Core Standards are those that define the culture of independent schools and relate directly to the first of the Criteria for Effective Independent School Accreditation Practices. While they do not serve as a template, these standards reflect the core elements of independent schools and their operation and should be represented in some form in an ICAISA-recognized association’s accreditation instrument.
1. The school has a clear statement of educational mission. The stated mission and philosophy guide the school’s admissions, programming, planning, and decision-making.
2. The mission of the school is congruent with principles of academic scholarship, permitting and encouraging freedom of inquiry, diversity of viewpoints, and independent and critical thinking.
3. The school makes full, accurate, and truthful disclosure of its mission, policies, expectations, programs, practices, school culture, finances, and governance structure.
Governance and Fiscal Responsibility
4. The governing board of the school is a deliberative body with clearly defined roles and responsibilities that are communicated to all constituents. It provides for:
a. continuity of mission
b. stability in transitions of leadership
c. establishing and monitoring school policies and general programs
d. comprehensive strategic and financial planning
e. financial oversight, accountability, and sustainability
f. policies related to pluralism, diversity, equity, and inclusion
g. policies related to environmental sustainability
h. risk management and school safety
i. evaluation and support of the professional development of the head of school
j. clearly-defined and regularly-applied procedures to orient, educate, and evaluate the governing body
k. a model of inclusive decision-making for the school community
5. The governing body consistently exercises its fiduciary responsibility.
6. The governing body engages an independent accounting firm to conduct an annual audit of the school’s financial statements and practices.
7. The governing board provides opportunities for generative thinking on a regular basis.
8. There is evidence of effective management of resources sufficient to advance the mission of the school, and to provide for financial sustainability.
9. There are effective policies and procedures for the management of operating and capital funds in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles and practices.
10. The governing body delegates the operational and educational functions of the school to the head of school.
11. The educational program stems from the school’s beliefs about teaching and learning that are regularly reviewed and that are consistent with the mission of the school.
12. All school programs (including early childhood, residential, extended care, etc.) demonstrate consideration for the well-being and the appropriate intellectual, social, physical, aesthetic, emotional, and ethical development of students in all aspects of school and student life.
13. The school has sufficient resources to support the program of the school and the needs of the students and professional staff.
14. Instructional materials, resources, equipment, and infrastructure are of sufficient quality, quantity, and variety to provide effective support to the goals and methods of the program.
15. Requirements and expectations for students, parents, faculty, administrators, and staff, and trustees clearly reflect the values and mission of the school.
16. Procedures are in place to assess individual student progress toward meeting the goals of the program, and to communicate progress effectively and appropriately to students and families.
17. The school demonstrates that its educational programs, instructional practices, and institutional culture are informed by relevant research regarding how students learn and the knowledge and capacities they will need to lead purposeful, constructive, and ethical lives.
18. Faculty and staff are well-qualified through education, training, and/or experience to fulfill the responsibilities of their positions.
19. The school ensures that there are sufficient and trained administrators, faculty, and staff members dedicated to supporting students and their families across all cultures.
20. The administration actively supports the professional development of faculty and staff through allocation of time and resources.
21. The school implements clearly defined programs for supervision and regular performance evaluation of the administration, faculty, and staff.
22. Personnel and human resources practices provide equitable and ethical treatment of all faculty, administrators, and staff with respect to compensation, workloads, and working conditions.
Culture and Climate
23. In keeping with its mission, the school promotes an equitable, just, and inclusive community of adults and students, fosters a culture of learning, and inspires students to respect and value diversity in its many forms.
24. The school promotes environments that provide opportunities to enhance positive interaction among domestic and international students, and to develop sensitivity and understanding regarding cultural differences and needs that are specific to international students.
25. The school recognizes global connectedness, promotes a culture of global understanding, and fosters a commitment to the values of environmental sustainability for current and future generations.
Health, Safety, and Well-Being
26. The school has a process to ensure that it demonstrates compliance with all state, local, and federal regulations.
27. The school ensures that it provides appropriate care, support, and protection of all students, including attention to their health, safety, and well-being.
28. The school ensures that boarding personnel and/or homestay host families receive specific training, supervision, and evaluation that address the needs of boarding and/or international students.
Recruitment, Admission, Enrollment, and Retention
29. The school has mission-aligned procedures in place to ensure that students can be well-served by the school programs.
30. The school is transparent in its admission and retention policies and provides information that accurately describes tuition levels, fees, and all other expectations.