There has been much debate about accreditation of schools and whether schools need to be accredited. You might be asking yourself that very same question: Is Calvary Chapel Rialto Christian School accredited, and if not, what does that mean for my child's education?
The answer is no, we are not accredited, but we believe a better question to ask might be: What usefulness does accreditation have for an elementary school and a junior high school like Calvary Chapel Rialto Christian School?
The answer to this question, in our opinion, ranges from nothing to practically nothing. We say this not only because CCRCS has chosen at this time not to be officially accredited, but also because it is the truth. When accreditation is sought below the college level, the primary reason is, generally, simply to provide parents with some comfort level that the program is legitimate (i.e., of at least some minimal quality) – not a scam of some sort. Some parents consider accreditation important due to confusion and misinformation about accreditation at the elementary school level of education, which we hope this explanation will help dispel.
Predictably, some schools that do seek and obtain accreditation at the elementary level tend to tout that fact for marketing purposes by exaggerating its utility at this level. To be fair, some schools, and even some accrediting bodies, quite accurately state that the utility of accreditation at the elementary/high school level is simply a comfort factor for parents – assurance by a 3rd party the program or school is neither a scam nor a diploma mill, and meets some minimal standards.
If a parent or student has a real concern whether the elementary school program they are considering is legitimate, they really need to investigate the program more (such as read up on it, talk to others using the program, etc.). If the school is a scam, there’s a good chance it is claiming to be accredited by an organization that is also a scam. It takes no more effort in creating a bogus program or school than it does to create a bogus accrediting body. There is no federal or state requirement for a school to be accredited, therefore there are no official government accrediting bodies. The six regional accrediting associations that most people are familiar with (the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, for example) are officially recognized at the college level only.
Legitimate accrediting bodies (i.e., those making a serious attempt to determine which schools or programs they review are good or bad) at the elementary school level, each set their own standards and criteria for making their judgments, and are not governmentally recognized at that level. So it is still left to parents to determine if, in fact, the accrediting body is legitimate (a task often more difficult than deciding if the school is legitimate), and if they value and agree with their standards and methods used to judge schools and programs. For instance, some accrediting bodies consider the teaching of creationism as an obstacle to accreditation, others do not. All of which begs the question: Isn’t it easier and more reliable simply to examine and judge the school or program for oneself?
Furthermore, the accrediting process is very expensive, prohibitively so for a school our size. We have decided to put our resources into the education process rather than into a label that, for all intents and purposes, does nothing directly for the school or the students.
In the end, there are no instances where being accredited is a necessity for CCRCS. We prefer to let the quality of our program speak for itself. For peace of mind, parents should know that we are a member of the Calvary Chapel Education Association (CCEA) and the Association of Christian Teachers and Schools (ACTS).
If you have any other questions on this issue, please contact the school office and a school administrator will be happy to discuss it further with you.
In His Service,
Calvary Chapel Rialto Christian School