SAIS-SACS Accreditation Guidebook Revised: Sept. 9, 2008 Page 1
Revised: September 9, 2008
SAIS-SACS ACCREDITATION IS ADMINISTERED BY: Southern Association of Independent Schools
1866 Southern Lane, Suite 107, Decatur, GA 30033 Phone (404) 633-2203 – Fax (404) 633-2433
SAIS-SACS Accreditation Guidebook Revised: Sept. 9, 2008 Page 2
Table of Contents
SAIS Staff ....................................................................................................................................3
SAIS Board of Trustees ...............................................................................................................3
SAIS Accreditation Committee.....................................................................................................4
SAIS-SACS Accreditation Process ..............................................................................................6
The Self-Study ........................................................................................................................... 10
Sample Self-Study Format .........................................................................................................12
Bits and Pieces/Items that Might Be Useful to the Team ...........................................................13
Standards & Indicators With Commentary .................................................................................15
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President: Stephen Robinson, Ph.D.
Vice President: Lori Spear, CAE
Director of Accreditation: Michelle Langer
Member Services Manager: Martha Jondle
Website & Database Manager: LeeAnne Minnick [email protected]
SAIS Board of Trustees CHAIR
Mike Murphy, Headmaster Shorecrest Preparatory School
5101 First Street NE St Petersburg, FL 33703
Kay Betts, Head of School
Episcopal High School of Baton Rouge 3200 Woodland Ridge Blvd
Baton Rouge, LA 70816
Bob Chambers, Headmaster Athens Academy P.O. Box 6548
Athens, GA 30604
Theo Coonrod, Head of School Saint Mary's School 900 Hillsborough St Raleigh, NC 27603
Archie Douglas, Headmaster The Montgomery Academy
3240 Vaughn Rd Montgomery, AL 36106
Keith Evans, Head of School
Collegiate School 103 North Mooreland Rd
Richmond, VA 23229
Peter Jernberg, President Jackson Academy P.O. Box 14978
Jackson, MS 39239
Jill Muti, Head of School Ashley Hall
172 Rutledge Ave Charleston, SC 29403-5877
Marcia Prewitt Spiller, Head of School The Children's School
345 Tenth St NE Atlanta, GA 30309
Margaret “Sissy” Wade, Head of School Franklin Road Academy
4700 Franklin Rd Nashville, TN 37220
Kirk Walker, Headmaster McCallie School 500 Dodds Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37404
Board of Directors as of October 27, 2008
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SAIS Accreditation Committee
Bob Chambers, Headmaster Athens Academy P.O. Box 6548
Athens, GA 30604
Kay Betts, Head of School Episcopal High School of Baton Rouge
3200 Woodland Ridge Blvd Baton Rouge, LA 70816
Bob Brigham, Assistant Head of Academic Affairs
Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School 339 Nacoochee Dr
Rabun Gap, GA 30568
Barbara Daush, President St. Agnes Academy-St. Dominic School
4830 Walnut Grove Rd Memphis, TN 38117
Archie Douglas, Headmaster Montgomery Academy
3240 Vaughn Rd Montgomery, AL
Jeff Jackson, Head of School
Mount Vernon Presbyterian School 471 Mt Vernon Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30328
Myron Harrington, Executive Director Palmetto Association of Independent Schools
PO Box 20068 Charleston, SC 29413
Doreen Kelly, Head of School
Ravenscroft School 7409 Falls of the Neuse Rd
Raleigh, NC 27615
Mike Murphy, Headmaster Shorecrest Preparatory School
5101 First Street NE St Petersburg, FL 33703
Jill Muti, Head of School
Ashley Hall 172 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403-5877
Pat Taylor, Headmaster Jackson Academy
PO Box 14978 Jackson, MS 39239
Kirk Walker, Headmaster
McCallie School 500 Dodds Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37404
Therese Williams, Superintendent of Schools Catholic Schools Diocese of Nashville
30 White Bridge Road Nashville, TN 37205
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Introduction This guidebook is designed to provide important information and direction to SAIS members undertaking the SAIS-SACS accreditation process for Independent Schools. If your school is a member of both organizations, you are able to seek accreditation from SAIS and SACS in a single process. In this way, you incur the expense and investment of only one visit per five-year accreditation cycle, adhering to standards/indicators designed to meet the specific needs of the Independent School. Although this document is meant to be comprehensive, it is not exhaustive. Please use it as a guide and timeline for scheduling and completing the steps toward accreditation. Schools participating in the SAIS-SACS process should communicate and work directly with SAIS in all aspects of preparation, and we invite you to contact the SAIS office with questions. Schools currently affiliated with SACS will no longer work with the state SACS office for accreditation efforts, and you will report on your compliance as requested directly to the SAIS office. I trust that this process will be beneficial to your school and the constituents that you serve. Thank you for your continuing efforts on behalf of Independent School education, and the children that benefit. Sincerely,
Stephen Robinson, Ph.D. President Southern Association of Independent Schools
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The Accreditation Process Pre-visit
• A school seeking accreditation from SAIS-SACS is considered a Candidate School.
