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Glossary of Terms

This glossary contains terms found in Commission publications, on this website, and in the education community. Several subsets of this glossary are available; click on the description in the menu to view them.

Definitions of Education Terms

View another subset of the Glossary.

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ABD "All But Degree" or "All But Dissertation"

Not a formal degree; applies to someone who has completed all the requirements for a Ph.D. except the dissertation.


Acronym for the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The ACCJC, one of the Commissions of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), evaluates and accredits public and private postsecondary institutions offering one or more educational programs of two academic years in length that grant the associate degree.

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ACT is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides more than a hundred assessment, research, information, and program management services in the broad areas of education and workforce development. ACT administers a standardized external battery of tests administered by the American College Testing Program covering English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning. The tests are designed to assess the student's educational development and readiness for college-level study and may be used by institutions in lieu of SAT.

A-G Courses

Refers to the University of California's Subject Requirement for admission, prospective freshmen must complete a series of high school courses known as the "a-g" requirements. The "a-g" requirements include 16 units of high school courses, seven units of which must be taken in the last two years of high school. A unit is equal to one academic year, or two semesters, of study. In the Commission databases, the "a-g" Completions indicate the number of high school graduates that completed all "a-g" courses with a grade of “C” or higher.

The Requirements are in the following subjects:

  • (a) History/Social Science
  • (b) English
  • (c) Mathematics
  • (d) Lab Science
  • (e) Lang Other Than English
  • (f) Visual & Performing Arts
  • (g) College Prep Elective

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Acronym for the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. The AICCU represents a group of 76 California independent colleges and universities. These seventy-six institutions work together to maintain the high standards of a private college education in the association and report information about member schools to State, federal, and private agencies. AICCU members account for an estimated 98 percent of the independent sector’s total enrollment in California postsecondary education. Student’s attending AICCU institutions also receive 93 percent of the State financial assistance received by students attending an independent college or university in the state. The AICCU nonprofit independent colleges and universities should not be confused with "proprietary" schools or "for-profit" and degree-granting institutions that are not regionally accredited. Examples include Stanford University, Santa Clara University, Pepperdine University, National University, the University of Pacific, and University of Southern California.

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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA (1990) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.


Acronym for Advanced Placement Program, referring to high school courses that prepare students to take examinations which allow them to earn college credits while in high school and, therefore, lessen the time it takes to earn a baccalaureate degree.

ASSIST (Articulation System Stimulating Interinstitutional Student Transfer)

ASSIST is a computerized student-transfer information system that can be accessed over the World Wide Web. It displays reports of how course credits earned at one California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California’s colleges and universities and therefore provides the most accurate and up-to-date information available about student transfer in California. ASSIST is a student-centered, electronic information system for students planning to transfer. It serves as a key component of a comprehensive statewide information and advising system to enhance student transfer, and provides universal online access to articulation. ASSIST's mission is to facilitate the transfer of California Community College students to California's public four-year universities by providing an electronic system for academic planning which delivers accurate, timely, and complete information and operates as the official repository of articulation information for the state of California.

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ATP Code

The American Testing Program (ATP) Code or College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) Code is a 6-digit number that is used by standardized tests such as SAT and ACT. The first 2 digits indicate the state; all California schools start with "05". The ATP Code is a 4-digit number for higher education institutions.

AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress)

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, each State must establish a definition of "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) to use each year to determine the achievement of each school district and school. For California, there are four components.
  1. A minimum percentage of students at each school, each district, and each student subgroup perform at or above the proficiency level in English-language arts and mathematics each year on state assessments.
  2. All schools, districts, and student subgroups must have at least 95 percent of their students take the designated state tests.
  3. The school and district must show growth in their Academic Performance Index (API) score.
  4. The school and district must show growth in the high school graduation rate (high schools, high school districts, or unified school districts only).

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Acronym for the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. The BPPE is a branch of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The BPPE serves as the state's oversight and regulatory agency for private proprietary institutions.

