Value of Accreditation
What is Accreditation?
Independent School accreditation is a peer-review process that fosters excellence in education and encourages school improvement through discovery, dialogue, compliance, and commitment. Accreditation enables a member school to develop clearly defined goals and objectives based on its mission and philosophy.
Accreditation is both a process and a status. It is the process of reviewing schools and their programs to assess their educational quality – how well they serve students and society. The result of the successfully completed process is the designation of “accredited” status.
All accrediting organizations use common practices, including a self study by the school against the standards, an on-site visit by an evaluation group of peer experts and a subsequent review and decision by the accrediting body about accredited status. This review is repeated every five to ten years if the institution or program is to sustain its accreditation.
Established accrediting organizations themselves are usually subject to external review, a process called “recognition.” This involves periodic examination of the organizations based on a set of standards. For the member accrediting associations of ICAISA, this external examination is carried out by members of the Council.
“As the leader of a school accredited by two ICAISA member organizations, I can attest to the importance and influence of the accrediting process in helping our school and our community of trustees, faculty and staff, students, and parents to thrive within the context of our mission. As a Head of School who embraces the challenge and responsibility of leading an accrediting team and serving on a standards committee, I can confidently assert that ICAISA recognized associations serve a vital role in promoting the rich variety of strong, mission-driven independent schools across the globe.”
David W. Monaco | Allen Meyer Family Head of School, Parish Episcopal School
Value of Accreditation
The accreditation process is designed to assist a school in engaging the energies of all community members in reviewing and clarifying the school's purpose and goals for students, and in developing plans to accomplish these goals. The school also develops measurements that show the degree to which its goals for students are achieved. Because each school community is unique, the accreditation process permits the school to use considerable flexibility in its approach to the self study yet still be linked to sound components of a quality self-assessment.
Through the completion of the accreditation process schools will have:
- Involved the school community in a collaborative way;
- Clarified the school's purpose and its goals for its students - and the programs, people, and facilities that support them;
- Assessed all aspects of the school's operations, the student program and its impact on student personal and academic growth with respect to the criteria and standards;
- Received a cogent, forthright, and detailed written report from a committee of trained and experienced peer educators and administrators that will serve as future planning guidance, as well as an accountability system for monitoring the school’s improvement plans;
- Assured that students and the public can expect that a school or program lives up to its promises and confidence may be held in the worth of a school and its programs;
- Provided students validation of expectations of quality for transferring credits, application to colleges and universities, and possible eligibility for financial aid;
- Confirmed that the public presentation of an educational program, student services and graduate accomplishments is fair and accurate; and additionally
- Assured that a neutral, external party (the accrediting organization) has reviewed the quality of education provided and has found it to be not only satisfactory, rather exemplary, based upon the association’s standards for excellence and appropriate peer expertise.
Complaints between individual persons and schools: It is ICAISA’s policy to not intervene in any specific complaints between an individual and a school. ICAISA encourages these individuals to pursue their issue directly with the school by contacting the appropriate school official.
Complaints between individual persons and ICAISA Member Associations: If an individual believes that an ICAISA-member association is not conducting its accreditation program with broad and general adherence to the ICAISA Criteria for Effective Independent School Accreditation Practices, that individual may submit his/her written complaint in writing to the Executive Director of ICAISA. The complaint must be signed and dated and must include contact information for the complainant. It is within the sole discretion of the Executive Director of ICAISA, after consultation with selected members of the Board of Directors, to determine whether or not to respond to the complaint, to conduct any necessary investigation and to determine the nature of the response. ICAISA will endeavor to maintain confidentiality regarding the complaint and any resulting investigation and response.