Standards-based Approach

Cognia Performance Standards define excellence in every aspect of education. With Cognia standards as your guide, assure your learners high-quality schooling that prepares them for their next steps in education or career anywhere in the world.

What makes a good school?

Relevance for our times

Cognia formally reviews and updates our Performance Standards for education institutions at least every six years. This cyclical process helps assure that the standards that guide our improvement and accreditation strategies continue to be viable and relevant to education in today’s world.

Read about the process

The development process includes:

  • Review of standards rating data from the past five years to determine practices where institutions struggled and demonstrated success
  • Environmental scans and research review
  • Input from practitioners on innovative practices in education
  • Multiple peer and external reviews
  • Approval by Cognia’s Global Accreditation Commission

Standards and protocol

The current Cognia Performance Standards went into effect in July 2022. They build on many of the themes in our previous standards and stimulate thinking about schooling with significant new concepts. The updated protocol extends the accreditation term from five to six years for most institutions. It builds in more opportunities for support and collaboration with Cognia, to help your institution’s team achieve a shared vision and understanding, and to achieve progress in your improvement initiatives.

Read about the Standards

The new standards and rubrics exemplify four key characteristics of high-quality schools and systems, demonstrated across the institution:

Healthy culture for learning and coherence with the institution’s mission and vision

Leadership for learning—leaders’ responsibility for positive impact and influence

Engagement of learning to include all learners and develop their love of learning

Growth in learning, showing learners’ readiness for transitions

One set of standards now applies to all K–12 and postsecondary institutions. Details relevant to different types of institutions is addressed in other Cognia Accreditation resources.


Read about the Protocol

The six-year cycle gives you more time to implement initiatives, evaluate them, and prepare for your next cycle, and provides additional support for your institution. Other changes include:

Guidance and support from Cognia experts throughout your accreditation and improvement activities

Orientation and training for your team to prepare for success

Self-Assessment phase to gather your evidence and identify your strengths and needs

Progress phase, providing more collaboration from Cognia to sustain momentum


When your education institution works with Cognia for accreditation, certification, or other continuous improvement, your stakeholders can be assured that learners are benefiting from a high-quality education recognized around the globe. Learn about the benefits of membership in the Cognia global network.

We can’t just ‘do the work’ and then forget about it… We have to change what we’re doing right along with the times. The Cognia model is making a difference for schools that want to be better.”
Dr. Mark Vollmer
Minot Schools (ND)
Member since 2010