ACSI — Vol 17.3
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Accreditation/Certification
Merry L. Clark


The REACH: Accreditation Manual for EE–12 was developed for schools in the United States and globally that implement an English language instructional program that prepares students for direct transition to English language tertiary programs such as those in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere. The standards in the document are comprehensive declarations of quality procedures and practices that should exist in schools and early education programs that are striving to achieve superior performance and strong effectiveness based on educational research and quality practices from a distinctively Christian perspective.

Accreditation by a well-recognized agency is a seal of quality on an educational organization. The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) promotes the value and worthiness of accreditation and encourages each school and early education program to continuously pursue excellence. We believe that this pursuit matches the biblical directive of approving “things that are excellent” (Philippians 1:10, KJV). The “accredited” seal denotes a school or program that has met institutional standards of quality and that verifies a commitment to strategic improvement and ongoing accountability. The process of accreditation involves three significant elements:

1. Intensive, institution-wide self-appraisal, analysis, and improvement planning
2. External consultation, review, validation, and insights from a visiting peer group
3. Ongoing accountability for improvement through annual reporting and renewal

ACSI’s internationally recognized accreditation program is designed to assist schools in obtaining widely recognized accredited status. Some of the benefits of being an ACSI accredited educational institution include the following:

• Accredited membership status in ACSI and a listing as such in the online directory
• Approval by the U.S. Department of Education for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), I-20 and I-17 forms
• Various U.S. state and several national recognitions for credits and athletics
• Early education accreditation process approved in various states
• Eligibility for joint accreditation status with the following:

– AdvancEd Accreditation (The North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement [NCA CASI], Northwest Accreditation Commission [NWAC], and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement [SACS CASI])
– New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
– Middle States Association (MSA, Elementary and/or Secondary)
– Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

ACSI accreditation is a highly effective way for a Christian school to evaluate itself in light of its unique educational mission. An authentic Christian school may be thought of as involving the four interwoven educational strands of (1) academic ideas and thinking; (2) skills for life and living; (3) biblical worldview grounding; and (4) personal character, values, and spiritual formation. The self study process guides a school to evaluate and reflect on all that it does in light of this distinctive four-pronged mission.

The ACSI process is thought provoking in its approach, stimulating in its methods, and efficient in its procedures. Its core goal is to provoke a reflective and interactive dialogue among the stakeholders of a school. The school will be positioned to refine its strategic plan for student learning and organizational effectiveness, on the basis of its reflection on each of the standards and the insights of the visiting team.

Accreditation requires a strong, pervasive, and continuous commitment. Typically, accreditation commitments stretch the organization and infuse change into it. In order to become or continue to be accredited by ACSI, a school must meet foundational requirements and be committed to ongoing improvement.

Accreditation is a voluntary process. A school that commits to striving for excellence through accreditation is agreeing to a process of ongoing review to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the organization and the quality of instruction for the population it serves. A school will need to demonstrate that it has institutionalized a culture of continuous improvement for student attainment of educational standards and its schoolwide expected student outcomes.
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