Accreditation is extremely important when looking at a prospective online high school. But what does accreditation really mean? Is it just a rubber stamp? How does it add value to the educational process? Here is a look behind the scenes at what the process of going through accreditation with AdvancED meant for us at Christian Educators Academy…
- First of all, accreditation is not a rubber stamp; it is a rigorous, never-ending process. Preparing for our most recent external audit, which we just completed in April, took over six months of work, and involved everyone in the organization. We had to go through a painstaking process of self-examination and analysis, identifying strengths and weaknesses, as well as areas for improvement.
- Accreditation does not take a “one and done” approach, but rather calls for a culture of continuous self-examination and improvement that is evidenced by data. In other words, it is an ongoing process that never stops.
- Accreditation focuses first and foremost on student success and student learning. Are students achieving success? Are results improving? How do we measure that improvement? Success isn’t just focused on getting good grades, passing college entrance exams or doing well academically. Are we teaching students to think critically, to apply their learning, and to develop life skills? Are we comprehensively meeting students needs? Do they feel safe? Is someone in the organization “watching out” for them? Do they have access to resources, career and college counseling, and other services they need?
- Does everyone in the organization understand our purpose, and is everyone committed to achieving it? Are our teachers properly trained and equipped? Do they feel empowered? Valued? Are we ensuring that they continue to develop professionally?
- Are we communicating with the families? Are they engaged? Do they understand their roles in the educational process?
- Does the curriculum provide assessments and diagnostics? Is the navigation clear? Are tutorials, training and help provided?
- How do we customize curriculum around individual student needs? What is our intake process? Do we effectively identify students needs and adjust to them?
For us, going through the process of accreditation was long, tiring, and at times, grueling. However, we felt the effort was well worth it, and made us better overall, in every way. We were able to identify many things we were doing well, a few areas we need to improve in. Overall, we passed our external review with “flying colors”. We were happy with the results, and with what we learned. Most importantly, going through the process of accreditation has given us confidence. We know that the service we are offering is high quality. Ultimately our goal is to provide the very best education we can to all of our students through our accredited online high school, and we can confidently state that we are doing that.