Schools regularly go through cycles of accreditation and reflection on the work they do with students. These processes involve third-party agencies with expertise in education and organizational management. Most international schools choose an affiliation with a US-based accreditation agency. There are several such agencies, and the largest and oldest have many schools and universities in their portfolios. One reason to prioritize accreditation is very practical: universities in the United States look for accreditation membership for secondary schools from which they accept students. In other words, having an accrediting body’s “seal of approval” smooths the application and entry process for international school students to US universities.
A second reason to pursue accreditation is an inherent belief in the process used by the school and the agency to frame a period of reflection on goals, structures, and processes involved in the management of the school and the learning of students. ASH has partnered with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) for our next accreditation cycle. NEASC is the same organization that accredits many of the most prestigious and oldest universities in the US. Through its Commission on International Education, NEASC has established a process for reflection and peer-review in K-12 schools that emphasizes learning for the whole community, students and adults alike. Through this process, we will begin to set goals in alignment with the mission, vision, and strategies we are concurrently shaping this year.
How does accreditation match with the new realities of future-readiness we have been exploring in this blog? With the latest reflection model from NEASC, it fits very well. The model, called ACE Learning, pushes schools to reflect on their work in the areas of A: Learning Architecture, C: Learning Culture, and E: Learning Ecology. Within these principles, we are called to consider how we are working with students and employees in alignment with five broad areas, as illustrated in the image attached to this entry: self-direction, courage, network-building, design thinking processes, and reflection (my paraphrasing). The accreditation process requires us to take stock of where we are now, chart where we want to go to align with these principles, and create and implement plans to achieve those goals. NEASC will partner with us and hold us accountable to these goals and plans. This is all in addition to our regular accreditation process of accountability for holding up standards of safety, child protection, sound financial management, a rigorous and cohesive curriculum, etc. The convergence of the tried and true and the innovative has come to accreditation as well.
Two representatives from NEASC are on campus at ASH this week, as previously advertised. Please take advantage of the opportunity to meet them and hear how NEASC and ASH will work together on this latest round of accreditation, and how parents can be involved. They will be talking with parents on Thursday from 3:00 - 4:00 PM in MS 2.36-2.37.
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