Date of Award


Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Jane McKee

Second Advisor

LeVene Olson

Third Advisor

Linda Spatig

Fourth Advisor

Donald Washburn


Research gaps exist in knowledge about postsecondary certificate-granting institutions, as well as results of accreditation processes. This qualitative study focuses on national accreditation results that can: 1) define strengths and improvement areas in these institutions; 2) determine why action is taken or not taken on accreditation recommendations; and 3) identify results, strengths, and challenges of accreditation. This research base can guide improvements in these institutions and the North Central Association – Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) process. The population was 125 accredited schools in ten states, representing 96% of all NCA CASI accredited public, postsecondary institutions. Methods included: document analysis, interviews, and peer review validation. All commendations and recommendations in the 125 school NCA CASI accreditation reports were coded. Interview participants were selected using a maximum variance sampling with completion and licensure/certification passage averages as the variance component. Interviews were conducted with selected 15 NCA CASI school coordinators, one State Department Coordinator and one AdvancED/NCA CASI representative. Seven school personnel from five states participated in a peer-review validation process. Results indicate: 1) the accreditation report documentation shows the highest percentage of schools receive commendations related to: business, industry and community involvement; pupil personnel services; positive school culture and relationships; safety and space considerations, and data collection processes. Highest percentage of schools recommendations focused on: data analysis and decisions; lack of space; student support service strategies; business, industry, and community support strategies; and increased documentation. 2) Interviews identified themes of action taken on accreditation report recommendations: documentation, compliance, performance measures, and process improvements. Actions not taken related to: resource costs or philosophical differences. 3) Accreditation process strengths are: financial aid access; credibility; continuous improvement framework; critical analysis of self study using internal teams; and gaining external peer-review team perspectives. Accreditation challenges or areas in need of improvement are: accountability duplication; resource constraints; subjectivity/ philosophical differences; and suggestions for process improvements. These NCA CASI accredited institutions show an average of 84.5% completion, 87.9% placement, and 89.7% licensure/certification performance rates.


Universities and colleges -- Accreditation -- United States.