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Cognia Advanced Accreditation & Certification

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`Cognia, formerly known as AdvancED, is a non-profit organization that offers  accreditation and certification to educational institutions. This accreditation process evaluates the quality and effectiveness of our schools’ programs and  practices. It is a rigorous and thorough review that aims to ensure that our  schools meet the highest standards in education.

Cognia Accreditation is a significant evaluation of Madison’s programs and practices. We are pleased to announce that we are embarking on this journey for reaccreditation, which began in October 2023. The entire process will conclude in January of 2025. 

Madison's engagement in a Cognia Accreditation Self-assessment focuses on several key characteristics:

Result of accreditation experience

View Cognia Accreditation Flyer

A holistic approach

As the most powerful form of improvement, Cognia® Performance Accreditation uses research-based standards and evaluative criteria to examine a whole institution or system—the policies, programs, practices, learning conditions, and cultural context—to determine how well the parts work together to carry out the system’s vision. The accreditation experience includes both self-assessment and evaluation from professional evaluators. Along the way, your team uses a suite of research-based tools and resources aligned with the Cognia Performance Standards. An experienced leader is on hand to guide you through the process. Then, you get ongoing guidance to sustain measurable change.

A mark of excellence

Cognia Accreditation is a designation of quality recognized around the world. It is awarded by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). Together, these organizations have been accrediting institutions for more than 125 years.

Benefits of system accreditation

The Cognia corporation system accreditation model encourages one shared vision of continuous improvement and a common language of improvement to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Through this process, you’ll: • Determine how well components work together to meet students’ needs • Increase transparency and buy-in of processes and policies • Enhance communication and collaboration across teams • Improve equitable management of human and fiscal resources • Engage your teams in targeted training and professional development • Set strategic direction based on system-wide data Our corporation system accreditation provides you with pivotal insights to help set improvement priorities, and ongoing support to elevate the system’s quality and commitment to continuous improvement.

Cognia’s beliefs about good schools

View the Cognia Performance Standards document

The quality of a school goes beyond its name, location, or reputation. An education institution succeeds when it supports every learner every day, offering opportunities for every learner to reach further. One hallmark of a good school is that it continually strives for improvement. Like the member institutions we serve, Cognia™ works to innovate and improve. In spring 2021, we completed a research and development cycle that takes place every five years, examining and updating the Cognia Performance Standards to acknowledge changes and set expectations for quality education institutions in a new era. Based on current research in education, input from practitioners, and multiple expert reviews, this cyclical development process assures that the standards at the foundation of our improvement and accreditation strategies continue to be viable, feasible, and relevant to educators in today’s world.

Cognia Journey

Accreditation & Improvement Infographic

Accreditation and Improvement

Candidacy: Launch Your Journey - New Members Only

Become a member of the Cognia Improvement Network and start your school or system’s journey to continuous school improvement. Cognia will guide you along the way. Delve into the Cognia Performance Standards and Accreditation Policies; complete the Candidacy Diagnostics to gain understanding of where your institution stands. A Cognia expert responds with a Candidacy Review and Candidacy Report, outlining your pre-accreditation needs and guiding you to efforts that will move you forward.

Self-Assessment: Set Up for Success

Using the guidance in the protocol and tools, your team collects and analyzes data to complete the Self-Assessment Diagnostics and demonstrate adherence to the standards.

Engagement: Demonstrate Your Strengths

Upload your Self-Assessment Diagnostics, Assurances, and Accreditation Portfolio to the Cognia Improvement Platform.

Coordinate with your Cognia evaluator to schedule and complete review activities.

You'll get an Engagement Review report that details Cognia's findings, highlights your noteworthy practices,
and identifies areas for improvement.

If your institution successfully meets accreditation standards, assurances, and policies, your accreditation
will be confirmed at the next quarterly meeting of the Cognia Global Commission.

Progress: Check Your Course

Toward the middle of your accreditation term, complete the institution’s part of the Progress Report, describing your improvements in the areas outlined in your Engagement Review Report.

Your Cognia team considers your progress toward the expectations from the Engagement Review Report and responds with feedback and support.

Work with your Cognia team to determine if you need to take any additional steps to stay on track.


Keep up the good work! Maintain your momentum for continuous improvement.

Your institution's leadership team prepares with orientation and training from Cognia to assure understanding of the standards and protocol.

Culture of Learning

    • Involves nurturing a healthy environment where stakeholders are connected to the institution's purpose and values.

    • Evidence reflects the institution's mission, beliefs, and expectations through various aspects like student work, the institution's appearance, and participation in activities.

    • Active engagement and support of the institution's mission by stakeholders are essential.

    • Focus on meeting learners' academic and non-academic needs while including and supporting stakeholders.

Leadership for Learning

  • Leaders play a pivotal role by engaging in their own learning and supporting the learning process for both learners and teachers.

  • Effective leaders communicate learning expectations consistently and embed them into the institution's culture, influencing behaviors and attitudes towards learning.

Engagement of Learning

  • An institution ensures learner engagement by including all learners in the learning process, fostering confidence and agency over their learning.

  • Growth in Learning:

    • A good institution positively impacts learners by preparing them for future transitions, enhancing readiness, and ensuring growth in both academic and non-academic skills.

The benefits of Cognia system accreditation include

  • Coordinated progress across schools and offices through a unified vision of continuous improvement.

  • Enhanced transparency, communication, and collaboration among teams.

  • Improved management of resources and strategic direction based on system-wide data.

  • Insightful data collection from learners, teachers, and families to analyze perceptions and drive impactful changes for improved stakeholder perceptions and student performance.

Overall, Cognia's accreditation process aims to create a culture of learning, effective leadership, learner engagement, and growth in learning while providing a systematic approach to continuous improvement based on insightful data analysis.