• The Candidate School must be a member of both SAIS and SACS.
• The SAIS-SACS Guidebook outlines the accreditation process for the Candidate School. • The Accreditation Coordinator serves as the liaison between SAIS and the school
throughout the accreditation process. This person is responsible for submitting all necessary accreditation materials per the stated guidelines. The Accreditation Coordinator may or may not be the Head of School. Additional tasks of the Accreditation Coordinator are determined by the school. The Accreditation Coordinator also serves as the primary contact for the school’s chair and visiting team, and manages the visit logistics. The majority of communication from SAIS regarding the school’s accreditation process will be directed to the Accreditation Coordinator via e-mail.
• Optional: The Accreditation Coordinator and key staff may choose to attend an accreditation workshop hosted by SAIS. Schedules and registration are available at www.sais.org under the Workshops & Events tab.
• The Candidate School must complete the Request for Participation (RFP) online at www.sais.org under the Accreditation tab, at least one year prior to the requested team visit date.
• SAIS will respond within 30 days of receipt of the RFP. If a response has not been received within 30 days, please contact Michelle Langer at SAIS at (404) 633-6146 or [email protected].
• The Candidate School can and should begin its self-study as soon as possible upon deciding to seek SAIS-SACS accreditation. Additional guidelines for the self-study are found on page 10 of this Guidebook.
• SAIS confirms a team visit date and assigns the chair of the visiting team.
• The Candidate School will make initial contact with the appointed chair. A “facilitator” is not necessary for the SAIS-SACS process, but SAIS will assist with the identification of one if requested. Although the chair will assist schools with logistical questions regarding accreditation, the school should not expect the chair to function as a “facilitator” of the process.
• The chair makes a preliminary visit to the school six months to one year prior to the team visit to check for compliance with the standards/indicators.
• The Candidate School provides the chair with a copy of the school’s initial responses to the standards/indicators at least two weeks prior to the chair’s preliminary visit.
• Providing evidence of adherence to, and compliance with, the SAIS-SACS standards is the foundation of the accreditation process. A short response to each indicator showing compliance or indicating where evidence of compliance can be found is sufficient. Please contact Michelle Langer at m[email protected] for a Word version of the standards/indicators.
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• In most cases, the preliminary visit will occur before the school completes the self-study.
• Visiting team members will be assigned by SAIS, in consultation with the visit chair. If desired, the Candidate School may request areas of expertise to be included on the team. The RFP has a place for these recommendations to be noted. The visiting team will consist of no fewer than five peer educators.
• At the beginning of the semester that the school will be visited, SAIS will invoice the school for the accreditation fee. This fee includes the chair’s honorarium, which will be paid to the chair by SAIS at the completion of the school’s accreditation process. Visiting team members do not receive an honorarium. NOTE: the chair honorarium will be discontinued beginning with fall 2009 visits, but the accreditation fee will remain.
• The Candidate School must forward a copy of its self-study and final standards/indicators responses to the chair and visiting team members at least four weeks prior to the team visit. The self-study may be sent via e-mail or regular mail. Some schools also post the self-study on the school website.
• The chair and Candidate School should work together to schedule and facilitate the logistics of a successful team visit.
During the visit
• During the team visit, the Candidate School should provide access to any and all supporting materials and documents related to ensuring compliance with the standards/indicators. Compliance with the standards is represented by satisfactory responses to all indicators.
• During the team visit, the Candidate School should provide appropriate access to staff, students, parents, and other constituents to ensure compliance with standards/indicators.
• Visits must last a minimum of 2.5 days, but may be longer if the chair and the Head of School feel more time is necessary. The visiting team chair will determine, in consultation with the Head of School, the most appropriate visitation schedule and format. See sample schedule on page 14. A typical visit will begin at noon on day one and conclude no earlier than 3:00 pm of day three.
• The school must provide an adequate work space in which the visiting team can examine evidence, deliberate, and construct the final report. Given the confidential nature of the visiting team’s work, the space should not be accessible to the school’s staff without permission from the chair. Necessary equipment and supplies for the work space should be determined in consultation with the chair.
• At the end of or immediately following the visit, all travel expenses of the team and chair should be paid through the school’s normal reimbursement process. The expenses should be reimbursed directly to the team members and the chair.
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After the visit
• Within 21 days after the team visit, the chair will e-mail the visit report to SAIS. The visit report will contain the visiting team’s recommendation regarding accreditation. Additionally, the chair will forward to SAIS the school’s responses to standards/indicators and its self-study.
• SAIS will forward the visit report to the Head of School and the Board Chair. The school will then have ten days to respond to the report before SAIS takes any action regarding the school’s accreditation status. A response from the school is not required.
