District Accreditation Piloted in Maine
In February 2019, NEASC's first district-wide collaborative conference was piloted in partnership with the Falmouth Public Schools in Maine. The new 2020 Standards for public school accreditation make the district process possible because there is now one set of standards for all three levels: elementary, middle, and high schools. Previously, a school system would have used two different sets of standards and scheduled a separate review visit for each school. This new approach is much more viable due to a streamlined process and only one collaborative conference required for the entire district.
To prepare for meetings with NEASC, the three schools which make up the Falmouth district — an elementary, middle, and high school — worked together on a single Self-Reflection, with a committee drawn from each school and the central office. The committee looked at all five NEASC/CPS Standards and 32 Principles through the lens of each school plus the entire district. A team of six, including NEASC staff and experienced volunteers from the education community, was then assembled for the Collaborative Conference Visiting Team. All three of Falmouth's schools are located on the same campus, so the team started the first day of the visit together to hear about the process used for the district’s collaborative Self-Reflection. The team then split up into three pairs (one pair assigned to each school) to tour, visit classes, and meet individually with students and teachers. At the end of the day, everyone came back together to meet with school leadership and parents. In the evening, the team reassembled and spent a great deal of time sharing observations. On the second day of the visit, additional observations and evidence were reviewed so the teams could assimilate information, draw conclusions, and summarize in written reports.
A district-wide approach to accreditation allows both the school district and NEASC Visiting Teams to gain a systemic perspective and see how the schools interact and support one another. A much clearer view of continuity, collaboration, and articulation of curriculum across the schools is made possible through the disctrict process.
If your district is interested in this new approach to accreditation, please contact:
Director, NEASC Commission on Public Schools