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CAN (California Articulation Number System) – no longer operational

The California Articulation Number System (CAN) was a course identification system for common core lower-division transferable, major preparation courses commonly taught at community college and CSU campuses. Colleges and universities that demonstrated common acceptance of courses through traditional articulation agreements were able to qualify courses for CAN designations. Courses with CAN designators were accepted by any participating institution as being comparable to courses with the same CAN designators to meet local requirements, even if the receiving university had not established an explicit traditional articulation agreement with a particular community college. CAN was designed as a cross-reference course identification system for a common core of lower-division, transferable, major preparation courses commonly taught on community college, CSU, and UC campuses. CAN was created to promote the transfer of community college students to UC and CSU by simplifying the identification of transferable courses and indicating the disciplines and programs at institutions to which those courses are transferable. CAN was funded by the state through the CSU and community colleges and was discontinued in 2006.

CAPI (Collaborative Academic Preparation Initiative)

Collaborative Academic Preparation Initiatives (CAPI) is a California State University grant-funded partnership. CAPI is a collaborative effort between university and high school teachers designed to help high school students achieve their academic goals and ultimately become successful college students. Using workshops and on-site collaboration in Math and English, CAPI develops, pilots, and refines teaching strategies and techniques designed to achieve program goals.

The collaborative is made up of CSU faculty, high school faculty, and college and high school students. As of the early 200s, CAPI consisted of around 200 high school partnerships formed with 19 CSU campuses involving 231 CSU faculty members and 1,128 high school teachers

CAPI offers a variety of professional training workshops and activities that help make teaching high school a more enjoyable and successful experience for both teachers and students alike.

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Acronym for the California Community Colleges. The CCC system of two-year public institutions is composed of 109 colleges statewide organized into 71 districts. The community colleges serve about 2 million students and represents the largest system of higher education in the world.

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Acronym for the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office. The Chancellor’s Office is the administrative branch of the California Community College system. Located in Sacramento, this state agency provides leadership and technical assistance to the 109 community colleges and 71 community college districts in California. It is also responsible for allocating state funding to the colleges and districts. The Chancellor's Office operates under the guidance of the Board of Governors, which sets policy and provides long-range planning and guidance to the Chancellor and his staff. The Chancellor’s Office includes seven major divisions conducting the business of the system: College Finance and Fiscal Policy Planning; Legal Affairs and Contracts; Educational Services and Economic Development; Policy, Planning and External Affairs; Student Services; Human Resources; and Internal Affairs.

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Acronym for the California Department of Education.

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CDS Code

The CDS (County-District-School) code system is an administrative convenience designed to provide the California Department of Education (CDE), the Department of Finance (DOF), and postsecondary institutions with a basis for tracking schools. The CDS code is a unique identifier that allows schools to be easily sorted and tracked in databases. This 14-digit code is the official, unique identification of a school within California. The first two digits identify the county, the next five digits identify the school district, and the last seven digits identify the school. A CDS code is a number assigned to a school. CDS codes are not assigned to programs. Evidence that the entity is a school rather than a program is provided by the governing board action approving formation of the school and board action establishing the school. Governing boards can act only by a majority vote at a public meeting (Education Code §§ 1011, 1013, 1040, 35163, 35164; Government Code § 54950 and following (the Brown Act)).


College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) Code (aka ATP Code) is a 6-digit number that is used by standardized tests such as SAT and ACT. The first 2 digits indicate the state; all California schools start with "05". The CEEB Code is a 4-digit number for higher education institutions.


Acronym for the Classification of Instructional Programs. This is a National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) publication that provides a numerical classification and standard terminology for secondary and postsecondary instructional programs.

CLEP (College Level Examination Program)

A program offered by the College Board designed to offer students the opportunity to earn college credit by examination.


Refers to California State University (CSU) Chancellor's Office Systemwide Administrative Reporting Code. This is the 6-digit school code portion of the 14-digit County-District-School (CDS) Code.

CSMP (California Subject Matter Projects)

The California Subject Matter Project (CSMP) is a professional development organization for educators comprised of a network of nine discipline-based statewide projects. CSMP works to improve student achievement and learning through comprehensive, discipline-based professional development of teachers, especially those who teach in the state's high priority schools.

CSMP sites are organized into 15 regional councils consisting of site leadership that includes university faculty, school and district personnel, county office coordinators and teacher leaders who work together to respond to the needs of teachers and students across the state. Sites are hosted by regional campuses of the University of California, California State University, and independent colleges and universities.

