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Take accreditations seriously

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It's one thing for Utah teachers and parents to complain - justifiably - about large classes and inadequate money for books and supplies. It's another when an outside group of evaluators issues warnings that the problems must be solved or some schools may lose their accreditation.

The Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, which grants or denies vital accreditation status to schools in several western states, has warned nine Utah high schools and three "special" schools that they must remedy a variety of problems.Most of the problems stem from inadequate resources: libraries without enough books and periodicals, teachers lacking proper credentials, classes with too high staff-to-student ratios.

Utah's education system has performed relatively well over the years, despite the large classes and the lowest spending per pupil in the nation.

On average, students consistently score at or above national levels on standardized tests. The graduation rate is high, and a majority of students go on the college or technical training.

But the threat of losing accreditation should be a wakeup call to administrators and lawmakers that more or better distribution of money and more attention to filling requirements are needed.

The warnings are worrisome because losing accreditation could mean students have a difficult time getting accepted to colleges and universities of their choice and may not be able to transfer credit to other schools.

Most Utahns recognize that educators in this state do a creditable job with a large student population and limited resources. But feeling good about one's self doesn't mean much if vital outside evaluations come up short.