• After a response from the school or ten days, the SAIS Accreditation Committee will act upon the accreditation recommendation of the visiting team. Following this final approval by the SAIS Accreditation Committee, the Candidate School will receive its accreditation.
• A certificate of accreditation from SAIS will be sent to the newly accredited school, typically within 90 days after the team visit. The SACS certificate of accreditation will be sent separately from the AdvancED office.
• Accredited schools must submit an interim report to SAIS two years after the team visit. This report ensures continued compliance with standards/indicators and documents efforts made in addressing the visiting team’s recommendations.
• Accredited schools must maintain membership in both SAIS and SACS.
• Accredited schools must abide by SAIS and SACS policies and procedures.
• Notification of change of Head: Accredited schools must notify SAIS in a timely manner of a change of Head of School, which may impact the school’s ability to meet accreditation standards/indicators. This should be sent to SAIS under the signature of the interim Head of School or the Board of Trustees Chair. Upon a change in Head of School, SAIS will conduct a visit to the school for the purpose of a new Head of School interview.
• Notification of crisis: Accredited schools must notify SAIS in a timely manner of any school related crisis which may affect the school’s ability to meet the accreditation standards/indicators. This information should be sent under the signature of the Head of School or Board of Trustees Chair. In the event that a crisis occurs which may substantially impact the school’s ability to carry out its mission and to meet standards, SAIS will initiate a discussion with the school’s leadership concerning the details of the crisis.
• Re-accreditation: All SAIS-SACS accredited schools must host a peer review visiting team within one semester before or the semester of the five-year anniversary date of their previous visit. A variance to this timeline must be approved by SAIS. The visit will demonstrate the school’s integrity and trustworthiness in complying with standards and responding to previous recommendations. A new self-study is required for each five-year period reflecting evidence of continuous improvement.
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Fall 2008 Preparation Timeline
July – September
Attend accreditation training / organize process and assign responsibilities related to the self-study and team visit
October – November Conduct stakeholder feedback / begin narrative writing and collating relevant data
December – April Self-study work continued as appropriate
May Complete self-study document
2008 June – August Final edit / assembly of self-study document
September (early) Prepare final self-study document / prepare for team
September (late) Mail self-study and team visit information to visiting team chair / team members
October (mid month) Site visit Spring 2009 Visit Timeline 2008
January – March Attend accreditation training / organize process and assign responsibilities related to the self-study and site visit
March – May Conduct stakeholder feedback / begin narrative writing and collating relevant data
June – November Self-study work continued as appropriate
December Complete self-study document
2009 January Final edit / assembly of self-study document
February (early) Document to printer / prepare for team visit
February (late) Mail self-study and team visit Information to visiting
team chair / team members
March (mid month) Team visit
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The Self-Study A school’s self-study process results in an actual ‘self-study’ report, used for self-evaluation and for the accreditation process. The self-study allows the school to: present documented evidence that validates its compliance with SAIS-SACS standards; express its plans and progress in the area of school improvement; and present its methods for ensuring quality assurance. The self-study not only represents a snapshot view of where the school is at that time in its history, but also provides a perspective of where the school has been, and a plan for where the school will go in the future. An important component of the self-study is the continuous improvement efforts of the school. Continuous improvement should be represented in four critical areas:
• A clear and compelling purpose communicated through the school’s vision and mission statements, beliefs, and core values.
• A clear and comprehensive profile representing the current status of the school as reflected by student performance data, stakeholder perspectives, community characteristics, and analysis of strengths and limitations in the areas of student learning and school performance.
• A strategic plan based on an analysis of pertinent data, research of best practices, and alignment with generally accepted expectations for student learning at schools with similar missions.
• Results of the school’s efforts and progress in the areas above. The self-study report should be a comprehensive yet concise document. Though the school has the freedom to convey these points in the format of its choosing, this document will be the basis for the visiting team’s understanding of the school. It should be written in a manner that will allow the visiting team members to develop a good understanding of the school and of the self-study process that has been undertaken. Schools may choose from several approved processes for the basis of determining current status and for their continuous improvement planning:
• The School Improvement Process,
• School Renewal Process
• A comprehensive strategic plan
• Alternative processes are acceptable as long as the method is one approved by SAIS, SACS, or NAIS. If a school chooses to use an alternative self-study method not currently recognized by SAIS, SACS, or NAIS, a request must be submitted along with your Request for Participation form to SAIS outlining the proposed method.
