Process of Accreditation
Directly below are the steps for initial accreditation. For the steps for renewal accreditation, click here.
Step 1 of Initial Accreditation
A faculty representative of the faculty-school college wishing to acquire OpenLATCH Education Foundation accreditation (henceforth, "the applicant") emails the current OpenLATCH Education Foundation’s Executive Director to declare the group's intention to initiate the process. The email affirms that the faculty college has been in operation for at least 1 year and is solvent. The goals, programs, and mission statement of the faculty college are briefly described in the email. (During this initial year, the school can post language on its web site indicating its intentions to pursue accreditation.)
Step 2 of Initial Accreditation
Comparing this information with the scope and purpose of the OpenLATCH Education Foundation, the Executive Director determines whether or not the applicant should continue with the application process. Applicants whose applications are approved for evaluation are mailed a letter from the Executive Director notifying them of this decision and are encouraged to place the phrase “Application Pending for Accreditation from the OpenLATCH Education Foundation” on the accreditation page of their school’s web site.
Applicants who do not fit the scope and purpose of OpenLATCH are given detailed reasons as to how and why this decision to suspend the application was made and are supplied with suggested revisions to their structure or mode of operation if OpenLATCH accreditation is still to be pursued by the faculty group.
Step 3 of Initial Accreditation
The applicant conducts a 1-year self-study based on the guidelines of this manual. The group assiduously tracks its compliance with the accreditation requirements per the current OpenLATCH application manual and collects the necessary verifying documents and data. The group completes the application packet with ancillary supporting documents and mails the material to the Executive Director. Once the Executive Director receives this material and accepts it for evaluation, the applicant is notified that it should place the phrase “Candidate for Accreditation from the OpenLATCH Education Foundation” on its school's web site. If something of the pack is amiss, however, then the Executive Director provides extensive written feedback and advice to the applicant on how the matter can be amended.
NOTE: The self-study year can be completed by the faculty group before the group contacts the Executive Director to notify the OpenLATCH Education Foundation of its intent (see step 1, above). However, such preparatory investment does not guarantee that the group’s application will be immediately accepted for evaluation. If the group’s application is not accepted for evaluation, then the group will have to engage in a new self-study for another year.
Step 4 of Initial Accreditation
The Executive Director and at least 1 level-3 or level-4 assessor evaluate the application pack. Both have to agree to approve the application. The Executive Director then fills out a Recommendation for Approval form and distributes the form, the anonymous material of the application pack, and any necessary accompanying data to 2 level-2 assessors and 1 level-1 assessor, 2 of which must agree with and sign the Recommendation for Approval form.
Assessor levels are as follows:
A professionally employed or retired member of the public who understands and supports the goal of the OpenLATCH Education Foundation.
A person who has been on the faculty of n accredited a faculty college, college, or university for at least 2 years.
A person who has been on the faculty of an accredited faculty college, college, or university for at least 5 years.
A person who has been on the faculty of an accredited faculty college, college, or university for at least 10 years, or a person who has been on the faculty of a traditional college or university for at least 5 years and who has also been the chair or coordinator of a traditionally structured academic department of the humanities for at least 1 year.
Step 5 of Initial Accreditation
The Executive Director or a level-4 assessor goes on a site visit to verify the identities of the faculty members and to examine the classroom spaces. During this visit, travel expenses are itemized and directly reimbursed by the faculty group.
Step 6 of Initial Accreditation
After the site visit, the Executive Director and two other assessors from the level-3 or level 4 tiers hold a final vote on whether or not the faculty group should receive OpenLATCH Education Foundation accreditation. This group of 3 is called the “Executive Director’s Council”, and it is only this council’s final vote that determines whether or not the applicant is awarded OpenLATCH Education Foundation accreditation. The faculty college is awarded accreditation if at least 2 of the 3 votes are in favor of awarding the accreditation. The Executive Director mails the faculty college’s Accreditation Certificate to the school’s director.
Step 1 of Renewal Accreditation
Faculty colleges are accredited for 5 years and must apply for renewal of accreditation no later than the first month of the fifth year of their current accredited term. An email is sent to the OpenLATCH Education Foundation Executive Director expressing interest in renewing accreditation. The faculty group spends six months of the last year of the current 5-year accredited term conducting an internal self-study to compile evidence of their compliance with OpenLATCH-accreditation requirements over the five years that they have held OpenLATCH accreditation. This information is mailed to the Executive Director for examination. If the material is satisfactory, then the Executive Director immediately proceeds with Step 2. If the material is lacking or unsatisfactory, the Executive Director works with the faculty group until the material is satisfactory and then proceeds with Step 2.
Step 2 of Renewal Accreditation
The Executive Director or a level-4 assessor goes on a site visit to re-verify the identities of the faculty, to re-examine the classroom spaces, and to talk with students to see if accreditation standards have been upheld in the classroom. Travel expenses are itemized and directly reimbursed by the faculty group. If there has been no substantial change to the character, mission, and logistics of the faculty group since it first received accreditation, a certificate of continued accreditation valid for 5 years is issued by the Executive Director or the level-4 assessor to the faculty group. If, however, substantial change has occurred, then while on the same site visit, the Executive Director or level-4 assessor articulates in writing his or her understanding of the changes and has the faculty group affirm by signature that the document properly represents these changes. The process of renewing application then proceeds to Step 3.
Step 3 of Renewal Accreditation
After the site visit, the Executive Director or the level-4 assessor who went on the site visit and 2 other assessors from the level-4 or level-3 tier examine the statement of substantial changes in the faculty group seeking renewal of accreditation. They hold a final vote on whether or not the faculty group should receive renewal accreditation. The faculty group is awarded renewal of accreditation for 5 years if at least 2 of the 3 votes are in favor of awarding the renewal. However, if 2 or more of the 3 votes are for discontinuing accreditation, then the faculty group is denied renewal but, if it so wishes, is granted a period of 2 years to realign itself with the core values of OpenLATCH Education Foundation accreditation. During these 2 years, the faculty group holds "candidacy accreditation" status. After 2 years, the process of reinstating the faculty group begins at Step 1 of Renewal Accreditation.
Open Latch Education Foundation, a Non-Profit Organization
1242 North Wyngate Way, Maryville TN 37803