Christian School Accreditation
WHAT IS ACCREDITATION?
Accreditation is a voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by American universities and secondary schools, and designed primarily to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards. The accreditation process is also known in terms of its ability to effectively drive student performance and continuous improvement in education.
While accreditation is a set of rigorous protocols and research-based processes for evaluating a school’s organizational effectiveness, it is far more than that. Today accreditation examines the whole school - the programs, the cultural context, and the community of stakeholders - to determine how well the parts work together to meet the needs of students.
For many, accreditation is both a significant achievement pronouncing a school’s quality of education, as well as a remarkably enriching process for the schools recognizing the tremendous competitive and performance gains it affords. The process enables schools to see the untapped transformative power in the process of accreditation that enables them to build true capacity to improve student learning and make continuous school improvement a distinctive reality.
It is the process of accreditation that yields the greatest continuing return for schools. When approached properly, the internal self-assessment a school conducts against a set of research-based quality standards can produce a wealth of galvanizing insights. Honest self-evaluation is unparalleled in its ability to uncover and bring into sharp focus special challenges for a school that may not have been fully understood. The external review is the hallmark of the accreditation process, and like the internal self-assessment, it energizes and equips the leadership and stakeholders of a school to tackle those areas that may be thwarting desired performance levels.
Accreditation is inextricably linked to school improvement. The accreditation process asks schools to critically evaluate their vision, strategies, priorities, leadership, and programs and resources. The process of earning and maintaining accreditation provides schools with clear and compelling direction for implementing changes to move toward excellence.
The staff and School Board of Triad Baptist Christian Academy are working diligently on earning accreditation with the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). The accreditation program of ACSI is designed to assist member schools in achieving a standard of excellence and to encourage them in a continuous process of assessment and ongoing development. To desire excellence is to take seriously our commitment to Christ, whose name is excellent (Psalm 8:1). The process of achieving and maintaining accredited status is a means of proclaiming our commitment to doing things well.
The major benefit to a school that goes through the accreditation process is the documentation of an intensive appraisal of each component of its ministry. The subsequent benefit is the status of being an accredited school. “Accreditation is a process of recognizing educational institutions for their standards, performance, integrity and quality” (Lowrie, 1984).
The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) Office of Academic Affairs is responsible for the accreditation program. Academic Affairs' mission is to provide programs, materials, and services that will enhance Christian schools’ spiritual and academic effectiveness. Accreditation enables Christian schools to maintain and improve the quality of their educational programs and to expand their understanding of the philosophy of Christian education.
Two major themes are obvious throughout the ACSI accreditation program. First, the program probes the spiritual aspects of each component of the organization. Second, the program addresses the educational quality and integrity of the school. The latter addresses the issues that demonstrate that the school is true to its own statements of philosophy, mission and goals and that it is meeting the standards of quality that are recognized by ACSI.
Meeting the accreditation standards and completing the self-study is a rigorous but very worthwhile process. It requires the intensive work of the school staff for at least one full year. In responding to the questions in the ACSI Manual of School Accreditation-Evaluative Criteria, the school explains its approaches and assesses its strengths and weaknesses. It also suggests plans for improvement in each of the component areas of the self-study. Supplementary documentation is required to support the answers and conclusions of the self-study.
-Dennis Roberts, Executive Administrator