Another important component of the self-study is the presentation of the data to support the narrative assertions. The findings presented to the visiting team should be supported by various data elements, such as survey results, test scores, placement results, or other items representing student achievement gains. Understandably all facets of the school’s programs are not quantifiable, so qualitative support is also appropriate. Note: the results and findings should come from evidence that is documented, and this documentation should be referenced
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in the self-study narrative. Obviously the key findings of the data are reported in narrative form in the self-study, along with key data elements that help with understanding. However, in order to make the self-study manageable and readable, much of the data will appropriately be represented in the appendices or as items available for review during the team visit. The self-study process should be a comprehensive and inclusive undertaking. Although the process is typically facilitated by the Accreditation Coordinator and/or steering committee, all stakeholders in the school should be involved at some level in its development. The more comprehensive the involvement of the entire school community, the better the self-study. It should include input from faculty, staff, students, parents, trustees, alumni, and any other significant stakeholders. Assessment and evaluation processes such as surveys or focus groups should be used as appropriate. It is also important to consider longitudinal data and historical trends. Although these methods do not provide an exhaustive list of potential data gathering techniques, it is important for the school to understand that the self-study process must include data and documentation to support the understanding of the school. As noted, the self-study should be sent to each visiting team member at least four weeks prior to the team visit. The school is responsible for maintaining the master copy of their self-study.
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Sample Self-Study Format Section One
Introduction and Overview of the Process o Cover letter to visiting team o Executive Summary (1-3 page summary of the past 5 years) o Overview of the process utilized to develop the self-study
Section Two Current Status
o Response to previous visit recommendations (re-accreditation only) A school that is completing its five-year re-accreditation should provide a
response to the previous visiting team’s recommendations. o Analysis of compliance with standards
A succinct written statement of your current status regarding the standards. Provide evidence verifying the school’s compliance with standards.
Continuous Improvement o Vision (2-3 page narrative)
Mission and Beliefs Summary of process used to develop and assess mission and beliefs (retreats,
surveys, etc.) o Profile
Brief history Leadership structure (organization chart, job descriptions, etc.) Demographics and community characteristics Stakeholder perspective and involvement
• Faculty surveys • Parent surveys • Student surveys
Data-based school improvement (test scores, survey results, etc.) o Plan (insert current plan)
Summary of the cumulative strategic planning process Current master strategic plan
o Results (necessary documentation) Your results are documented evidence demonstrating successful implementation
of strategies that resulted in accomplishment of the school’s mission and student achievement gains to the school’s mission.
Quality Assurance (2-3 page narrative) Describe the methods employed to provide quality assurance. How does the school ensure that the plan for improvement is enacted,
monitored, and analyzed on a continuous basis? How does the school communicate the results of its efforts to improve student
learning? How does the school manage internal systems, organizational planning,
scheduling, evaluation systems, and allocation of resources to ensure they effectively serve and enhance student learning?
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Bits and Pieces Prior to the team’s arrival, the Accreditation Coordinator should:
• Ask for any special needs/requests/dietary restrictions from the team members. • Provide directions and parking information for the school and hotel. Provide parking permits
or notify security as necessary. • Hang directional signs on campus if appropriate. • Share emergency (home/cell) contact information for school coordinator/host. Perhaps
gather emergency information for each team member as well. • Prepare name badges for members. • Provide paper and pencils/pens. • Provide computer access --- find out if team members will bring their own laptops or if you
will need to set up access to school laptops or computer lab • Provide water, coffee, snacks. Items that might be useful to your team:
• School yearbooks, magazines, newsletters • Admissions materials – brochures, application, guidelines, etc • Curriculum guides • Strategic plan • Extra copies of the self-study • Student handbook • Staff handbook • Parent handbook • Board policy manual • Any other policies & procedures documents • Campus map • Surveys conducted with complete demographic data • Written response to indicators and any materials referenced therein • School calendar • Organizational chart • Job descriptions • College profile info • Mission statement • Marketing plan • Crisis plan • Professional development plan • Faculty/staff directory • Alumni surveys • Your school’s expense reimbursement form (a copy for each person)
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Sample Schedule for an SAIS-SACS Accreditation Team Visit Day 1 10:00 AM Team members check into the hotel 12:00 PM Team arrives at school campus for an orientation and organizational
meeting 2:00 PM Welcomed by Head of School, Accreditation Coordinator, and
administrative team 3:30 PM Campus tour 5:00 PM Team meets with Board of Trustees 6:00 PM Dinner with the team, Board of Trustees, Steering Committee and
administrators 7:30 PM Working session with the team and Steering Committee
7:30 AM Team breakfast 8:00 AM Team meeting 9:00 AM Team meets with faculty/staff of their choice or observes classrooms of
their choice 10:10 AM Team meets with school representatives as determined by chair and
school 11:15 AM Team visits with teachers and students during lunch 12:30 PM Team working lunch with Steering Committee
2:45 PM Team meets with the Curriculum Committee 3:25 PM Team meets with Assessment Committee 4:00 PM Team working session in the Team Room 4:45 PM Team meets with alumni 5:15 PM Team working dinner
8:00 AM Team breakfast 8:30 AM Team meets with parents 9:30 AM Team visits faculty/staff, classes, or works on report
11:00 AM Team works on report 12:00 PM Team working lunch 12:30 PM Team finalizes report commendations and recommendations
2:30 PM Team (or chair) provides brief oral exit report to the Head of School and the Steering Committee
3:00 PM Team visit concludes
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Standards & Indicators with Commentary These standards are for use by schools having SAIS-SACS visits after July 1, 2007. The new standards go into effect on July 1, 2007, and should be applied on ALL visits conducted after that date. The SAIS Accreditation Committee developed and approved these standards and indicators, which replace the 2004 version. The commentary in italics after each indicator is provided to help you assemble the appropriate evidence as you respond to the indicators in writing and prepare for your visiting team. Please contact Michelle Langer, SAIS Director of Accreditation, at [email protected] or (404) 633-6146 with any questions.
