Lutheran School Accreditation

In the early ‘60’s the “school visitor” process, that was established to assist schools in the improvement of instruction and administration, gave way to Lutheran School Accreditation. School principals, under the leadership of the Counselor for Parish Education, established standards for Lutheran School in the Texas District. Accreditation involved the school in a process of local evaluation of all aspects of its ministry on the basis of the established standards. When the evaluation was completed the results of the evaluation—a report—was shared with the district accreditation committee. The report was reviewed and the school received an on-site evaluation by a team of trained visitors—principals and teachers of other Lutheran schools in the district. On the recommendation of the visitation team a school was granted accreditation by the Texas Accreditation Committee.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s The Texas Education Agency (TEA) accredited non-public schools. Some of the larger Texas District schools applied for and received State Accreditation. In the mid 80’s the TEA decided it would no longer accredit non-public schools. At that time a number of non-public school groups, like the Lutherans, had schools accredited by the state and were also conducting their own accreditations. Representatives of these various groups—Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Episcopal, Christian and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accreditation agency—approached the Commissioner of Education to explore what would replace TEA accreditation. The commissioner urged each group to establish its own accreditation process. An associations list of accredited schools would then be shared with the commissioner of TEA who would recognize the schools as accredited and isted in the states annual listing of accredited schools, not as state accredited but as a non-public school accredited by its own association.

The Commissioner did not want his agency to have to validate the accreditation process of each organization so he suggested that an umbrella organization be formed by the associations to due such screening. The commissioner would accepts the recommendations of that group. The groups worked together to develop the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission (TEPSAC). Representatives of the aforementioned groups, including Keith A. Loomans, Asst. Director of Parish Services of the Texas District, LCMS, became the founders of TEPSAC. The founders established a set of guidelines by which a school association’s accreditation process would be evaluated to determine the validity and strength of the association’s process. School associations that met the criteria established by TEPSAC organizing group became members of TEPSAC and were certified before the Commissioner of TEA.

At this time the Texas District Lutheran School Accreditation Committee was revising its standards and did so to meet the TEPSAC criteria. The revised process called for the Texas District Lutheran School Accreditation (LSA) to be governed by a commission appointed by the President of the Texas District, LCMS. LSA was submitted to TEPSAC and approved and LSA became a charter member of TEPSAC.

About the same time the School Department of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, St. Louis, was involved in developing a program of National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA). Texas District personnel shared the Texas materials with the national group. When NLSA was finally established, the Texas District process was certified by NLSA so that a Texas District school using the Texas District process would receive both district and national accreditation. Both processes included guidelines for self-standing pre-schools, combined pre-school/elementary schools, elementary schools and high schools.

Texas District personnel were also involved when representatives of National Lutheran School Accreditation meet with leaders of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to establish a process through which Lutheran Schools, through one process, could also be accredited by the Southern Association.

Many Texas District pre-schools and elementary schools are accredited by district and national accreditation. All the high schools are so accredited Some daycare and preschool programs in the district are also accredited by the National Association for the Education of the Young Child (NAEYC).

Dr. Keith A. Loomans