The commissions of the regional associations and the national accrediting agencies recognized by the Secretary have no legal control over educational institutions or programs. They promulgate standards of quality and admit to membership those institutions that meet the standards.
Relationship with the U. S. Department of Education. The Commission on Colleges of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges has been listed since 1952 by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for institutions offering programs of at least one academic year in length at the postsecondary level. Recognition was reaffirmed in November 1997 for a five-year period. The Commission notifies the Department of any changes in the scope of its activities.
Within thirty (30) working days the Commission files with the Department notification of actions it has taken on institutions. However, it files immediately with the Department a copy of the institutional action letter that involves an adverse action of probation, show-cause, denial, or withdrawal of status.
The Commission maintains communication with the Department of Education and other federal agencies. It responds to DOE inquiries regarding institutional eligibility for Title IV; on receipt, it forwards to the institution for comment claims of Title IV fraud and abuse; and it shares with the Department of Education clear evidence of possible Title IV fraud and abuse. The Commission notifies an institution whenever the Commission provides such information about it.
Actions of State Agencies and Other Accrediting Bodies. In considering whether to grant candidacy or initial accreditation status to an institution, the Commission shall require an institution to report to it actions taken by other recognized accrediting bodies which have (a) denied such status to the institution, (b) placed the institution on public probation, or (c) revoked the accreditation or preaccreditation status of the institution.
An institution accredited by or having candidate for accreditation status with the Commission is expected to remain in good standing with other recognized accrediting bodies or specialized accrediting bodies which accredit the principal program of the institution with which it has accreditation or preaccreditation status. If another recognized accrediting body or governmental agency (a) places an institution or the principal program offered by the institution on public probationary status or (b) revokes such status, the institution shall report that action to the Commission on Colleges, which will promptly review the accreditation or candidacy status it has previously granted to the institution to determine if there is cause for it to alter that status.
In accordance with CFR 602.30 (ii), the Commission will not reaffirm the candidacy or accreditation of an institution during a period in which the institution:
In effecting the above principles in cooperation with other appropriate recognized accrediting bodies and governmental agencies, the Commission will routinely share with other such bodies the accreditation or candidacy status of all of its members or candidate post-secondary institutions.
Unannounced Evaluations. In accordance with CFR 602.24(b)(4), the Commission will make at least one unannounced on-site review during the interval between reaffirmation evaluations to each institution which provides vocational education or training as defined in the Glossary. The purpose of this review is to determine whether the institution continues to comply with the standards and policies of accreditation.
Retention of Records. Through its records retention program, the Commission maintains the official records of Commission actions on institutions. It also retains copies of institutional reports and materials, and copies of evaluation reports which formed the basis of those actions. These materials include applications for candidacy, comprehensive self-studies, progress reports, focused interim reports, and evaluations, and regular five-year interim report and evaluations. These documents are maintained through two evaluation periods.