THE HISTORY OF VISA: The Virginia Independent Schools Association (VISA) has been a charter member of the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE) since 1974. VISA was founded in 1969 by schools from all regions of Virginia. In 1987 oversight of accreditation was moved from the state board of education to VCPE and VISA was a recognized organization for accreditation by VCPE. Each member school has a representative that serves as a director on the VISA Board of Directors. These directors are charged with the task of developing standards that member schools must follow, which provide a foundation for a strong educational program for students enrolled in member schools.
THE HISTORY OF VCPE: The Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE) was organized in 1974 as the Virginia affiliate of the National Council for American Private Education (CAPE), which has headquarters in Washington, D.C. Twelve different associations currently comprise the VCPE membership and each of these represents preschool, elementary, and/or secondary academic institutions. All VCPE members must be non-profit and have a racially nondiscriminatory membership policy.
The Council, while recognizing and encouraging a diversity of beliefs, a variety of education philosophies, and the independence of each member 4 association, strives to represent and speak on educational issues of common concern and interest. The Council is committed to the preservation of pluralism in American education and to the right of parents to choose an education appropriate for their children. To ensure and promote the vitality that freedom of choice allows, the Council makes known to the public the aims and goals to which its member organizations jointly subscribe. VCPE monitors legislation affecting private schools. VCPE is available to members of the legislature, to the Board of Education, and to the Department of Education to furnish information about and to articulate the private school viewpoint on educational matters relating to the private sector. It also serves as a vehicle through which the public school viewpoint may be conveyed to the nonpublic school constituency. Many private schools in Virginia believe it is desirable to seek accreditation as a means of strengthening their programs and facilities and assuring the public that the published purpose and philosophy of a school are being fulfilled. On April 25, 1985, the Virginia Board of Education transferred the accrediting process for nonpublic schools to the VCPE Commission on Accreditation. The Commission on Accreditation was created by VCPE for the purpose of approving appropriate accreditation processes for nonpublic schools in order to secure recognition for these schools by the Virginia Department of Education.
During the process, an association submits its accrediting standards to VCPE for review and approval. Upon approval, the accrediting association administers its own accrediting process for the schools in the association. The VCPE Commission on Accreditation would convene and be comprised of only representatives from approved accrediting associations. The original purposes for the Commission on Accreditation were to assist in the sustained and enhanced quality of elementary and secondary education among nonpublic schools of Virginia; to coordinate efforts within the nonpublic school community in the Commonwealth of Virginia in order to maintain nonpublic schools as a viable and responsible educational alternative; to provide guidance to member organizations in the process of self-evaluation; to ensure that member associations establish and maintain in their schools general policies and standards policies and standards for excellence; to review and approve accreditation processes used by member associations; to verify the 5 certification of accreditation or candidacy status; to review annual reports to the Commission on Accreditation of regular and affiliate members of VCPE which demonstrate adherence to policies and standards of the Commission on Accreditation; to review petitions and appeals from accrediting agencies and member associations about programs of evaluation; to ensure that the accreditation agency provides for the safekeeping of student permanent records; provide for communication between the Department of Education Liaison for Nonpublic schools and members of VCPE by identifying a Liaison from each VCPE member organization. When dealing with other issues, the full body of VCPE would convene. On November 30, 1998, the commission on Accreditation and VCPE legally became the entity.
VCPE’s accrediting process became effective April 25, 1985, on a 2-year trial basis and was given full approval by the Virginia Board of Education on July 1, 1987. Since that date nonpublic schools have not used the state’s accreditation process. In November of 1993, the Virginia Board of Education reconfirmed its relationship with VCPE in the form of a resolution. The 2000 General Assembly passed language to affirm this arrangement in Virginia’s Code (See 100.4). The Virginia Department of Education provides a link to the VCPE website for those searching the web for further information about private education in Virginia; the Department’s website is http://www/pen.k12.va.us
Virginia Council for Private Education 1901 Huguenot Road, Suite 301 Richmond, VA 23235 Website: www.vcpe.org Phone: (804) 423-6435 FAX: (804) 423-6436
The Virginia Independent Schools Association does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic, national, or religious origin.