The purpose of accreditation is to ensure institutional effectiveness and quality assurance that the higher education institution provides programs that meet or exceed targeted levels of quality. Accrediting agencies are educational associations of regional or national scope that develop standard-based evaluation criteria, peer evaluated to assess whether or not those criteria are met. When the institutions and/or programs requesting accreditation meet the criteria or standard, they are then "accredited" by that agency (U.S. Department of Education, 2011).
Sam Houston State University (SHSU) is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), and the SHSU educator preparation programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Through the process, the whole institution is examined to determine how well the parts work together to enhance student learning.
A voluntary method of quality assurance, accreditation is designed to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards. Accreditation is a significant achievement stating an institution’s quality of education while building capacity to improve student learning and facilitate continuous school improvement.