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  1. #1
    Messdiener is offline Registered User
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    National Association of Private Catholic & Independent Schools

    Greetings DI folks!

    Is anyone familiar with the "National Association of Private Catholic & Independent Schools" (found here)?

    From my initial assessment, it seems that they have requisite ecclesiastic credential to "accredit" Catholic schools, but are they recognized by and authorized to do so by the United States government? Would a high school accredited by NAPCIS be considered an accredited high school?

    My initial searches aren't turning up much yet, so I thank you for any help you can provide!

    Messdiener

  2. #2
    Neuhaus is offline Registered User
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    The Catholic Church has its own accreditation process, in a sense. Let's say I open up St. Neuhaus Academy, a high school. I am going to need to make sure I am legally operating as a high school. So that means I need to obtain whatever state approval is necessary to operate. But let's say I go out and get state approval. Then let's say I receive regional accreditation for my high school program. I'm still not a "Catholic high school." At best, I'm a "high school in the tradition of the Catholic Church."

    In order to become a "Catholic High School" the bishop of the diocese where my high school is domiciled needs to give the school its approval to operate. Otherwise, regardless of how Catholic we may be, the Catholic church won't consider us to be a Catholic institution. This particular agency deals with non-diocesan Catholic schools. Many of them appear to have been formed by lay leadership (i.e., I don't see many schools that are operated by religious orders). But if NAPCIS requires ecclesiastical approval, then all of them are certainly considered "Catholic schools."

    So you're talking about two separate processes which do not really overlap.

    The USDOE/State Governments do not have the authority to tell the Catholic Church what it can, and cannot, consider to be a "Catholic" school. Likewise, the Catholic Church doesn't have the requisite authority to tell the government what can, and cannot, constitute a "school."

    That said, the organization you identified is not recognized by USDOE as an accrediting agency. That doesn't mean that their "accreditation" is invalid or that it isn't respected within its circle. It just means that it doesn't, in and of itself, define the institution as being a school. A high school first must be approved by the state to operate within that state.

    So, would a high school accredited by NAPCIS be considered "accredited?" I assume you mean for purposes of applying to college. Technically, no, but that might not matter terribly much. Despite not being "accredited" high schools still require state approval and graduates of state approved high schools can typically get into college anyway.

    When I was in high school (Catholic) our school was regionally accredited. But our chess team used to regularly compete with an all boy's boarding school. They were not accredited. They had approval to operate by the State. They all ended up at the same local Catholic colleges as the rest of us (University of Scranton , Marywood, Kings, Misericordia).

    There are plenty of accreditations which are not government recognized. PMI is the most obvious example in higher ed. Though they have applied to be recognized as programmatic accreditors, CHEA has consistently deferred the application. Yet, a good number of schools (including at least one Ivy) have programs accredited by PMI.

  3. #3
    Messdiener is offline Registered User
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    Neuhaus,

    Thank you for the very thorough response. This answers my question precisely!

    Messdiener

  4. #4
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    I have a slightly different take on this question, kinda thinking backwards. I went to the website and looked up Massachusetts. I know a lot about Massachusetts Catholic high schools because they have a rep for good athletic programs. There are some very good academic programs too, Boston College High School, Catholic Memorial, etc. How many of these schools are accredited by this organization? One. And it's an elementary school. Dozens of Catholic high schools in Massachusetts and not one has found it to be a good thing to be accredited by this organization. To me that means that the people who are paid to make such decisions have found that NAPCIS accreditation is not worth the trouble.

  5. #5
    Messdiener is offline Registered User
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    Kizmet,

    Did you, by chance, see a common name pop up when looking at the Mass. Catholic schools? Who is accrediting them?

    Messdiener

  6. #6
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    Matignon, Catholic Memorial and BCHS are all RA (New England Association). I didn't check any others.

  7. #7
    Neuhaus is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kizmet View Post
    I have a slightly different take on this question, kinda thinking backwards. I went to the website and looked up Massachusetts. I know a lot about Massachusetts Catholic high schools because they have a rep for good athletic programs. There are some very good academic programs too, Boston College High School, Catholic Memorial, etc. How many of these schools are accredited by this organization? One. And it's an elementary school. Dozens of Catholic high schools in Massachusetts and not one has found it to be a good thing to be accredited by this organization. To me that means that the people who are paid to make such decisions have found that NAPCIS accreditation is not worth the trouble.
    I'm going to respectfully disagree with you for one very simple reason; NAPCIS is focused on "independent" Catholic schools. Schools run by dioceses or religious orders have, in addition to their typical regional accreditation, a built in quality control system and professional "association" by virtue of their affiliation. Diocesan schools typically report to a superintendent (much like a public school district). There are audit committees. There is oversight. There are networking opportunities, both within and without, your diocese.

