Questions and Answers - Independent School Accreditation
Q&A for Independent Schools
How can I get information about a school’s accreditation status and/or copies of its accreditation reports?
Do the New England states recognize NEASC Accreditation?
Yes. All of the New England states recognize NEASC Accreditation of independent schools as part of their school approval process.
Does NEASC collaborate with any other accrediting agencies?
Yes. NEASC works collaboratively with the American Montessori Society (AMS), the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), and the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). Schools sometimes seek joint accreditation with NEASC and these agencies. NEASC works with these agencies to provide an accreditation process which supports the goals of both organizations and the schools. Visiting teams for joint accreditation represent both associations and all reports are shared with both organizations.
Within New England, NEASC shares its accreditation protocol with the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE). Both these agencies accredit some elementary schools in their regions and are aligned philosophically with NEASC regarding the purposes of accreditation.
What is the difference between strategic planning, long-range planning and multi-year planning?
The major differences between the three types of plans are the school’s knowledge of the present educational environment, the plan’s scope and the level of detail.
A strategic plan (the spaceship) establishes a vision for the school when the school is not completely sure of the rapidly changing dynamic educational landscape. This type of plan strives to position the school to define its future and to be able to respond to these dynamic changes. A strategic plan is transformative in nature and extends out at least 3-5 years. The details of the plan would be supported by a long-range plan. An example of this type of planning would be school mergers or international partnerships and/or campuses.
A long-range plan (the jet) is narrower in its vision than a strategic plan because the school has fairly- reliable knowledge of the future educational landscape. This type of plan moves the school toward improvement so that it can meet its needs in the future and generally extends out approximately 3 years. It contains goals, action steps, and budgetary implications to help the school achieve long- term sustainability and often feeds into a more visionary strategic plan. The movement of a school from a traditional educational program model to a program model that addresses 21st century learning skills across all grade levels and program areas would be an example of a goal found in a long-range plan.
A multi-year plan (the helicopter) is based upon very reliable information about the immediate educational landscape. This type of plan is more geared to maintaining the viability of the school rather than moving it forward. It extends out 1-3 years and consists of achievable yearly goals, action steps financial implications, persons responsible and benchmarks. The yearly review of a specific curriculum area would be an example of a goal or action step in a multi-year plan.
What is NEASC looking for when requesting a school's curriculum?
During the accreditation visit, a school is asked to submit a written curriculum to the Visiting Team. The curriculum should demonstrate an intentional and thoughtful progression of concepts and skills which are appropriate to the students enrolled. We would like evidence that the school has considered recognized research-based standards and used them to benchmark what students should know and be able to do at various points in their education. The written curriculum is not viewed in isolation but within the context of other documents requested, responses to various indicators, classroom observations, and conversations with faculty and staff. The Program Review documents, generally completed during the first few months of the Self-Study process, articulate how instructional strategies and methods used by teachers reflect the school’s core beliefs about teaching and learning. The Program Review documents also address key issues of mission alignment, differentiation, available resources, professional development, and vertical articulation.
In addition to the written materials submitted, the Visiting Team will be asking faculty how the school regularly discusses and reviews its curriculum. The expectation is that schools have institutional practices which encourage teachers to engage in curriculum review using student performance data as well as national best practices. Conversations with new teachers provide helpful information about how the school’s curriculum materials support new teachers as they plan lessons, adjust pacing, and determine assessments.
Can an online school obtain NEASC accreditation?
Yes. As educational models have shifted, NEASC has adjusted to meet the accreditation needs of online schools. Online schools follow the ACE Learning pathway for NEASC accreditation, a framework that is well suited to the innovative world of online learning. Online schools must meet the same Foundation Standards as brick-and-mortar schools, but in a contextually appropriate way.
NEASC considers applications from online schools who:
- have been fully operational for at least two full years
- offer a full-time educational experience to students via an online experience
- function as a learning community where relationships between stakeholders are strong
- are able to benefit from the NEASC accreditation process including a rigorous Internal Reflection process
- are legally authorized to operate as an online school in the headquarters location
- offer an English-Medium curriculum that is publicly accessible for students from a variety of countries
If your online school is interested in NEASC accreditation, the first step is to set up a call to discuss the school’s eligibility to apply. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.