consider a school’s accreditation status when reviewing college applications, according to Forbes. com. While higher scores in accreditation can ensure that students are prepared for college and the success of their future careers, the eligibility of financial aid, scholarships and transferable credits can also be affected by a student’s affiliation with schools of a lower score, according to the Federal Student Aid website.

Cognia.org states that high performing schools are awarded with an IEQ rating of 300 or greater on a 400 point scale, while the average lies between 261 and 297 points, leaving poor performing schools with a score of 261 points or less. By undergoing accreditation, schools are imposed to a transparency of their efforts, or in some cases of lower performing schools, their lack of funding and support, according to an article published by MIT.

How can IEQ scores be raised?

Raising the IEQ score of a school is a big undertaking that requires dedication from all its stakeholders. This involves raising student test scores, attendance and teaching requirements, as well as supplementing the weak points of a school’s education and lack of funding, which can be invested in the inclusion of special education, counseling, lunch aides, and academic interventions, according to Education Next.

Schools that are not accredited at all can succumb to numerous challenges which can impact the overall education of their students similar to how a low accreditation score impacts them. The quality of the programs, as well as its teachers, curriculums and supplies may be lacking in some unaccredited facilities, though this is not always the case, according to the U.S. Department of Education. There are plenty of private schools that are not accredited and can still offer a valuable education, but this means parents need to do a great deal of research to investigate the conditions of said schools. Though it is one consideration college admission departments take, it is not the deal breaker for most students, according to the Private School Review.

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