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STANDARD 1: VISION & PURPOSE The school establishes and communicates a shared purpose and direction for improving the performance of students and the effectiveness of the school.
• IMPACT: A school that commits to shared beliefs and mission establishes expectations for student learning that are aligned with the school’s vision. These expectations serve as benchmarks for assessing student performance and school effectiveness and are supported by school personnel and external stakeholders. The school’s mission guides allocations of human, time, material, and fiscal resources.
STANDARD 1 – INDICATORS: 1.1 Establishes in collaboration with its stakeholders a mission for the school that guides all
planning and decision-making.
The mission of the school is an essential written foundation on which all programs and organizational structures are based. It is the foundation upon which the school is built. It does not depend on a founder or donor; it has a life of its own in the vital activity of the school. It is written, sometimes memorized, always reviewed, and understood by all stakeholders. If there is a motto for the school, it derives from and supports the mission. It can be found at the beginning of the school’s charter or bylaws, in its handbooks and viewbooks, in its admissions materials, displayed on the walls of classrooms and offices, and in the minds and hearts of the entire school community.
1.2 Identifies goals to advance the mission of the school and ensures the mission is
congruent with principles of academic scholarship: permitting and encouraging freedom of inquiry, diversity of viewpoints, and independent, critical thinking.
The goals should be aligned with and reflective of the mission. Examples of such alignment can be found in the minutes of meetings about school policy and administrative/faculty decisions. Schools should ask themselves, “Will this goal help us carry out our mission?”
1.3 Ensures the beliefs and mission guide the instruction and curriculum throughout the
school and reflect research and best practices concerning teaching and learning.
Regular discussions about educational philosophy, developmental psychology, and organizational design should clearly reference the mission. Debate about new directions or new methods of teaching/learning should evidence consideration of the mission, in some cases, suggesting review of the mission itself. If the mission is sound, it will allow for wide ranging discussion on methods and means of achieving it.
1.4 Regularly reviews its mission and revises when appropriate.
Without regular review and reconsideration, a mission can become nothing more than a historical landmark in the school’s existence. Missions do not have to change regularly; many remain useful for decades. But missions do require maintenance and careful consideration if they are to influence the work of the school. The intervals and timing for such review are up to the school.
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1.5 Provides evidence that no form of bias or prejudice is allowed or practiced within the
mission scope of the school in order to promote an equitable, just, and inclusive community that inspires students to respect and value diversity.
Assuming that the mission is lawful and powerful for guiding the development of children, no SAIS member school should fear that its mission is too “out of the mainstream.” One of the grand foundations of non-public education in this nation, dating back to the Pierce v. Society of Sisters decision at the beginning of the last century, is the assurance that all schools have a right to exist as long as they obey established law and serve the general public interest in improving the citizen life of the nation. Within the meaning of this standard and indicator, SAIS member schools go the extra mile of assuring that, within the meaning of their mission, they allow no discrimination and, in fact, promote diverse communities and interactions with fairness and equity.
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STANDARD 2: GOVERNANCE & LEADERSHIP The school provides a governance, leadership, and organizational structure that promote student performance and school effectiveness.
• IMPACT: School leaders are advocates for the school’s vision and improvement efforts. Leaders provide direction and deploy resources to implement curricular and co-curricular programs that enable students to achieve expectations for their learning. Leaders encourage collaboration and shared responsibility for school improvement among stakeholders.
STANDARD 2 – INDICATORS: 2.1 Operates within the jurisdiction of a governing board or civil authority and, when
necessary, has a charter, license, or permit to operate within that jurisdiction.
Evidence should point toward the by laws or charter that clearly states the authority of a school-based, 501c3 credentialed board that makes ALL final decisions related to every aspect of school life and organization. Schools that function under the authority of another 501c3 authority, such as an ecclesiastical bishop or national organization, must show the location of evidence that such authority has been delegated to the school’s board.
2.2 Assures that the governing board provides for the continuity of mission.
A specific board minute on an annual review basis or a statement in the board handbook requiring such is clear evidence.
2.3 Complies with all applicable statutes and governmental regulations.
In real personal or organizational life this is a difficult expectation to guarantee. The spirit of this indicator expects visiting team members to be pointed toward documentation that assures compliance “to the best of the school’s knowledge.” It should be remembered that non- compliance with some laws and regulations (i.e., number of days in the school year, fire codes, zoning regulations) could put the school in legal and financial jeopardy.
