By definition, the word “accredit” means to authorize, endorse and officially approve of. What ordination is to a minister, accreditation is to a school. Accreditation is a group process by which . Accreditation is a voluntary process of self regulation and peer review adopted by the educational community, by which schools voluntarily agree to participate in a set of established standards in order to encourage quality education.
Institutions of higher education have voluntarily entered into associations to evaluate each other in accordance with an institutions stated goals. Accredited status simply means a school has undergone a comprehensive examination to determine that it operates at a high level of performance.
There is secular education and there is religious education. Secular schools seek secular education, and sacred schools receive sacred accreditation—each by their own peers. Religious institutions need no secular accreditation unless they offer secular degrees and are required to have such government oversight in order to grant their degrees. Secular accreditation associations in turn are recognized by governmental agencies. They trace their authority back to a government agency, i.e. the United States Department of Education (in the USA).
Under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing specific is said about education in the Constitution; therefore it falls outside federal authority. The people, through their elected representatives in Congress created the United States Department of Education
According to the United States Department of Education Website (click here):
In creating the Department of Education, Congress specified that:
No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, except to the extent authorized by law. (Section 103[b], Public Law 96-88)
Thus, the Department does not
- establish schools and colleges;
- develop curricula;
- set requirements for enrollment and graduation;
- determine state education standards; or
- develop or implement testing to measure whether states are meeting their education standards.
These are responsibilities handled by the various states and districts as well as by public and private organizations of all kinds, not by the U.S. Department of Education.
In the United States, the government does not accredit schools. However, the USDOE is in the business of approving the associations which do accredit schools (for the purpose of serving as gatekeepers for Title IV Funding). Title IV Funding is the nearly 80 billion dollars congressionally approved annual money stream that flows from taxpayers to educational institutions that are accredited by an agency approved by USDOE.
The reason that USDOE approves accrediting agencies is to assure control over the flow of Title IV Funds. The greater part of accreditation requirements is geared toward satisfying the USDOE mandated standards that are specifically designed to regulate the huge taxpayer investment in higher education.
Individuals seeking employment in government-licensed positions such as public school teachers, state-licensed psychologists or psychiatrists, and non-church-related counselors will more than likely need USDOE recognized accredited degrees. Generally speaking, people working in ministry positions do not need a USDOE accredited degree. If you are pursuing education at ETS with the intent of obtaining employment or for some other reason, you should check with that organization BEFORE applying for enrollment in ETS. ETS assumes no liability of any kind.