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North Carolina Votes to Sidestep Private Accreditation Agencies

Earlier this year, the 143,000-student Wake County district in North Carolina was warned by the private accrediting agency AdvancED that if the school board didn't stop its political squabbling, the district's high schools risked losing their accreditation.

State lawmakers responded this week by passing a law that would prevent the state's university and college system from considering whether an incoming student comes from an accredited high school, unless the accreditation comes from a STATE agency—in other words, any actions from AdvancED could no longer affect a student's admissions, scholarship or financial aid prospects.

In actuality, even in school systems that have been penalized by AdvancED, students usually don't bear the brunt of problems in the central office. For example, in Clayton County, Ga., AdvancED yanked the district's accreditation in 2008. At that time, the governor signed a bill that allowed Clayton students to still be eligible for scholarships that normally would go only to students who graduated from accredited schools. Clayton regained full accreditation in May.

Wake County is not the only North Carolina district under the AdvancED microscope. The 13,400-student Burke County was placed on probation and has until the end of this month to show that it has made major changes in district management.

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