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Manual for School Evaluation

The Manual for School Evaluation is the tool for Self-Study preparation.

View the Manual by section below, or:

Introduction

Founded in 1885, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) is the nation’s oldest accrediting agency.  NEASC accreditation is designed to give specific attention to each of the dual purposes of accreditation: quality assurance and school improvement. 

The Commission established fifteen Standards of quality assurance that all schools must meet.  Initial Accreditation of schools will be tabled until compliance is documented; member schools will be given one year to bring themselves into compliance with any Standard that is not met at the time of the visit.

Self-Study Part I:  Reviewing the Standards asks the school to assess itself with regard to each Standard and rate its level of compliance.  The Visiting Committee will independently assess the school’s compliance and report on any difference in rating.

The Commission determined that the school should be asked to take the lead in setting goals for improvement and future directions; the Visiting Committee will add its perspective and recommendations with knowledge of the school’s own plans.

Self-Study Part II:  Reflection, Recommendations, and Issues for Future Discussion asks the school to reflect on the findings of Part I, make recommendations for itself that are action oriented, and identify issues for further discussion that will extend important conversations generated by the Self-Study.

The Phases of Accreditation

 

 

Phase I:  Self-Study

 

Preparation for the Self-Study

Self-Study Part I:  Reviewing the Standards

DATE

 

 

PURPOSE

Prior to beginning the Self-Study, the school must gather background information that will inform the discussion of the Self-Study Committees.

Part I of the Self-Study is focused on documenting the school’s adherence to the Standards and to formulating recommendations for improvement.

TASKS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED

The School will:

  • Review the mission statement.
  • Confirm that there is a current written description of the curriculum.

Program Committees will:

  • Review all major program areas with regard to the Program Standards (4, 5, and 6).
  • Write a brief report on each program area. (See Page 23)

The Self-Study Coordinator will:

  • Arrange to survey constituents.
  • Compile statistics.
  • Assemble documents.
  • Request financial information.
  • Arrange for financial review.

 

Each Standards Review Committee will:

  • Review relevant background information (survey data, statistics, documents, and existing plans).
  • Review reports from program committees.
  • Review and comment on possible indicators and alternatives.
  • Identify issues for further inquiry.
  • Conduct research through focus groups, interviews, and observation.
  • Rate the degree of compliance with the Standard.
  • Draft a report documenting compliance with the Standard – or outlining specific steps and timeline to bring the school into compliance – and making recommendations related to the Standard that would enhance the students’ experience and foster school improvement.

PROCESS STEPS

Appoint the Self-Study Coordinator(s) and Steering Committee.

Select dates for visit.

Establish calendar for the Self-Study.

Coordinator attends Self-Study Workshop.

Schedule NEASC staff presentation.

Appoint committees for each major program area.

Appoint committees for each Standard.

Present a draft of Part I of the Self-Study to the full faculty for discussion and comment and make final revisions.

Assemble and upload to the portal all supplementary materials, including major program area reports and Indicator Checklists. (See Required Self-Study Documents and Materials in the Manual for School Evaluation for more details.)

 

             Phase I (continued)                                                      

Phases II and III

 

Self-Study Part II:  Reflection, Recommendations, and Issues for Further Discussion

Visit and Follow-up

DATE

 

 

PURPOSE

Part II of the Self-Study is devoted to reflection on the findings of the Self-Study Committees and to drawing together and prioritizing ideas for school improvement.

The charge to the Visiting Committee is to validate the Self-Study, make recommendations, and advise the Commission regarding accreditation.

The school establishes follow-up process.

TASKS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED

A representative Committee will:

  • Review all sections of Part I of the Self-Study and compile all recommendations from the Committees.
  • Identify other (overarching) issues.
  • Prioritize goals.

Draft a one to three page report that draws together these ideas into a thoughtful, reflective, creative summary of the school’s most significant concerns, hopes, and dreams for the future.  The report may include both action-oriented recommendations and issues for discussion.  The report should distinguish immediate from long-range goals and comment on the implications for enhancing the students’ experience.

