Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (March 2014)|
MSA operational area
|Region served||Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands|
|Board President||John Cavanaugh|
|Main organ||Board of Trustees|
The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) is a voluntary, peer-based, non-profit association dedicated to educational excellence and improvement through peer evaluation and accreditation of public and private universities, colleges, secondary and elementary schools in the United States and foreign institutions of American origin. It is one of the six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The Middle States Association should not be confused with the Middle States Accrediting Board (MSAB), an unrecognized accreditation agency that some diploma mills cite to legitimize their operations.
Commission on Higher Education
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (dba the Mid-Atlantic Region Commission on Higher Education—MARCHE) is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education to accredit degree-granting institutions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands that wish to participate in federal Title IV student loan programs.
Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools
The Middle States Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS) accredits public and private schools and school systems throughout the United States and it states it is active in more than 85 countries around the world.
The Commissions also accredit other types of educational organizations:
Supplementary Education Organizations. A supplementary education organization is defined by the following characteristics--
- Is not a school or school system;
- Does not grant a high school diploma or a degree;
- Offers educational programs that meet narrowly focused curricular purposesd;
- Offers programs that are educational(as opposed to recreational or avocational);
- Enrolls students generally on a part-time basis;
- Generally delivers its educational programs outside of the normal school day and often outside a school; and
- Often offers diagnostic, remedial, enrichment, or alternative instruction.
Learning Service Providers. A learning services provider is an organization that develops and provides various types of educational learning programs and services such as curricula, instructional materials, and management systems to education institutions with or without a fee.
Educational Service Agencies. An educational service agency is a regional provider of educational programs and services to schools and/or school systems schools/school systems cannot provide as efficiently and effectively on their own.
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 MSA-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. MSA-CHE offered a number of qualitative approaches for self-study, and MSA-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, special education schools, as well as other types of educational organizations.
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 (MSA-CES).
- List of recognized accreditation associations of higher learning
- Educational accreditation
- United States Department of Education
- "Welcome to California Postsecondary Education Data". Postsecondary Education Data. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- "College Accreditation in the United States - Pg. 6". U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Newsletter June 2010". Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- MSA-CESS website, retrieved June 3, 2014.
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- Middle States Association Commission on Elementary Schools
- Middle States Association Commission on Secondary Schools
- Middle States Association Committee on Institution-Wide Accreditation
- Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education