2.4 Maintains access to legal counsel who can advise or obtain necessary information about
the legal requirements and obligations that exist in the state, federal, or other jurisdictions in which it operates.
The name(s), affiliations, and relationship documents should be indicated by location in the school records.
2.5 Assures that the governing board clearly defines roles and responsibilities for board
members and the head of school, and provides procedures for board and head orientation and evaluation.
A board handbook is the best evidence. 2.6 Assures that the governing board supports and models inclusive decision-making
Examples from the minutes are an excellent indicator.
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2.7 Establishes by its governing process policies to ensure no conflict of interest between
business, professional or parental roles and duties to the school.
Annual signed consent forms from each board member are the best indicator. 2.8 Has a governing board that hires one employee, the administrative head of school.
A statement in the board handbook and/or orientation materials provides good evidence. 2.9 Establishes policies and procedures that recognize and preserve the executive,
administrative, and leadership prerogatives of the head of the school.
Clear statements in the board policy manual, the bylaws, the board minutes, and/or the school handbook are evidence of the head’s authority.
2.10 Assures that the governing board does not interfere with the day-to-day operations of the
Clear statements in the board policy manual, the bylaws, the board minutes, and/or the school handbook can serve as evidence of compliance.
2.11 Assures that the governing board establishes comprehensive monitoring of overall
Board minutes, retreat agendas, or other meeting minutes can attest to this. 2.12 Assures that the administrative head of the school allocates and aligns the human,
instructional, financial, and physical resources in support of the vision, mission, and beliefs of the school. The school head shall have responsibility for the expenditure of all funds raised in the name of the school by booster clubs and other related organizations of students, parents, alumni, or supporters.
Examples in minutes of official administrative reports show compliance. 2.13 Assures that the governing board provides for stability in transitions of leadership.
Minutes or meeting notes related to discussion of orderly succession plans for board leadership and for headship are a valuable indication of attention to this important governance duty. Policy statements in board handbooks add clarity to such discussions.
2.14 Analyzes student performance and school effectiveness.
Attention to this subject in minutes or board retreats provides evidence 2.15 Assures that debt service or lines of credit are managed in such ways as to ensure that
fiscal responsibility remains under the control of the governing authority.
The location of financial records regarding debt and credit should be made clear to the visiting team.
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2.16 Assures that the school is not in, nor in prospect of moving into, financial reorganization
under the protection of bankruptcy.
Absence of litigation or court proceedings provides clear evidence. Further evidence might include the lack of any board level records of discussion of liquidation or bankruptcy, and the operation of the school without extensive debt and within a balanced budget for more than one year.
2.17 Assures that the governing board provides adequate risk management policies for the protection of the school.
A copy of the insurance policies (or directions to their location) provides good evidence. 2.18 Provides adequate documentation of insurance or equivalent resources to protect its
financial stability and administrative operations from protracted proceedings and claims for damage.
Written statements by pro bono or retained counsel AND a copy of the liability coverage policy in effect provides evidence.
2.19 Maintains a plan to fund a maintenance reserve.
The evidence of a reserve fund in place indicates that the school takes this need seriously. The amount in such a fund depends on the school’s financial capacity, its physical plant size and age, and the complexity of its program.
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STANDARD 3: TEACHING & LEARNING The school provides research based curriculum and instructional methods that facilitate achievement for all students.
• IMPACT: The school that implements a curriculum based on clear and measurable expectations for student learning provides opportunities for all students to acquire requisite knowledge, skills and attitudes. Teachers that use proven instructional practices actively engage students in the learning process, provide opportunities for students to apply knowledge and skills to real world situations, and give students feedback to improve performance.
STANDARD 3 – INDICATORS: 3.1 Develops and aligns the curriculum and instructional design with the school’s mission
and expectations for student performance across subject areas and grade levels.
The visiting team will be looking for evidence in conversations and written statements about the teaching and learning philosophy of the school. Remember that the emphasis here is on broad subject/grade levels, not within individual classes or courses. The mission language should show up often in minutes or official notes of division meetings and in the descriptions of how the school organizes its instructional program to accomplish its objectives.
3.2 Implements curriculum based on clearly defined expectations for student learning.
Expectations should be listed in handbooks or curriculum guides and should be the subject of minutes of faculty meetings.
3.3 Assures that the curriculum relies on sound learning principles and provides a balance
of educational experiences, including academic, fine arts, and physical education based on knowledge of human growth and development.
In-service programs and/or other faculty seminars can assure attention to these principles and experiences.
3.4 Assures that the curriculum promotes the active involvement of students in the learning
process, including opportunities to explore application of higher order thinking skills and to investigate new approaches in applying learning.
