Public Elementary, Middle, and High Schools

Standards for Accreditation - Public Elementary, Middle, and High Schools

2020 Standards for Accreditation

for schools hosting Visiting Teams in the year 2020 and beyond

The Standards for Accreditation act as the foundation for the cycle of accreditation: the school's self-reflection, the on-site visits by peer review teams, and the school's planning and follow-up process. They guide the school and its community toward a clear and comprehensive school improvement/growth model by which they can assess themselves; gain valuable, objective feedback from other educators; and implement a realistic and relevant planning process to improve education for their students.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Public Schools requires member schools to demonstrate alignment with the Standards for Accreditation. The 2020 Standards for Accreditation — effective for elementary, middle, and high schools hosting Accreditation Visits in the year 2020 and beyond — have been streamlined into five core Standards to better fit the redesigned Accreditation process.

Intended to promote an effective learning organization with the capacity to meet the needs of all students through continuous reflection and growth, the most notable updates and major themes amplified in the revised Standards are:

Standards Architecture

Improved architecture
The 2020 Standards were organized to blend similar concepts and reduce the redundancy of previous versions. Five Standards and 32 Principles of Effective Practice provide schools a simpler format to guide their progress (the 2011 version includes seven Standards and 54 indicators).

New vocabulary

  • Principles of Effective Practice
    Each Standard includes Principles of Effective Practice, which define the expectations for that Standard. Schools will be asked to reflect on and report their progress in aligning with the Principles for each Standard.
  • Descriptors of Effective Practice
    Descriptors of Effective Practice serve as examples of what each Principle looks like in practice in a school. Descriptors are guidance or benchmarks to assist schools in aligning with each Principle.
  • Foundational Elements
    At a minimum, Accredited schools must align with each of the Foundational Elements. The Foundational Elements represent essential building blocks for each Standard. Schools that are not yet aligned with the Foundational Elements are expected to prioritize work to ensure alignment with those Elements.

Major Themes

Culture of Learning encourages a look at the school environment, instruction, and curriculum from a learner’s perspective.

Growth Mindset, or a schools’ capacity as a learning organization, reinforces the idea that all schools have room to grow or improve.

Vision of the Graduate emphasizes a holistic view of expectations for students, including the transferable skills, content, understandings, and disposition that students should have by the time they graduate and a method of assessing a student’s progress toward that vision. Within these themes, we’ve sought to reflect current research and significant input from practitioners and member schools. We offer many thanks to the commitment of so many dedicated volunteers and contributors for their time, energy, and direction.

2020 Standards

Learning Culture promotes shared values and responsibility for achieving the school’s vision.

Student Learning practices maximize the impact of learning for each student.

Professional Practices ensure that practices and structures are in place to support and improve student learning.

Learning Support ensures that the school has appropriate systems to support student learning and well-being. 

Learning Resources ensure that the school has the resources necessary to meet the learning needs of all students.