The Visiting Committee will:

  • Review the full Self-Study Report (Parts I and II).
  • Validate the Self-Study by interviewing people, observing the program, reviewing the supplementary materials.
  • Review the ratings for each of the Standards and assess the experience of students in that area.

Draft a report that confirms that Standards are met or describes plans that are in place (or make recommendations) to address them.  Make recommendations to the school and the Commission regarding the Standards and Self-Study Report: Part II.

PROCESS STEPS

Form a Committee representative of all the Committees from Part I.

Prepare draft of Part II:  Reflection, Recommendations, and Issues for Further Discussion, discuss the draft with the full faculty, and make final revisions.

When the Self-Study Report is final in the portal, click MARK REPORT COMPLETE and save as a PDF for distribution to the school community. The Visiting Committee and the Commission will view the report in the portal. Printed copies are not necessary.

Prepare to host the Visiting Committee.

 The Visiting Committee submits its report to the Commission, with its ratings of the school on the individual Standards, and makes a recommendation on the accreditation status of the school.

Immediately following the visit, the school should establish a follow-up procedure to track the process and progress of implementing recommendations from the Self-Study, the Visiting Committee, and the Commission.

The Two-Year and Five-Year Interim Evaluation Reports are the normal times for the school to report to the Commission on its follow-up to the Self-Study and visit.  The Two-Year Report will include a Multi-Year Plan.

 

 

 

The Standards for Accreditation and Indicators

Download complete Standards (pdf) or view online.

Indicator Checklists

INDICATOR CHECKLISTS

These checklists are to be used in the Self-Study process.

All Self-Study Committees will complete the relevant Indicator Checklist as part of their discussion on how to document compliance of the school with a given Standard.  These completed checklists will be included in the supplementary materials for review by the Visiting Committee.

NOTE:   Schools must complete the Indicator Checklists, but are NOT required to comply with all indicators.  The Commission feels that they represent good practices and encourages schools to meet them.  However, schools are welcome to submit other data and narrative information to document their compliance with the Standards for Accreditation.

Indicator Checklists (word)

Sample Questionnaires

SAMPLE QUESTIONNAIRES

In the preparatory phase of the Self-Study, all schools are to survey parents, faculty, and students on issues covered by the Standards.  Secondary grades should also survey alumni/ae. 

The results of these surveys should be compiled and given to the Self-Study committees as background information to inform their discussions.

The attached questionnaires are samples which can be customized to each school.  Schools may use these as is, add questions to those that are suggested, or design their own form.  The suggested questions relate to Standards and are sufficiently similar to allow comparisons of responses across constituencies.  Online survey forms such as SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com) may be used.

The completed questionnaires, together with the compilation of results, should be included in the supplementary materials for review by the Visiting Committee.

Parent Questionnaire (doc)

Faculty Questionnaire (doc)

Student Questionnaire (doc)

Alumni/ae Questionnaire (doc)

Sample Second Page for all Questionnaires (doc)

Multi-year Planning

Multi-Year Planning

When a school seeks accreditation with NEASC it is committing itself to engage in an ongoing process of self-assessment, goal setting, and planning.  The Self-Study, culminating in Part II:  Reflections, Recommendations, and Issues for Further Discussion, is designed to be an example of this approach to school improvement.

Schools may choose not to create formal “plans,” but they need to approach planning in an organized manner.  All planning should be based on the mission of the school, together with any purposes, objectives, and goals specific to various components of the school’s programs.

At the time of the Two-Year Interim Evaluation Report, the Commission will ask schools to present evidence of Multi-Year Planning that incorporates all of the major recommendations from the Self-Study and Visiting Committee Reports that have not yet been accomplished. 

Some areas for regular planning pursued by many schools include:

1.   Enrollment

The school should maintain (and update) enrollment projections for at least the next
five years; components of this projection should include: grade level, gender, and where appropriate, separate numbers for students who will qualify for financial aid, children of employees who may receive tuition remission, and students who may be involved in special programs.  All enrollment data should be aligned with projected tuition and fee levels over time in order to show projected net income from this area.  Desired levels of financial aid should be included in this plan.

