The National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services (NCASES) is a subsidiary of the National Association of Private Special Education Centers. The NCASES was established to provide an accreditation process that is uniquely geared toward the programs and populations served by special education providers. The goal is to ensure that students in private special education are provided safe and healthy work environments that are conducive to learning.
The NCASES has developed a set of standards and a process by which an institution can be evaluated based on the criteria established by the standards. Standards were developed with input from the private and public sector, human service professionals, parents, funders, and higher education. NCASES standards are systematically reviewed, revised and published based on continuing input from the special education field. Standards are designed to differentiate superior quality from mere adequacy. In order to be accredited, an institution must comply 100 percent with all core standards established by the NCASES and 90 percent with the other established standards.
In an effort to implement a system to maintain and improve quality and also preserve and encourage innovation and diversity, the NCASES follows the tradition of developing accreditation processes that are private and voluntary. The accreditation process provides quality assurance for parents and families of students in private special education. For educational institutions, accreditation strengthens standards for best practices, reinforces program missions and goals and provides recognition for excellence.
Accreditation is provided for special education programs and educational residential programs. In order for an organization to receive accreditation, an organization must have been in operation for at least two years. The organization must provide at least one of the special education services covered by the program, it must employ and pay staff to perform those services and have clearly defined and identifiable educational programs.
The accreditation process is reliant upon self-evaluation and peer review. Prospective institutions are required to submit a completed self-evaluation study of their institution as part of the application process. This provides the institution with an opportunity involve its entire staff and governing board in the process of examining its structure, policies, and procedures.
NCASES Site Team Visit
After submitting application for accreditation and the documented self -evaluation study, the institution will be visited by an NCASES site team, which will report back to the NCASES commission. The site team is inclusive of a team leader and at least two other people known as site team members. The actual number of persons who participate in site team visits is based on the institution’s client capacity. If the institution serves less than 50 clients, a three-person site team will visit. If the institution serves between 50 and 200 clients, a four-person site team will visit, and if the institution serves more than 200, but less than 400, a five-person team visits. The commission makes a decision regarding accreditation based on information submitted with the application for accreditation and the site team report. An organization is either accredited for a four-year period, deferred for a specified time or denied accreditation.
Accreditation services are provided at the expense of the institution seeking accreditation. The institution is required to bear all expenses of the site team visit and pay the $250 non-refundable application fee. If the accreditation is for special education in a residential setting, the accreditation fee is an additional $4000. Otherwise, the fee is $2,500.
Primary Areas of Examination for Accreditation
The site team and the commission will assess the following with regard to the worthiness for accreditation:
- Organization- its mission, legal sanction, regulatory compliance, governing body and ethical conduct
- Administration- authority, accountability, policies and procedures
- Personnel- practices, records, qualifications, diversity, development and training
- Services – persons served, confidentiality, record keeping, research, handling complaint and appeals, individual staff services, instructional planning, instructional methods, curriculum development, admission and exit procedures
- Community –identification, education and planning
- Health and Safety- regulations, procedures
- Financial Management- budget, resources, funds management, audits, allocations and insurance coverage
- Evaluation- program evaluation, data collection, studies, goals and objections
NCASE S Accredited Programs
The following institutions, sorted by location, are accredited by NCASES.
Board of Child Care Strawbridge School
The Children’s Guild
Arrow Child & Family Ministries
The Grandfather Academy
Banner Elk, NC
The Horizons School
Green Chimneys School
New York Institute for Special Education
Cherry Hill, NJ
The Children’s Guild
The Spurwink School
The Day School at the Children’s Institute
Eden Autism Services
Boston Higashi School
The Education Center at the Watson Institute
PACE Program at National Louis University
St. Coletta of Greater Washington
Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center
Timber Ridge School
Seven Hills Academy