Accreditation for a school is quality assurance for parents that shows the school is measuring its performance against externally evaluated standards. The concept is like the ISO 9001 standard of quality management for businesses, but schools have accrediting agencies that specially design their standards for schools.
At AISVN, we are accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). The IBO authorizes us to provide our three curricular frameworks: Primary Years Programme (PYP) for Khám Phá to Grade 5; Middle Years Programme (MYP) for Grade 6-10 and the IB Diploma (DP) for Grade 11-12. AISVN has been authorized to offer the IB Diploma Programme since 2010 and in 2020 we became fully authorized by the IB to offer PYP. We are currently in our final year of candidacy for the MYP.
There is a very similar process for each of our accrediting agencies. CIS and WASC agree on their standards of accreditation and when we meet these standards we receive accreditation from both agencies. It is sort of a two-for-one deal, which is great for our school.
The WASC accreditation ensures that our graduates would be welcomed by schools in the USA and the CIS accreditation is recognized at universities in every other country in the world.
The IB offers the gold standard for curriculum frameworks and being a 3-programme fully authorized IB school ensures for parents that AISVN is offering the best programs in the world and by extension, the best type of education. On the IB website https://www.ibo.org/become-an-ib-school/, parents can find the IB Standards and Practices that authorized IB schools must meet. Similarly, link can find all the CIS standards of accreditation on their website, https://www.cois.org/for-schools/school-membership.
Once a school is fully authorized in an IB programme then the IB does a re-authorization of the school every five years. Similarly, CIS/WASC also have a 5-year re-accreditation cycle for schools. The agencies recognize that a lot can change in schools and in education best practices in five years.
The great thing about the IB programme is that they are constantly being reviewed and the syllabi for courses are updated frequently with new course guides for teachers and related training. This ensures that our teachers are trained frequently and have the best tools available for delivering the program. Each IB course is ‘’stress-tested’’ for rigor and because some of the course work is difficult, we need well-trained teachers to provide it to our students. At AISVN we do not do the IB programme because they are easy – we do them because they are hard.
Wherever we are in our accreditation cycle at AISVN, we are always willing to share the results of what our accrediting agencies think about our school with our parents. Recently, we shared the results of our CIS Preparatory Evaluation Report with our parents. Next, we sent all our stakeholders – students, parents, teachers, staff and alumni – the CIS Community survey. CIS created this survey to help schools gather perception data from stakeholders related to the standards. It is very important to hear from everyone involved with our school as we look to improve what we do. Our self-study committees will take this information and compare responses from different stakeholder groups before they begin answering the essential questions for each area of the school.
This information will be triangulated with evidence from the school and a narrative will be written against each standard in a large report that will be submitted to CIS/WASC in May 2021. As a school we will rate ourselves against the standards as being Partially Met, Not Met, Met or Exceeded. Accreditation makes us better as a school.
Future articles will describe the standards AISVN is held to in every area of our school operation.