Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Council of International Schools:
Why is AIS Seeking Accreditation with these Organizations, and What are they about?
The Purpose of Accreditation:
Accreditation is a term that originally meant trustworthiness in its middle French, Old Italian usage. The original purpose of accreditation in the United States was designed to encourage the standardization of secondary school programs, primarily to ensure for the benefit of colleges and universities that graduating students had mastered a particular body of knowledge. However, today the process developed by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), involves a dual purpose that continues the expectation that schools must be worthy of the trust placed in them to provide high quality learning opportunities, but with the added requirement that they clearly demonstrate that they are about the critical business of continual self-improvement.
Ultimately, the accreditation process is all about fostering excellence in the elementary, secondary, adult, postsecondary and supplementary education programs we accredit. Our fundamental cause involves helping schools meaningfully create the highest quality learning experience they can envision for all students. It is WASC's consistent purpose to professionally support schools in creating for themselves a clear vision of what they desire their students to know and be able to do and then to ensure that efficient and relevant systems are in place that predictably result in the fulfillment of those expectations for every child.
The capacity of any organization to improve is directly related to its ability to recognize, acknowledge, and act on its identified strengths and limitations. The accreditation process is a vehicle that enables schools to improve student learning and school performance based on an analysis of those strengths and limitations. Participating schools must meet rigorous, research-based standards that reflect the essential elements of a quality and effective school, but again, must also be able to demonstrate engagement in as well as capacity to provide continuous school improvement.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States. The Commission provides assistance to schools located in California, Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and East Asia.
This association is composed of three commissions:
- Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
- Accrediting Commission for Schools
The Accrediting Commission for Schools extends its services to public, independent, church-related, and proprietary schools of the following levels and types: elementary schools; junior high/middle/intermediate schools, comprehensive/college preparatory high schools, continuation high schools, alternative high schools, occupational/vocational high schools, regional occupational programs/centers, adult schools, and vocational skill centers. Many of the schools accredited also include postsecondary courses, e.g., courses which require a high school diploma or G.E.D.
The Accrediting Commission for Schools is composed of twenty-six representatives from educational organizations appointed as follows:
- California Association of California School Administrators
- California School Boards Association
- California Teachers Association
- California Federation of Teachers
- California State Department of Education
- Western Catholic Educational Association
- Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists
- California Association of Independent Schools
- California Congress of Parents and Teachers
- California Association of Private School Organizations
- Department of Education, State of Hawaii
- Hawaii Government Employees' Association
- Hawaii Association of Independent Schools
- Hawaii State Teachers Association
- East Asia Regional Council of Oversees Schools
The Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) believes that the goal of any school should be to provide for successful student learning. Programs encompassing both the cognitive and affective components of learning should foster human growth and development and enable students to become responsible, productive members of the school community and of society. Each school should develop a school purpose to reflect its beliefs. For ongoing program improvement, each school should engage in objective and subjective internal and external evaluations to assess progress in achieving its purpose.
The Commission grants accreditation to a school based upon the following:
The presumption that the primary goals of accreditation are
- certification to the public that the school is a trustworthy institution of learning
- The improvement of the school’s programs and operations to support student learning
The school’s self-study and the visiting committee’s report provides compelling evidence that
- the school is substantially accomplishing its stated purposes and functions identified as appropriate for an institution of its type
- the school is meeting an acceptable level of quality in accordance with the WASC criteria adopted by the Accrediting Commission
The mission of the Commission is to foster excellence in elementary, secondary, adult, and postsecondary education by encouraging school improvement through a process of continuing evaluation and to recognize, by accreditation, schools that meet an acceptable level of quality, in accordance with established criteria.
The Commission extends its services to public and private schools located in California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Marianas, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and to American/International Schools in East Asia and the Pacific.
The Council of International Schools (CIS)
The Council of International Schools is the premier organisation in International Education for the accreditation of schools and Best Practice development. CIS is a not-for-profit organisation of a truly worldwide international educational community comprising over 650 member schools and 450 colleges/universities. It has experience of K–12 education in more than 100 countries and many of the Council's Officers and Consultants are former heads of international schools.
The central purpose of CIS is to enable member organisations to achieve and deliver the highest standards in International Education and continually improve the outcome of
The Council of International Schools (CIS) is a not-for-profit association of schools and post-secondary institutions working collaboratively for the continuous improvement of international education. CIS offers a comprehensive range of services. In keeping with the diversity of our membership and the constant change associated with international education, these services are varied and flexible. We are a Membership organisation committed to meeting and, on occasions, anticipating the needs of our Members.
An example of the initiatives the CIS Executive are involved in at present are:
DEFINING INTERNATIONALISM THROUGH STANDARDS
The CIS Executive are working with members towards adopting a set of standards that define international education.
The CIS Board consists of five elected and four appointed members. They meet four times a year alternating meetings between the northern and southern hemispheres.
CIS awards are a mechanism for recognizing students in CIS member International schools. The Award recognises the contributions to school and community improvement made by students in CIS member schools. It may acknowledge the projects of students or groups of students and may be awarded in cooperation with the regional associations and initiatives they might support.
Think Tanks are an initiative the CIS Executive have set up to ensure CIS services keep pace with our members. Currently looking at Accreditation and Governance, each Think Tank comprises a Board Member, two appointed Members, two volunteers from the Membership, the Executive Director and a staff member from a specific service.
WASC, CIS and AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Since 2009, American International School has been an applicant school with the both the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and Council of International Schools. The school is in process of assembling reports, surveys, documents and narrative in over 800 categories, and formulating an action plan that will see us accredited in the near future.
- Advanced Diploma (Already Recognized)
- International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (taught from August,2010)
- WASC/CIS (in process)