The CSMP network includes the subject matter content represented in the California K-12 standards and frameworks and all of the academic disciplines to support college entrance requirements. The CSMP provides classroom teachers with a variety of professional learning opportunities such as workshops, leadership institutes and in-service designed by teacher leaders and faculty content specialists to improve instruction for all learners. Participants engage in research and use research-based strategies to improve their practice in the teaching of reading, writing, literature, foreign language, mathematics, science, history, international studies, physical and health education, and the arts.

The nine CSMP professional development discipline-specific projects are:
  • The California Arts Project
  • California Foreign Language Project
  • California History-Social Science Project
  • California International Studies Project
  • California Mathematics Project
  • California Physical Education and Health Project
  • California Reading and Literature Project
  • California Science Project
  • California Writing Project


Acronym for the California State University, which is administered by the Office of the Chancellor of the California State University. The California State University is the largest, the most diverse, and one of the most affordable university systems in the country. It is the gateway institution for the great majority of students seeking a baccalaureate education in California, and for those who seek professional training as teachers, nurses, social workers, and engineers. The CSU offers more than 1,800 bachelor's and master's degree programs in some 240 subject areas. Many of these programs are offered so that students can complete all upper-division and graduate requirements by part-time late afternoon and evening study. In addition, a variety of teaching and school service credential programs are available. A limited number of doctoral degrees are offered jointly with the University of California and with private institutions in California.

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CTE (Career Technical Education) Programs

Programs (disciplines) that prepare students for entry into a wide variety of employment opportunities in 15 industry sectors.

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EAOP (Early Academic Outreach Program)

Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) is a program works directly with students at underserved schools to increase the number of students who have the opportunity to achieve a college education. The purpose of EAOP is to increase the number of students who have the opportunity to achieve a postsecondary education. EAOP employs four key program services-academic enrichment, entrance exams, academic advising, and college knowledge- to successfully help students attain college eligibility and attend college.

EAOP is the largest UC academic preparation program, serving over 39,000 students at 43 middle schools and 266 high schools. In 2007, EAOP provided 27,000 students with academic planning, 12,000 seniors with financial aid and college application assistance, 9,000 students with college visits, and 8,500 students with educational field trips. EAOP reports its outcomes to the legislature annually as part of the SAPEP accountability report.

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EOP (Educational Opportunity Program)

The EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) is designed to improve access and retention of low-income and educationally disadvantaged students. EOP students have the potential to perform satisfactorily in CSU but have not been able to realize their potential because of their economic or educational background. The program provides admission, academic, and financial assistance to EOP-eligible undergraduate students.

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Expected Family Contribution

Expected Family Contribution (or EFC) is a term used in the college financial aid process. It is the estimate of the parents' and/or student's ability to contribute to paying the costs of the students's postsecondary education. The lower the EFC, the less money a family has to contribute to a child's education and the more financial aid the student is likely to receive.

EFC is usually calculated based on a student's FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Some colleges and universities use the their own forms to help determine the EFC.

The EFC is usually subtracted from the total cost of attendance to determine a student's financial need. If a student's EFC exceeds the projected cost of attendance, the student has financial need. Eligibility for a number of federal, state, local, and institutional aid programs is based on a student's EFC.

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FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as the FAFSA), is a form that can be filled out annually by current and anticipating university students (both undergraduate and graduate) and sometimes their parents in the United States to determine their eligibility for federal student financial aid (including Pell grants, Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and work-study programs). In addition, most states and schools use information from the FAFSA to award non-federal aid.

The FAFSA consists of numerous questions regarding the student's finances, as well as those of his or her family; these are entered into a formula that determines the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). A number of factors are used in determining the EFC including the family size, income, number in college, and assets (not including retirement and 401K). This information is required because of the expectation that parents will contribute to their child's education.

