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University of Michigan President Pro Tempore, Henry Frieze created the secondary school system in America. Prior to the Civil War, most public education occurred at the primary level, and colleges and universities were obliged to create associated academies to prepare students for college work. Frieze instead began the practice of certifying select Michigan public schools as capable of offering respectable college preparation, thereby freeing the university from preparatory commitments and stimulating the schools of the state to extend their responsibilities into secondary education. This was the device that unleashed the high-school movement in the Midwest and later the nation, not only enabling the state universities to cultivate scholarly aspirations, but reshaping public education into clearly differentiated elementary and high schools.

In 1871, high school inspection and the accrediting of diploma schools began. This system, now adopted by most of the state universities, began on this campus at that time, chiefly through the efforts of Henry Simmons Frieze, Acting President from 1869 to 1871.

How it Began

Here is the original record, from the Literary Faculty's minutes of February 27, 1871 :

"It was carried that the action of the committee appointed to make suggestions concerning the connection between the high schools of the State and the University be sanctioned. In accordance with this action the following statement was ordered introduced into the catalogue:


"Whenever the faculty shall be satisfied that the preparatory course in any school is conducted by a sufficient number of competent instructors and has been brought up fully to the foregoing requirements, the diploma of such schools, certifying that the holder has completed a preparatory course and sustained an examination in the same, shall entitle the candidate to be admitted to the University without further examination."

The Roll of Honor

That first year the high schools at Adrian, Ann Arbor. Detroit (Central), Flint (Central) and Jackson were accredited, and have remained continuously on the list ever since. The next year Kalamazoo was added; and Coldwater, Grand Rapids Central. Pontiac Central, Ypsilanti, Battle Creek, Fenton. Niles, Saginaw, Monroe, and Arthur Hill of Saginaw have all been on the list for more than fifty consecutive years.

The Michigan Alumnus

November 7, 1931, Page 140


High School Accreditation