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Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

MSA logo

MSA operational area
Abbreviation MSA
Formation 1887
Legal status Association
Purpose/focus Educational Accreditation
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Region served Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands
Board President Jayne S. Carmody
Main organ Board of Trustees
Affiliations CHEA
Website [www.middlestates.org www.middlestates.org]

The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools is a voluntary, peer-based, non-profit association dedicated to educational excellence and improvement through peer evaluation and accreditation. It is one of six regional accrediting organizations for higher education institutions recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United States Department of Education. The Middle States Association is responsible for accrediting educational institutions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. The Middle States Association also works with schools in the Near East, Far East, Africa, and Europe, and thus far with one school in Canada, and another in Chile .

The Middle States Association should not be confused with the "Middle States Accrediting Board" (abbreviated MSAB) [1], an unrecognized accreditation agency that some diploma mills cite to legitimize their operations.

The Middle States Association is made up of three accrediting Commissions; the Commission on Elementary Schools, the Commission on Secondary Schools, and the Commission on Higher Education. Additionally, the Committee on Institution-Wide Accreditation serves as a bridging committee for educational institutions with grade levels covered by both the Commission on Elementary Schools and the Commission on Secondary Schools.

Contents

Commission on Elementary Schools

The Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools (MSCES) works with public and private schools that middle, elementary, and early age education in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. MSCES also works with schools in the Middle East, Near East, Far East, Africa, and Europe.

MSCES (and its predecessor, the Assembly of Elementary Schools) has provided accreditation protocols to schools since 1978. These protocols rely on the concepts of peer evaluation and self-regulation to provide continuous school improvement.

MSCES operates from offices in Bala Cynwyd, PA, near the Philadelphia offices of MSA. [1]

Commission on Secondary Schools

The Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools (MSCSS) serves both public and non-public schools providing middle and/or secondary education, including vocational-technical schools that offer non-degree-granting post-secondary programs[2], in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. In addition, it accredits schools in the Caribbean as well as various locations around the world.

The Commission on Secondary Schools (CSS) was established in November 1920 to promote the improvement of secondary education and to secure better coordination and understanding between secondary schools and institutions of higher education. It serves public and non-public middle, intermediate, and/or secondary schools, non-degree granting vocational technical and postsecondary institutions, special purpose schools, supplementary education centers, and distance education institutions. These institutions may be ungraded or have designated grade levels, including a post-graduate level.

A permanent staff housed primarily in the Middle States offices in Philadelphia, PA, coordinates the work of the Commission and its volunteers.[3]

In February 2007 the CSS approved a new set of accreditation protocols to be used for accreditation decisions beginning in October 2008.[4]

Commission on Higher Education

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is the unit of the Middle States Association that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region. It examines the institution as a whole, rather than specific programs within the institution.

According to the MSCHE, the accreditation process includes "assessment, peer evaluation, consultation, information gathering and sharing, cooperation, and appropriate educational activities." [5]

Every three months the Commission publishes a list of actions on higher education.[6] Included are decisions to warn, revoke or affirm accreditation.

Although its focus is the Middle States region, in 2005 the Commission on Higher Education accredited the Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada.[7]

History of the Middle States Association

The genesis of the Association can be traced to a meeting of activist college presidents in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in February 1887. The meeting was held to protest a proposed tax on college properties and concluded with the consensus that education from early age through the university was in chaos. The presidents chartered themselves as the College Association of Pennsylvania, soon thereafter renamed the Association of the Colleges and Secondary Schools of the Middle States and Maryland.

During the early years, many of the education luminaries of the day contributed to the formation of the Association. A few of the early leaders included President E.H. Magill of Swarthmore College, President Nicholas M. Butler of Columbia University, President Charles Adams of Cornell, Headmaster Thomas Sidwell of the Sidwell Friends School, Headmaster James McKenzie of Lawrenceville School, Provost William Pepper of the University of Pennsylvania, and President Woodrow Wilson of Princeton University.

The initial objectives of the Association were to standardize the qualifications required for admission to college, to determine the desired characteristics for college preparatory schools, to recommend courses of study for both colleges and schools, to foster school and college relationships to each other and to the government, and to study and recommend best practices of organization and governance.

During the early years, the Association’s discussions on the standardization of academic credentials led to the creation of the College Board and the Carnegie Unit as ways to assure quality of academic offerings and the trustworthiness of the participating institutions. Educational accreditation, the current mission of the Association, was introduced in 1919 and 1921 with the formation of the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and Commission on Secondary Schools (CSS). The Commissions established the concept of peer evaluation in the Region and contributed to the evolving collegiality between the two levels of education.

In the years that followed, accreditation in the Middle States region and around the country defined the characteristics of quality in American secondary and higher education. The Middle States Association concentrated its efforts on accreditation activities. The original objectives of the Association that concentrated on the critique of American education shifted to national organizations of educational specialists. The Commission on Higher Education was located at Columbia University and the Commission on Secondary Schools at the University of Pennsylvania. The two Commissions created standards and protocols to accredit their institutions.

Initially, only four-year colleges and universities and traditional high schools were offered accreditation. Visits were short, conducted often by only one person and were often very prescriptive in nature. Information sought from the institutions was quantitative, and denial of accreditation was often based on a single issue. During these early decades, institutions accredited by CHE had little or no contact with the Commission. It was not until the mid-fifties that the ten-year cycle of accreditation was introduced, and the process became more qualitative. Institutions were expected to submit comprehensive self-studies, and the process became mission centered.

At this time, institutions were required to submit periodic review reports and host special Commission visitors. CHE offered a number of qualitative approaches for self-study, and CSS was an important partner in the creation of the Evaluative Criteria, published by NSSE. This document defined the American public high school. The two Commissions expanded the scope of their work to include community colleges, teacher education institutions, vocational technical schools, and special education schools.

In 1957, the Association obtained a Charter of its own from the Board of Regents of the State of New York. In 1975, the Association changed its name once more to accommodate the emerging interest in the accreditation of elementary schools: The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1976, the two Commissions relocated together to the University City Science Center in Philadelphia. In 1978, the Trustees of the Association unanimously voted to form a third accreditation unit, the Assembly of Elementary Schools, ten years later to become the Commission on Elementary Schools. (CES). The two school Commissions formed the bridge Committee on Institution Wide Accreditation (CIWA) to recommend accreditation action on institutions that serve schools that span the PK-12 continuum.

In 1992, the Trustees granted wide range autonomy to each of the three Commissions in areas of finance, policy, and personnel. At the same time, the Association was reincorporated in the State of Delaware and finally in 2002 in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 1994, the Commission on Elementary Schools moved its operation from the condominium office to the Philadelphia suburb of Bala Cynwyd to provide space to accommodate growth in the two remaining Commissions. During the 1990s and into the new Century, all three Commissions experienced growth in the region and around the world in both traditional and nontraditional delivery systems, including early age, distance education, and a wide variety of emerging educational entities. [8]

See also

References

External links

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