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The acronym FTE refers to the term "full-time-equivalent" enrollment, a calculation used by the state to determine funding levels per student. The California State University and the University of California use FTE, to describe units of student workload measure for funding purposes for the systems. For the California State University, the term FTE enrollment is defined to be 15 semester or quarter units. Variations in the academic calendars of the campuses of the CSU are taken into consideration in the definition of the annual FTES, which is equivalent to 30 semester or 45 quarter units. With these definitions, the number of individual students on campus is difficult to determine, but the total volume of instructional activity is more accurately reflected. For the University of California, one undergraduate FTE in the semester system is student enrollment in 15 semester units for two semesters. One graduate FTE in the semester system is student enrollment in 12 semester units for two semesters. In the quarter system, the totals are 45 undergraduate credit units and 36 graduate credit units per academic year, respectively. Though the terms FTE and FTES are often used interchangeably, it is important to note that FTE enrollment and FTES are determined through entirely different methodologies.

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GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

A standardized external examination of verbal and quantitative skills usually required by graduate schools of business and used to assess the qualifications of applicants for MBA programs.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

A two-part standardized external examination designed to measure general verbal, quantitative and analytical skills (General Aptitude Test) and knowledge and understanding of subject matter basic to graduate study in specific fields (Advanced Tests). The GRE is generally required by graduate schools and is used to assess the qualifications of applicants to master's and Ph.D. programs.

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Acronym for the Higher Education General Information Survey system. HEGIS operated between 1966 and 1985.

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IMPAC (Intersegmental Major Preparation Articulated Curriculum)

The Intersegmental Major Preparation Articulated Curriculum (IMPAC) project is a statewide, intersegmental effort where faculty in selected disciplines discuss prerequisite and lower-division courses students must complete prior to transfer to either CSU or UC. Its goal is improving student transfer through increased awareness and involvement of faculty. One aspect of IMPAC is that each discipline develops a grid of all university campus lower division major requirements. These IMPAC Discipline Grids identify specific university requirements and courses and provide a comparison of requirements across campuses including notations of campus-specific variances. IMPAC is supervised by the Intersegmental Council of Academic Senates (ICAS) to get faculty to work together to develop a common understanding of major preparation requirements around the state. IMPAC is one of many efforts to get CSU and UC faculty, respectively, to agree on these basic premises so that faculty in the system will have consistent standards to use to develop actual articulation agreements with other higher education systems. IMPAC is funded through contract funds allocated through the community colleges. This effort was initially funded in the 1999-2000 budget.


Acronym for the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, established as the core postsecondary education data collection program for NCES, is a system of surveys designed to collect data from all primary providers of postsecondary education. IPEDS is a single, comprehensive system designed to encompass all institutions and educational organizations whose primary purpose is to provide postsecondary education. The IPEDS system is built around a series of interrelated surveys to collect institution-level data in such areas as enrollments, program completions, faculty, staff, and finances.

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LABI (Los Angeles Basin Initiative)

Funded by the University of California Office of the President, and administered by the UCLA campus, the UC-Los Angeles Basin Initiative (UC-LABI) is a collaborative outreach effort of the eight undergraduate UC campuses. The aim of UC-LABI is to enhance the academic preparation and to expand the pool of educationally-disadvantaged students from Los Angeles who are eligible and competitively eligible for UC admission. UC-LABI provides funding to participating UC campuses to offer summer/intersession enrichment programs for Los Angeles County middle school and high school students, community college students, teachers, counselors and administrators.

LSAT (Law School Admission Test)

A standardized external examination used by law schools to assess applicants' verbal, analytical and reasoning skills.

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Master of Business Administration.

MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

A standardized external examination designed to measure specified science knowledge and its application in solving related problems, and of other learning and reasoning skills considered important for the study of medicine, used by medical schools to assess applicants.

MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement)

MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) is an academic enrichment program that serves educationally disadvantaged students with an emphasis, to the extent possible by law, on students from groups with low rates of college eligibility so they excel in math and science and attain math-based degrees from four-year institutions.

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National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS)

A national survey of students from public and private 2-year and 4-year colleges designed to determine how students and families pay for college. The survey includes undergraduate, graduate, and first professional students and is conducted every 3-4 years by the National Center of Education Statistics.


Acronym for the National Center for Education Statistics. NCES is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data that are related to education in the United States and other nations.

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Occupational Information Network (O*NET or ONET) - The nation's primary source of occupational information. The O*NET database has information about hundreds of occupations.

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Acronym for the Office of Postsecondary Education. OPE is a division of U.S. Department of Education.

