Accreditation implies quality in education, training, and professional service. It is both a process and a status by which institutions or programs are publicly recognized as having met certain criteria or standards of performance. The Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, whose function is to promulgate principles of practice in accreditation and facilitate high-quality of service among postsecondary education accrediting agencies, refers in its definition of accreditation to a recognition of institutions and programs for the level of performance, integrity, and quality that entitles them to the confidence invested in them by the educational community and the public they serve (Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, 1985). Thus public accountability is at the heart of accreditation. Although it is a voluntary, nongovernmental process as practiced in the United States, accreditation has assumed a quasi-public nature in the evaluation of education and training as well as professional service functions. It is a process founded on institutional or program self-study, peer evaluation, and adherence to valid published standards.
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