If enrollments are expected to change, either by increasing or declining, the school should be able to adjust staffing, facilities, curriculum and other program components; these changes, driven by enrollment fluctuations, should inform other planning.

2.   Curriculum

Based on the mission, grade levels, and enrollment of the school, what should the curriculum contain?  In order to have students learn what is expected of them, what courses, staffing, facilities, time, technology, and materials are required to meet the needs of all learners? 

3.   Academic Technology

Teachers and the academic leadership should plan the appropriate integration of technology into the various components of the program; determine the necessary skill levels of students and teachers to reach the desired utilization; and project the hardware, software, infrastructure, maintenance, and management aspects of technology.  All the goals and information derived from the academic technology planning should be incorporated in overall technology planning.

4.   Library

Depending on the type and scope of the school’s library or media center, it is important to articulate the purposes, objectives, and goals of this resource and plan for the needs for staff, facilities, related technology, print materials and periodicals, and curriculum. 

5.   Diversity

The school’s efforts to support difference and multiculturalism might be facilitated by identifying the specific needs of various students and planning how best to provide: special or augmented programs for certain students or groups; the education of students about issues of equity and justice; the professional development of faculty, including various relevant topics in the general curriculum; and awareness by all constituencies of the complexities of how differing cultural and learning backgrounds affect the school’s environment and its ability to meet its mission.

6.   Institutional Technology

Given the scale of expense and the pace of change in the area of technology, a school may want to develop a more formal plan for institutional technology that provides for the appropriate services and systems to integrate technology into the curriculum and also supports the coordination of academic, administrative, and institutional functions.  At the very least, the school should recognize the need for ongoing planning to address the future development or changes to all network and infrastructure components.

7.   Facilities

Given the mission and corresponding program at the school, do the facilities meet the needs of that program?  Facilities planning might involve an audit of the current facilities including their history, use, age, condition, and future needs in term of expansion, renovation, or maintenance.  Any additional or new facilities might be planned using this background information.

8.   Financial

All of the planning described herein will have financial ramifications and this information must be integrated into a financial plan.  Financial plans and projected cash flows should be updated periodically so as to avoid surprises when unforeseen enrollment shifts take place.  The financial plan also helps determine what the short- and long-term development needs are so that planning can be accomplished in that area as well. 

9.   Development

As the general needs of the school, especially in financial terms, are developed through careful consideration of program needs and fulfilling the mission of the school, development or fund-raising considerations come into play.  Planning is essential to successfully raising funds. 

Required Self-Study Documents and Materials

REQUIRED SELF-STUDY DOCUMENTS AND MATERIALS

Self-Study Report and Documents

Your Self-Study Report, including the Review of Major Programs (uploaded in Standard 4) should be completed in the portal at least one month before the visit. Please click the MARK REPORT COMPLETE button when it is finalized in the portal. The Visiting Committee will access your report via the portal.

Regulatory Compliance Documentation

The Chair of the Visiting Committee for the evaluated school is required to attest to the existence of the following documentation which may be uploaded in the portal under “Legal/Regulatory Documentation and/or made available for the Chair’s pre-visit to the school:

  1. Corporate status as a tax-exempt institution, if applicable
  2. Non-discriminatory admissions and employment policies
  3. Information regarding the financial responsibilities of parents and students
  4. Fire Marshal’s inspection certificate or letter stating at time of the last inspection, all requirements were met
  5. Health inspection certificates for food services
  6. Statement from the Head of School that the school’s Emergency Plan is complete and has been submitted to the local police department
  7. Documentation attesting that those sections of the Early Childhood Program that serve children under the age of three meet health and safety regulations/guidelines as required in your state

 

Vermont Schools Only

Additional Regulatory Compliance Documentation for Vermont Schools:

