Accreditation Services > Overview
ISACS offers a comprehensive approach to accreditation based on a seven-year cycle and three, overall principles:
- Compliance with the ISACS standards for membership;
- Full and complete disclosure of a school’s mission, philosophy, program, qualifications of its professional staff, procedures, and services, and congruence between the school’s stated mission and its actual program and services; and
- Completion of the ISACS school improvement process, including self-study and external review of strengths, challenges and plans and priorities in all areas of the school.
These principles characterize all our accredited schools and still allow for great diversity in mission, philosophy, program, and style.
While accreditation (or some other form of approval, recognition, or licensing) can be obtained from several other organizations, including state and the five regional accrediting bodies for colleges and schools, independent schools often find the following specific advantages in the ISACS accreditation program:
- The process involves a peer review, conducted by those who understand and appreciate independent school qualities and contributions to American education, including faculty as well as administrators;
- The standards and procedures have been developed for independent, not public schools;
- Wherever possible, standards are directed toward quality of school product or outcomes rather than typical "input" factors (such as teacher certification, number of books in the library, etc.);
- School improvement, while informed by data, is not driven by test scores but is pursued as a comprehensive process involving all aspects of human growth and learning;
- The process provides flexibility for unique situations and needs. Schools are required to plan a self-study process, within certain guidelines, that will most help the school in its own search for excellence;
- In both philosophy and practice, the focus of the ISACS accreditation program is on the development and nurture of excellence rather than certification. The principal objectives are to provide a stimulus for excellence, help the school assess its strengths and weaknesses, and help the school confirm the validity of its priorities and planning for improvement.
While the United States Department of Education can only recognize accrediting bodies for higher and adult education, ISACS accreditation is recognized by the U.S. Government for such purposes as certification by the Immigration and Naturalization Service for foreign students and access to military academies and programs. Most of the states in which member schools are located recognize ISACS accreditation, and some accept it in lieu of their own approval process. Universities and colleges throughout the country recognize ISACS accreditation, and ISACS is recognized by the College Board as an accrediting body for secondary schools located in this region.
The ISACS accreditation program has national recognition through an umbrella review process developed in 1989 by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and other independent school associations. The umbrella review process is similar to that used by the U. S. Department of Education in reviewing accrediting bodies for higher and adult education; it involves a detailed petition (self-study) and on-site visits by the NAIS Commission on Accreditation to two ISACS school accreditation visits and to a meeting of the ISACS Accreditation Review Committee. ISACS was the first of the independent school association accrediting bodies to complete the review process successfully; it received its NAIS recognition in June 1990. Its latest renewal came in September 2009. Click here to view the current ISACS certificate of Accreditation.