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The OPE (Office of Postsecondary Education) ID is used by the Department of Education for federal student financial aid eligibility purposes. It is an 8-digit number. The first 6 digits of the OPE ID identify the main campus. The last 2 digits represent branch campuses or additional locations. For the main campus the last 2-digits will always be "00".

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PAD (Precollegiate Academic Development) Program

Precollegiate Academic Development (PAD) Program is a unique program created by the California State University system to help middle and high school students prepare for college level courses as well as provide information and skills to enhance students' access to a higher education. Trained PAD tutors provide personalized academic enrichment in math, reading, and writing for students in selected middle and high schools to assure their success in college level courses.

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The Regional Workforce Preparation and Economic Development Act (RWPEDA) was adopted by the California Legislature in 1996 as part of the Welfare-to-Work Act. Senate Bill 1744 reauthorized the Act in 1998. This Act is an extremely important piece of legislation that reaches out to all citizens of California. Its overarching vision is to unite economic development with education and workforce preparation (job training and employment programs) to assure that California has a world-class competitive workforce.

The Act was written in recognition of research showing that the State did not have one economy, but rather many regional economies. The vision of the Act is to be achieved by the “…integration of existing local and regional partnerships that support initiatives in education, workforce preparation and economic development” that will “demonstrate how, through the collaboration of state and local resources, education, workforce preparation and economic development services can be delivered to clients in a more responsive, integrated and effective manner.”

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A standardized admissions examination (formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the Scholastic Achievement Test) of mathematical and language arts skills. The test is taken by high school students to demonstrate their knowledge and potential for success in university level study. The test is usually required for admission to public university undergraduate programs.

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The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCAN) was convened in February 1990 to examine the demands of the workplace and to determine whether the current and future workforce is capable of meeting those demands. The Commission identified five competencies (i.e., skills necessary for workplace success) and three foundations (i.e., skills and qualities that underlie competencies). The competencies include resources, interpersonal skills, information, systems, and technology. The underlying foundations are: basic skills-reading, writing, arithmetic and mathematics, speaking, and listening; thinking skills-thinking creatively, making decisions, solving problems, knowing how to learn, reasoning; and personal qualities-individual responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, and integrity.

SOC Code

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Code is a Code designed to classify and identify all occupations in which work is performed for pay or profit, reflecting the current occupational structure in the United States.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Disciplines

Any discipline (program) related to Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics.

SEE: Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics for additional information.

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STRF (Student Tuition Recovery Fund)

The name of the fund mandated by law for the purpose of providing relief or mitigating pecuniary losses by any California resident who is enrolled at an approved private postsecondary school and meets all conditions specified in law.

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TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language)

A standardized test administered world-wide to determine proficiency in English and required by most US institutions of all foreign applicants whose first language is other than English.

TSE (Test of Spoken English)

A test designed to assess the spoken English proficiency of people whose native language is not English. The TSE is often required of graduate students seeking assistantships.

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UCCP (UC College Prep Initiative)

UC College Prep Initiative (UCCP) provides online Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors courses, textbooks, tutoring, and AP test preparation at no cost to eligible high school students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to achieve eligibility or competitive eligibility for admission to the University of California and other top universities.

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UCRP -- University of California Retirement Program

UCRP is the acronym for the University of California Retirement Program (also referred to as UCRS University of California Retirement System). This is a retirement system set up for University of California employees.

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Acronym for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is one of six regional associations that accredit public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the United States. The Western region covers institutions in California and Hawaii, the territories of Guam, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Pacific Basin, and East Asia, and areas of the Pacific and East Asia where American/International schools or colleges may apply to it for service. The accrediting activities of WASC are conducted by the three Commissions. Each Commission works with a different segment of education

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Acronym for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, accrediting commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. The Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities is one of three accrediting commissions for different educational levels that comprise WASC. The agency is recognized as the regional accrediting body for the accreditation and preaccreditation ("Candidate for Accreditation") of senior colleges and universities in California, Hawaii, the United States territories of Guam and American Samoa, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The Commission currently accredits 149 institutions and preaccredits four institutions located throughout its region. Accreditation by the Commission enables those institutions to establish eligibility to participate in the Higher Education Act and other Federal programs. Therefore, the Commission must meet the separate and independent requirements.

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