  • The school’s harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies and procedures
  • The school’s Discipline Plan
  • The school’s Rule 4500-compliant policy for the use of restraint and seclusion
  • The school’s user’s agreement with the Vermont Crime Information Center and any
  • related criminal records requests.
  • The school’s Concussion Action Plan
  • The school’s Immunization Plan
  • The school’s Emergency Preparedness Plan
  • (For Independent Residential Schools only) A copy of the school’s annual fire safety
                     inspection by the Department of Public Safety or its designee

The Vermont Statutes and State Board Rules may be found at:

 http://education.vermont.gov/state-board-councils/state-board/rules

 

Supplementary Materials

  1. The Head of School’s welcome letter to Visiting Committee Members. This should be emailed to the Chair, Visiting Committee Members, and the CIS office at cis@neasc.org.
  2. Directions to your school and the hotel (attach in Portal under Additional Uploaded Files)
  3. Alphabetical Staff Overview (attach in Portal under Additional Uploaded Files)
  4. Daily program schedule including teacher assignments to tentatively schedule classroom visits and interviews (attach in Portal under Additional Uploaded Files)

Hard Copy Materials

Hard copies of the following materials should be mailed only to the Chair of the Visiting Committee (one copy) and the Director of the Commission (two copies):

  1. The current operating budget and most recent year-to-date report
  2. The operating statement for the most recently completed year: compare budgeted figures and actual experience
  3. A review or opinion level audit or approved alternative, e.g., Diocesan Report on School Finances
  4. A Salary table for full-time teaching faculty, high and low
  5. List of benefits
  6. Optional: Head of School’s confidential letter with any financial or sensitive information should only be sent to the Chair and the CIS office at cis@neasc.org.

The following materials may be uploaded in the portal within the relevant Standard and/or copies may be available in the Visiting Committee’s workroom where appropriate:

  1. Indicator Checklists for all Standards
  2. Parent, faculty, student, and alumni/ae questionnaires, as applicable, together with compilation and summary of findings
  3. Forms used in the evaluation of professional staff
  4. A description of the curriculum in a form appropriate to the school
  5. Written bylaws describing the school’s governance structure
  6. Admissions and recruiting materials, including brochures and catalogs
  7. Information regarding financial responsibilities which is given to parents prior to enrollment, including any enrollment contracts
  8. All current planning documents (see Multi-Year Planning)
  9. Student, faculty, and parent handbooks
  10. Calendar for the school year
  11. Sample copies of publications
  12. Sample copies of forms used to collect or record information about students
  13. Sample copies of forms used to collect data from former students
  14. Profile of student body as shown by aptitude and/or achievement testing  (Provide samples of tests)

Visiting Committee Process

The Visiting Committee Process

Selection of Chair and Pre-Visit Outline:  The Commission staff will consult with the Head of School in identifying the Chair of the Visiting Committee and determining the size of the Committee and any special areas of focus.  Once the Chair of the Visiting Committee has been confirmed, the Head of School should invite the Chair to the school for a meeting to go over arrangements and the schedule for the full visit.  The Chair will identify meetings which should be scheduled during the full visit and those people who should be available.

Additionally, the Chair will take this opportunity to check in with the Self-Study Coordinators to get a sense of the school’s progress on the Self-Study.  At this time, inquiry about any stumbling blocks is appropriate.  It is particularly important that the Chair confirm at the time of the pre-visit that major regulatory documents are in place, and that there will be a certified financial audit available during the full visit.  Taking initiative now will help the process to unfold successfully.

Appointment of the Visiting Committee:  The selection of the Visiting Committee is the responsibility of the Commission staff.

Scheduling the Visit:  Visiting Committees are scheduled to arrive on a Sunday afternoon and depart on the following Wednesday afternoon.  The school, in consultation with the Commission staff, should select the dates for the visit well ahead of time to facilitate planning.  Fall visits are scheduled from the last week in September to the first week in November, and spring visits from the last week in March through the end of April.

