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Process

Independent School Accreditation

Accreditation is not a single event, but rather an ongoing, voluntary cycle of comprehensive internal and external assessments, short- and long-term strategic planning, and periodic reporting sustained by professional partnership and support. Member schools must, according to the appropriate Commission protocol, periodically demonstrate continued alignment with NEASC Standards in order to maintain their NEASC Accreditation/Membership.

A school interested in accreditation begins by applying for candidacy and must demonstrate that it has the basic structures, policies, and systems in place to support a quality learning environment. Once a school has been recognized as a NEASC Candidate for Accreditation, the cycle commences. 

The Cycle of Accreditation

Candidacy
The accreditation process usually begins with an inquiry from a school and a visit to the inquiring school by a Commission on Independent Schools director. The purpose of the visit is to assess the school's readiness to pursue NEASC accreditation. Following the visit, if it seems in the school’s best interest, the school submits an Application for Candidate for Accreditation. Upon NEASC review of the application, the Commission schedules a one-day candidacy visit with a three-person committee of educators from peer schools. If the visiting committee concludes its visit with a satisfactory assessment of the school, the directors will recommend the Commission vote in favor of its candidacy.  

Self-Study
Having achieved candidacy status, a school has five years to gain full accreditation. When a school is ready to begin its self-study process, it should contact the Commission office. The Commission will provide resources and training. Administrators, faculty, and staff can prepare for the self-study process by attending NEASC Self-Study Workshops. Schools should begin the process18 months to two years before submitting the self-study report to the Commission. Schools are advised, therefore, not to start this process later than the third year of candidacy.

Visiting Team
A school’s onsite evaluation by a NEASC visiting team is scheduled about a year in advance. The Commission sets a date for the visiting team’s evaluation of the Foundation Standards and a semester or season later for the Program Standards. After the visits and the evaluation, the visiting team prepares a report for the school that will assess attainment of the individual standards, formulate major recommendations and standard-specific recommendations for school improvement, and submits a separate recommendation to the Commission on the school’s accreditation status.

Follow-up Actions
At the time of the visit, schools that do not meet one or more standards must document, within one year, how they have addressed the unmet standard.

  • All schools must file a Two-Year Interim Evaluation Report, addressing the major recommendations in the self-study and the visiting committee report, in addition to providing information on enrollment trends, finances, and the school’s multi-year or strategic planning.
  • All schools must file a Five-Year Interim Evaluation Report, addressing enrollment trends, improvements in the students’ learning and experience, the role of the school’s governing body, strategic planning, and finances.
  • The Commission may request a Special Progress Report on any subject and timetable.
  • The Commission may schedule a Focused Visit to a school following a Special Progress Report.