Accreditation: What is it?

Accreditation: What is it?

Chances are, you’ve never considered whether or not your school is accredited.  But what isaccreditation and how does a school get accredited?

If you Google the word accreditation, it is defined as “the action or process of officially recognizing someone as having a particular status or being qualified to perform a particular activity; an acknowledgement of a person’s responsibility for or achievement of something.”  In a nutshell, accredited schools have been externally reviewed by a team of education professionals against a strict set of criteria aimed to improve accountability and quality.  These standards include a variety of categories and evolve to ensure they are current with best-practice methods and research.  The accreditation process is not a ‘one and done’ event, either.  These reviews happen every few years to ensure schools are adhering to the standards and also continuously improving.  In exchange, schools can retain the status of being accredited.

As a brief side note, there are four main accrediting agencies in the United States:

  • AdvancED
    • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools – 19 States
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – 11 States
    • Northwest Accreditation Commission – 7 States (our accreditation)
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools – 5 States
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges – 6 States
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges – 2 States

Do you have any questions about accreditation?  Any comments?

Blended Learning

In its simplest definition, blended learning is when a student takes an online course with face-to-face support from a tutor, teacher, parent, or friend. According to iNACOL (International Association for K-12 Online Learning), one of the most important parts of blended learning is the “ ’element of student control’ emphasizing the shifting instructional models to enable increased student-centered learning, giving students increased control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning pathways.” In other words, the student is in the driver’s seat.  If this is a scary thought, keep reading to understand how the blended learning model supports student-centered learning.

When students move to an online environment for all or some of their high school course work, there is a learning curve: time management, goal setting, self-motivation, communication.  It calls for a lot of skills that are often still coming together for most teenagers, which is why having a mentor, tutor, or teacher is so powerful. Having support–both for accountability and instruction–is often the game-changer for students. This blended concept allows them to still maintain responsibility for their courses while having consistent access to someone who can answer their questions, personalize their learning, or review an assignment.

We are obviously proponents of online courses, but also never sought to remove the teacher from the equation.  Instead, we created a database of qualified instructors for our students to use so that they could find someone in their area who could support their music education in a powerful way.

Have you learned in a blended learning environment? Do you have questions about blended learning? Leave us a comment and let us know!

High School: The Landscape is Changing

So much has changed, and continues to change, in the realm of education, and for the sake of this particular post–high school education.  Even considering my own high school experience sixteen years ago (has it been that long), with the options students have today, the landscape is completely different.

Let’s start with the number of choices students have today.  I’m mostly referring to the opportunity to take a very traditional high school experience and customize it.  Students can take online classes.  They can attend a school for the arts, a private prep school, or boarding school.  Students can attend schools that conform to their sports schedule, or even opt to home school.  There are endless possibilities.  So which is the right one?  Or better yet, is there a right one?

The biggest reason to leave your public high school is either to better align yourself with a school that supports your passion (sports, performing, etc.) or your academic or religious alignment (private school, prep school, home school).  When this is not an option, whether because of proximity, budget, or other factors, there are always other avenues.  You might consider an extracurricular club or group, whether through your school or community.  Or, you can look to online opportunities to find the classes you’re seeking or simply to reduce the classes you’re taking at school.  Whenever I meet with students, I ask them a few questions to help determine the best course of action.  You can download that questionnaire for free if you’re interested.

How do you access your education?  What led you to that decision?  We’d love to hear from you in our comments.

Elective Versus Fine Art

Elective credits are the category of credits that typically fall outside core and other required classes. In other words, students can choose what they want to take, and, depending on their school, may even be able to focus on a particular subject or topic throughout several semesters. Other times, electives are simply an opportunity for students to take several non-related classes as they work to refine their interests.

Fine Arts classes are typically broken into two different categories: visual arts and performing arts. Occasionally there’s a category of media arts, focusing on classes like film, production, or broadcasting. Fine Arts is your chance to study music/choir, drawing, painting, ceramics, jewelry, or even drama. And just because your school has a minimum requirement in this category, doesn’t mean you can’t take more classes. It just means that anything above the Fine Arts requirement will push to the elective category.

Chances are, you are required to take both elective and fine art classes, but the exact number of credits varies from school to school. Our advice: take advantage of both categories. Use these classes as an opportunity to take chances on a class you’re interested in, to learn from a teacher you may otherwise not have the option of studying with, or to simply expand your knowledge.

And in case you’re wondering, our catalog of music classes typically satisfies both categories.