Accommodations:  The school is responsible for arranging housing for all Committee Members for three nights.  Accommodations should be in a local hotel or motel and provide a private room and bath for each member.  In addition, the school should arrange for a meeting room for the Committee at the hotel.

Meals:  The school is responsible for meals.  Details of the schedule should be worked out with the Visiting Committee Chair, but, ordinarily, the Committee will have lunches provided in their workroom at the school.  If breakfast is not available at the hotel, it may also be provided at school.  Most committees prefer to have working dinners on Monday and Tuesday, either at the hotel or a local restaurant.  On Sunday the school customarily holds a reception for faculty and other members of the school community and hosts a dinner for the Committee and a few select members of the school community.  The Committee has a great deal of work to accomplish in a short time and, therefore, social events and entertainment should be kept to a minimum and scheduled only in consultation with the Chair.  The school is expected to make the Committee comfortable but should avoid extravagant expense. 

Arrangements at the School:  The Visiting Committee must have a private meeting room at the school which is for their use only during the visit.  Refreshments should be provided during the days of the visit.  The Visiting Committee Chair will discuss needed arrangements for access to computers.

What to Expect from the Visiting Committee:  The Committee will access and review the Self-Study from the portal prior to their arrival.  Their charge is to understand the school on its own terms, assess the accuracy of the Self-Study Report, determine compliance with the Standards for Accreditation, review Part II:  Reflection, Recommendations, and Issues for Further Discussion, write a report that includes commendations and recommendations, and make a recommendation to the Commission regarding accreditation. 

The school should expect Visiting Committee Members to be at the school all day on Monday and Tuesday and some members may be at the school on Wednesday morning.  While the presence of the visitors will obviously not go unnoticed, the school is asked to maintain as normal a routine as possible.  Committee Members will interview faculty, administration, parents, students, and Board Members.  They will try to talk individually with all faculty and staff.  A Committee Member responsible for reviewing a particular section of the Self-Study Report may seek out those who participated in drafting that section. 

Members of the Committee will visit classes in order to gain a flavor of the academic program.  Teachers should not schedule tests, field trips, or films during these three days.  The visitors will be observing interactions among students and between students and faculty.  They will note teaching methods and instructional materials.  Faculty should expect visitors to come for parts of classes.  The Visiting Committee is looking at the entire program; they will not evaluate individual faculty, staff, or administrators and will not comment on the performance of any individual, or identify them by name in the Visiting Committee Report.

The Committee departs on Wednesday after they have completed a draft of their report.  The Committee is instructed not to share specifics of their report, however, since it has not been finalized.  The Chair and another member of the Committee will meet with the Head of School and one or two people on Wednesday afternoon to review major areas of comment in the report.  Committee Chairs are encouraged not to hold a meeting with the entire faculty, but rather to finalize the Committee’s report and submit it to the school at the earliest possible time so that everyone may read the whole and, therefore, view any recommendations in context. Factual errors are to be corrected before the final report is submitted to the Commission. Upon receipt of the final report, the Head of School is invited to write a reaction to the Visiting Committee Report.

                                                                            Commission Action

The Commission will review the school’s Self-Study, the Visiting Committee Report, the Visiting Committee’s recommendation concerning accreditation and votes on Standards for Accreditation, and the school’s reaction letter (if applicable) at its next meeting after all these items are received.  Commission meetings are usually held in February, June, and November.

If a school recommended for initial membership does not meet all the Standards, action on their accreditation will be tabled until compliance has been documented.  If a school approved for continued membership does not meet all the Standards, the school will be given one year to bring itself into compliance.  At a given date, the school will be expected to report on what action has been taken in response to the school’s own recommendations and those of the Visiting Committee and the Commission.  The Commission may ask the staff to follow-up with the school on particular concerns or may schedule a formal Focused Visit to inquire into progress the school has made.

In addition to any Special Progress Reports or visits, all schools are required to file an Interim Evaluation Report after two and five years, which documents accomplishments in the follow-up process.