The school must provide examples (written and/or observable) of such activities. 3.5 Offers a curriculum that challenges each student to excel, reflects a commitment to
equity, and demonstrates an appreciation of diversity.
A current curriculum guide is the best indicator of evidence. 3.6 Promotes the use of relevant data and research in making curriculum, instructional, and
Minutes on this subject taken in faculty meetings assure continual compliance.
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3.7 Provides for articulation and alignment between and among all levels of schools.
All school divisions should have written statements that demonstrate the school’s attention to this subject.
3.8 Assures that there are written curriculum guides and support materials that serve as a
basis for implementing the curriculum.
Evidence of guides currently in use is adequate. 3.9 Instructional time is allocated and protected to support student learning.
Apart from requirements of state law, such time should be evident in the scheduling documents for the school.
3.10 Plans an academic calendar with a minimum of 175 days (or more if required by state
law) during which students and teachers engage in teaching/learning activities (Note: For half-day kindergarten programs, one-half day is equivalent to one full day in meeting the 175-day standard).
Evidence of compliance with state law is adequate, along with a copy of the school’s calendar. 3.11 Provides comprehensive information and media services that support the curricular and
instructional programs and the mission of the school.
The school’s library or media services guides should make clear the relationship of resources to mission.
3.12 Assures that, in schools without a central library, students have access to all resources
necessary to accomplish developmental learning goals.
Specific alternatives should be identified and described. 3.13 Assures that the school has a policy and procedure for responding to challenged
A written statement on this topic, adopted by the board, is appropriate evidence. 3.14 Assures that all students and staff members have regular and ready access to
instructional technology and a comprehensive materials collection that support the curricular and instructional program.
Physical evidence of such is adequate.
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STANDARD 4: DOCUMENTING & USING RESULTS The school enacts a comprehensive assessment system that monitors, documents, and uses results to improve student performance and school effectiveness.
• IMPACT: A comprehensive assessment system provides timely and accurate information that is used to assess student performance on expectations for student learning, evaluate the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction, and determine interventions to improve student performance. Performance measures generate information that guides decision-making and planning to improve student performance. The assessment system yields information that is meaningful and useful to school leaders, teachers, and other stakeholders in understanding student performance, school effectiveness, and the results of improvement efforts.
STANDARD 4 – INDICATORS: 4.1 Provides a comprehensive system for assessing student progress based on clearly
defined student results for learning.
A curriculum guide is the best evidence for this, although other policy handbooks may provide evidence as well.
4.2 Uses assessment data for making decisions for continuous improvement of teaching and
Examples of documented uses of data for student placement, teacher preparation, and curriculum adjustments are sources of evidence.
4.3 Conducts a systematic analysis of instructional and organizational effectiveness and
uses the results to improve student performance.
Annual or semester reviews in faculty groups by division are evidences of such use. 4.4. Maintains a secure, accurate, and complete student record system in accordance with
state and federal regulations.
This system and/ or related policies should be available for team members to view.
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STANDARD 5: RESOURCES & SUPPORT SYSTEMS The school has the resources and services necessary to support its mission and purpose and to ensure achievement for all students.
• IMPACT: The school that has sufficient human, material, and fiscal resources provides a curriculum that enables students to achieve expectations for student learning, meet special needs, and comply with applicable regulations. The school employs and deploys staff well-qualified for assignments and provides ongoing learning opportunities for all staff to improve effectiveness.
STANDARD 5 – INDICATORS: 5.1 Assures that administrative, instructional and support staff are qualified and competent
to perform the duties assigned to them in the school in order to meet the needs of the total school program and the students enrolled.
The focus here is on two characteristics of excellence at independent schools – competence of employees and meeting the needs of students. Clear position descriptions are the best evidence, coupled with specific qualifications of the individual regarding their suitability for the work assigned. Apart from certification and subject matter accumulation, heads or division leaders must be able to explain reasons for hiring. Written statements are best, added to portfolios, and available to team members.
5.2 Provides written policies covering recruitment, employment, assignment, evaluation, and
termination of service of all school personnel.
Employee handbooks are the best evidence. 5.3 Assures that there is an effective orientation program for faculty and staff new to the
Annual programs with agendas and minutes are the best evidence. 5.4 Assures that all staff participate in a continuous program of professional development.
The emphasis is on ALL STAFF, including but not limited to faculty, administrators, administrative, and custodial staff. While the specifics of the program are up to the school, there must be evidence that a formal method is in place.
5.5 Implements an evaluation system that provides for the professional growth of all
Minutes or written examples of fair use are the best evidence. 5.6 Provides counseling services that meet the needs of students.
However provided, these must show alignment with mission and needs of students.
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5.7 Assures that students whose needs cannot be met in school are referred to appropriate
agencies for assistance.
Written examples of recent actions are good evidence.
5.8 Establishes written procedures for termination of any student.
Consistency and compliance with state law are necessary. Written policies in student and parent handbooks are the best evidence.
