Answers to commonly asked questions about Independent School Accreditation
How long does it take to become accredited through CIS?
Once a school has been granted recognition as a Candidate for Accreditation and has completed necessary preliminary work such as articulating its mission, curriculum, and various policies, the accreditation process takes 12 to 18 months. The school involves the entire community in a structured self-study, usually taking a full academic year, that examines every aspect of school life, assesses compliance with the NEASC Standards, and sets goals for school improvement. The school submits its self-study to the Commission on Independent Schools and hosts a visiting committee of educators from other member schools appointed by NEASC. This committee, usually numbering from 6 to 12 teachers and administrators, validates the self-study, independently assesses the school’s compliance with the Standards, and writes a report to the school and the Commission with commendations and recommendations. The Commission reviews the self-study and the report of the visiting committee in determining the school’s accreditation status. Schools must meet all Standards to be granted accreditation.
Do the New England states recognize NEASC Accreditation?
Yes. All of the New England states recognize NEASC Accreditation of independent schools as part of their school approval process.
How can I get information about a school’s accreditation status and/or copies of its accreditation reports?
A school’s accreditation status is listed in the CIS Directory of Schools, along with the year the school was first accredited and the year of the last full accreditation review. Schools are in good standing, unless there is a notation that they are on Probation. Accreditation reports and correspondence are the property of the school and are released by the school at its discretion.
Does NEASC accredit Early Childhood Programs?
No, NEASC does not accredit programs serving students below the age of three. Although NEASC is accrediting a wider range of schools than during its early years, the focus of the NEASC accreditation process is on the experience of students in preschool and older.
Some independent schools - accredited through the NEASC Commission on Independent Schools - which serve infants and/or toddlers have received joint accreditation with the American Montessori Society (AMS), have sought additional accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), or are licensed by the State. All of these options provide quality assurances for early childhood programs. We recognize that the governance and infrastructure of a school support all students regardless of age, and the school culture and climate facilitate the growth of all students regardless of age. We also acknowledge that there are programmatic and health and safety considerations which are best overseen by either AMS, NAEYC, and/or State Early Childhood Departments. The NEASC Commission on Independent Schools requires schools which serve children below the age of three to demonstrate compliance with state standards and state mandates for early childhood programs, and encourages these schools to additionally work with an agency which specifically focuses on early childhood programs.
How can I file a complaint against a NEASC member school?
The Commission on Independent Schools has a Policy on Complaints. Briefly, the Commission cannot intervene on behalf of individuals, but will inquire into allegations that a school is not in compliance with one or more of the Standards for Accreditation. Written complaints should be submitted to the Director of the Commission. For more information, including mailing address and fax number, please see the Complaint Policy page.
Does NEASC collaborate with any other accrediting agencies?
Yes. NEASC works collaboratively with the American Montessori Society (AMS) (AMS), the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), and the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). Schools sometimes seek joint accreditation with NEASC and these agencies. NEASC works with these agencies to provide an accreditation process which supports the goals of both organizations and the schools. Visiting teams for joint accreditation represent both associations and all reports are shared with both organizations.
Within New England, NEASC shares its accreditation protocol with the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE). Both these agencies accredit some elementary schools in their regions and are aligned philosophically with NEASC regarding the purposes of accreditation.
Throughout the country, there are state and regional associations that are allied with NEASC through the NAIS Commission on Accreditation. The Commission on Independent School directors meet regularly with the other association directors to consider trends in education which impact the accreditation process and to develop best practices in accreditation. This collegial network of professionals supports the work of all the agencies promoting independent school accountability and improvement through accrediation.
Does the NEASC Commission on Independent Schools work with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)?
The Commission on Independent Schools is a member of the NAIS Commission on Accreditation, composed of 19 state, regional, and international associations that accredit independent schools. The NAIS Commission establishes Criteria for Effective Accreditation Practices to which members must adhere. NEASC/CIS completed a review by the NAIS Commission in 2014 that included a self-study, a review by outside evaluators who observed school visits, office procedures, and a Commission meeting; and follow-up reports on the response to recommendations. As a result, the accreditation program of the NEASC Commission on Independent Schools is recognized by the NAIS Board.