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Accreditation of Schools

​​​​All archdiocesan schools, all parish schools​, and most private schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles​ are accredited through the co-accreditation process of the Western Catholic Education Association (WCEA) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Private high schools may also be accredited through the California Association of Independent Schools; this accreditation is recognized by WCEA and WASC.

1 Western Catholic Educational Association

The Western Catholic Educational Association (​WCEA) is a private educational agency established under the auspices of the bishops of the Catholic dioceses of California for the purpose of school improvement and accreditation. Through an executive director, WCEA is administered centrally for all member dioceses. It accredits Catholic schools in California as well as in other states and U.S. territories. WCEA has established standards for evaluating the Catholic identity in schools.

2 Western Association of Schools and Colleges

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (​WASC), a regional non-governmental group that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes as an accrediting agency for schools, provides institutional accreditation of private elementary schools, public and private high schools, and post-secondary schools.

3 Accreditation Process

WCEA and WASC​ formally cooperate in accrediting Catholic schools. WCEA commissioners of the archdiocese facilitate the program of accreditation for the archdiocese and participate as members of the over​all WCEA commission. WCEA participates in the review and recommendation process. The fundamental goal of WCEA is school improvement. The processes for school improvement, as carried out through the combined efforts of WCEA, WASC, and the local diocese and school community, result in a term of joint accreditation granted by WCEA and WASC. Terms of accreditation are granted upon evidence of acceptable quality and the progress each school makes toward achieving its full potential for the particular student body it serves.

The accreditation process ensures that schools:

  • Foster excellence in elementary school and high school education

  • Encourage school improvement through a process of continuous self-study and evaluation

  • Assure a school and its publics that the school has clearly defined and appropriate educational goals and has established conditions that promote achievement of those goals currently and in the future

  • ​Identify a school as having unique and appropriate purposes and goals and possessing the means to accomplish them

  • Assure that a school meets formally approved criteria for the operation of a quality school

  • Provide a form of recognition by an external agency that assures that a school is committed to quality and ongoing school improvement based on self-assessment and planning

4 Role of the Department of Catholic Schools

The Department of Catholic Schools participates in formulating and administering the accreditation process through its representation on the Western Catholic Educational Association (WCEA) Elementary and Secondary Commissions. The Department of Catholic Schools, through the designated elementary and secondary commissioners for the archdiocese, also assists all Catholic schools in the accreditation process by:

  • Reviewing the philosophy and learning expectations of each school in connection with the preparation required in the accreditation process

  • Providing services prior to the visit from WCEA and WASC​, such as curriculum reviews and studies of administrative structures and school budgets

  • Ensuring that schools make progress on the WCEA and WASC Visiting Committee reports of critical areas for follow-up by requiring the schools to submit regular statements to the Department of Catholic Schools

5 Role of the Schools

School leadership and staff are committed to a continuous accreditation process to improve the school and effect change. Every school must engage in an ongoing process for accreditation that requires collaborative planning. The accreditation process encompasses reviewing, prioritizing, and implementing the recommendations from WCEA into the school's action plan. The accreditation process should involve the entire school community. The result of the process is the creation of an original Self-Study document based on a template provided by WCEA.

6 Role of the Visiting Committee for Schools

After the Self-Study document has been completed, a Visiting Committee of professional educators formed by the Department of Catholic Schools visits the school to validate the document. The Visiting Committee writes a report that reflects key areas of strength and critical areas for follow-up and submits a confidential Justification Statement for a recommended term of accreditation. These materials are submitted to the WCEA commission for review and deliberation. The commission then grants status of accreditation and identifies any basis for interim review and assessment.​


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