5.9 Has a written crisis management plan.
A written plan that is understood and practiced by faculty/staff and that is annually reviewed is the best evidence.
5.10 Provides documentation of ongoing health and safety inspections that verifies an
environment that is safe, healthy, and orderly.
This can be satisfied with certificates of inspection from agencies that are charged with inspecting and certifying the campus on safety matters. Examples would be, but are not limited to, health inspections of the cafeteria, inspections of fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems, and elevator inspections.
5.11 Maintains the accounts of the school in accordance with generally accepted accounting
principles (GAAP), audited annually by an independent licensed accountant. The report of the annual audit is onsite and available to the accreditation visiting team.
Business manuals, procedure handbooks, a copy of the audit, and business manager knowledge provide evidence of this.
5.12 Budgets sufficient resources to support its educational programs and plans for
The financial reports of the school must be made available to the team on the campus. Written assurance of complete disclosure is evidence for this indicator.
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STANDARD 6: STAKEHOLDER COMMUNICATION & RELATIONSHIPS The school fosters effective communications and relationships with and among its stakeholders.
• IMPACT: The school that has effective communications and relationships enjoys the understanding, commitment, and support of stakeholders. School personnel seek opportunities for collaboration and shared leadership among stakeholders to help students achieve expectations for student learning and to advance improvement efforts.
STANDARD 6 – INDICATORS: 6.1 Fosters collaboration with community stakeholders to support student learning.
Evidence of head discussions and presentations with key civic groups and leaders is adequate. Records of meetings with board members add to the evidence.
6.2 Assures that communications among and between school staff, stakeholders, and
alumni are clear and effective.
Examples of related materials, newsletters, letters, e-mails and other communications are good evidence.
6.3 Uses the knowledge and skills of parents to enhance the work of the school.
Periodic parent meetings along with an organized volunteer program would be good indicators of compliance.
6.4 Assures that there is evidence of communication with appropriate agencies, such as
public health, mental health, physicians, and other professionals.
Examples of recent communications provide evidence. 6.5 Assures that the school’s advertising and promotional materials reflect accurate
information about the school’s programs and accomplishments.
Admissions materials and viewbooks should align with physical and testimonial evidence. 6.6 Assures that there is a well-defined, published admission process including criteria upon
which admission decisions are made, and that professional ethics are strictly observed in the admissions process.
Interviews (by team members) with parents and students should provide clear evidence, along with written assurances of such in materials.
6.7 Accepts students for whom there is a reasonable expectation of success from the
Evidence of compliance should demonstrate admissions decisions based on a student’s compatibility with the school’s mission, program, and academic guidelines. Non-academic based decisions should clearly reflect the school’s ability to serve the student.
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6.8 Bases financial aid and scholarships upon established and published criteria.
Such criteria should be available in writing. 6.9 Conducts follow-up studies of graduates and other former students, using the resulting
data to improve the school.
Retention and attrition studies of students, results of alumni surveys, and written summaries of interviews with parents provide evidence. Surveys of faculty/staff and students can also provide important data to help improve the school.
6.10 Emphasizes elements of citizenship and conduct that include honesty, integrity,
trustworthiness, responsibility, citizenship, self-discipline, and respect for others.
Evidence of these attributes in the mission, objectives, program, and curriculum are useful pieces of evidence. Surveys can also provide important evidence.
6.11 Assures that guidelines for student conduct, attendance, and dress are written and communicated to all students, parents, and members of the staff.
Written notices are key indicators of compliance. Where uniforms are required, the team should easily be able to compare the written dress code with the actual implementation of it by the student body.
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STANDARD 7: COMMITMENT TO CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT The school establishes, implements, and monitors a continuous process of improvement that focuses on student performance.
• IMPACT: The school that implements a collaborative and continuous improvement process based on clear expectations for student learning fosters the commitment and support of the stakeholders. New improvement efforts are informed by the results of earlier efforts and reflection on the engagement in the improvement process. Improvement efforts are sustained and the school demonstrates progress in improving student performance and school effectiveness.
STANDARD 7 – INDICATORS: 7.1 Assures that a strategic plan aligned with the vision, mission, and beliefs of the school is
developed and implemented to guide improvement efforts.
A current strategic plan must exist and be available for review. 7.2 Engages in a continuous process of improvement that is documented by a self study
every five years explaining four essential actions: Describe the current school environment, student profile, performance indices, and organizational effectiveness (Profile); Explain the vision and purpose the school wants to pursue (Vision); Indicate how the school plans to move from where it is to where it wants to go (Plan); Explain how the school will show the results of its plan and its effect on future improvement (Results).
This is the self-study developed for the visiting team. 7.3 Evaluates the effectiveness and impact of its continuous process of improvement, and
takes action to correct any identified areas of noncompliance with standards, addressing recommendations for improvement.
Regular reviews and reports (as required by SAIS) provide evidence.