    An independent Catholic school receives no diocesan support (but has ecclesiastical approval to operate by the bishop). They are typically much smaller than Catholic schools run by a diocese or a religious order. You can't really compare "Holy Name Academy" (founded by some parents) to a school run by the Benedictines or a diocesan school under the control of the local bishop.

    None of the diocesan (or order) Catholic schools from my former haunts are accredited by this organization either. However, ALL of the smaller independent Catholic schools we used to compete with (sometimes in sports, more often in academic competition) are accredited by NAPCIS.

    I think NAPCIS likely fills a niche. In addition to serving as an association to help bring many independent entities together, they are able to provide a reasonable degree of quality control for schools without a diocese or a religious order auditing their financials and their academics. Schools of this size are likely too small to even consider regional accreditation. While NAPCIS can't rightfully be considered a substitute for RA, it is at least some sort of quality assurance.

    That said, would I send my kid to a school accredited by NAPCIS? Probably not. In my personal experience with schools of this sort they were very common among families who felt that regular Catholic schools weren't Catholic "enough." A few also popped up after the local bishop shut down a few failing schools and families started their own schools in protest. Also, I'm not Catholic (even though I attended a Catholic high school). I was baptized Episcopalian (plus a brief foray into Buddhism and once, very briefly, as a pagan by virtue of trying to impress a female of that religious persuasion) and am presently a irreligious libertine. But, if you tend conservative in your Catholic views then these schools are certainly an option.

    That said, these schools are often classified as Tier II schools for purposes of military enlistment (along with GED holders, homeschoolers, people who go to alternate high schools like Penn Foster etc). All branches have a limit to how many Tier II applicants they will accept. When I enlisted in the Navy, they were not issuing waivers for GED holders to enlist but the Army was scooping them up left and right, for example. Likewise, while it is entirely possible to go to college (especially if you go to a CC first and then transfer into a four year university) it may well mean that you won't get into an entire class of schools or into specific programs. Going to an unaccredited high school isn't as bad of an idea as attending an unaccredited university, in my opinion, but there are considerations like this that one would need to keep in mind.

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  9. #8
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    OK well you could be perfectly correct. My only point was that in a state with a lot of Catholic schools, only 1 elementary school is accredited by this organization. If they are a niche accreditor then it's a pretty small niche. Maybe they do a great job, I don't know. Maybe they're near worthless, I don't know.

  10. #9
    Neuhaus is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kizmet View Post
    OK well you could be perfectly correct. My only point was that in a state with a lot of Catholic schools, only 1 elementary school is accredited by this organization. If they are a niche accreditor then it's a pretty small niche. Maybe they do a great job, I don't know. Maybe they're near worthless, I don't know.
    I agree and I don't mean to simply be contrary (just this once), I just wanted to throw it out there. If I start a professional association for independent coffee shops, it wouldn't be surprising that Starbucks isn't a member.

    But in any case, quality and reputation aside, it is not a recognized accreditor by USDOE. So their "accreditation," while perhaps meaningful to the schools themselves, does not imply that the government gave its stamp of approval (even indirectly) to the school which, I believe, was the crux of the original question.

  11. #10
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neuhaus View Post
    I agree and I don't mean to simply be contrary (just this once), I just wanted to throw it out there. If I start a professional association for independent coffee shops, it wouldn't be surprising that Starbucks isn't a member.

    But in any case, quality and reputation aside, it is not a recognized accreditor by USDOE. So their "accreditation," while perhaps meaningful to the schools themselves, does not imply that the government gave its stamp of approval (even indirectly) to the school which, I believe, was the crux of the original question.
    I think we're both making the same point. An unaccredited school may or may not be of good quality. How do you know? An unrecognized accreditor might be a good accreditor or it might not. How do you know. You can do a lot of research and make a guess but I, for one, prefer not to spend the time to do that. To my mind that's the whole purpose on accreditation. Let someone else do it so that I don't have to.

  12. #11
    Koolcypher is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hips1972 View Post
    I can not participate now in discussion - it is very occupied. But I will return - I will necessarily write that I think.
    Huh? Having a bit too much
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