Cognia, the world’s largest accrediting organization, which serves more than 36,000 schools in the United States and 85 countries, announced today new performance standards effective July 1, 2022. Cognia is announcing these changes nearly a year ahead of time to enable all schools, and particularly large school systems, to be familiar with the new standards well in advance of implementation. The new standards define one set of expectations designed to benefit learners across all K–12 and non-degree granting postsecondary institutions.

Reasons for Change

Cognia’s Performance Standards describe the practices of a quality education institution and provide the criteria for improvement efforts to grow learners, teachers, leaders, and organizations. Every five years, Cognia formally reviews and revises its standards and procedures to reflect the most current education research, respond to changing needs of educators and learners, and strengthen the applicability of the standards to institutional improvement. Educators can rely on the sound research base and peer review process for standards that are viable and relevant in today’s world. See the standards.

“An organization dedicated to continuous improvement must itself continually improve,” says Dr. Mark A. Elgart, president and CEO of Cognia. “Our new standards focus on the learner and what must be done to ensure readiness and preparedness for their future. Some the key themes in the new standards include the importance of equity in the teaching and learning process so that every learner has the opportunity and support to succeed. Additionally, ensuring that each student has a voice in the learning process and agency over their learning is a critical component to these new standards.”

“The changes in standards,” Elgart says, “encourage schools to use every tool at their disposal—data, student engagement and motivation, the learning program, the talent of staff and teachers, and other resources—to help schools continuously improve and put the learning and development needs of students at the center of what they do.”

What’s New

Previously, there were different standards for each institution type. The new Cognia Performance Standards will apply to most Cognia-accredited institutions except early learning and extended learning programs. Standards revisions build on the lessons and influences of recent years to stimulate new thinking about schooling. Read more about the standards.

New aspects include:

A focus on the learner: the impact on the learning journey of processes and practices, which reflect the performance of the institution. Further, the standards emphasize the importance of ensuring student voice and agency in the learning process.

Demonstration of equity: for every learner across all aspects of the institution. Equity is expressed and ensured in the institution culture, programs and services, allocation of resources, instructional practices, and curriculum in a manner that values and embraces the diversity of individuals, families, cultures, and more.

Learner well-being: beyond instruction and across multiple aspects of learners’ circumstances and environment, so that every learner can grow.

Unified expectations: a single set of standards for all K–12 and postsecondary institutions, acknowledging that expectations of institutions to ensure learner success applies to all schools. Details relevant to different types of institutions will be addressed in other Cognia Accreditation resources.

About Cognia

Cognia is a global nonprofit improvement organization dedicated to helping institutions and other education providers grow learners, educators, and leaders. Cognia offers accreditation and certification, assessment, and professional services within a framework of continuous improvement. Serving 36,000 public and private institutions from early learning through high school in more than 85 countries, Cognia brings a global perspective to advancing teaching and learning. Find out more at