Frequently Asked Questions About Accreditation
What is the added value of NJAIS accreditation?
Accreditation promotes a reflective and collaborative whole school inprovement process. It speaks directly to a school's commitment to superalitve quality and the highest, rigorous standards of evaluation. Accreditation assures parents and the public that the school is focused on providing a safe and enriching learning environment while maintaining an efficient and effective operation.
The NJAIS Standards for Accreditaiton and our procedures for accreditation are congruent with the internationally accepted criteria and model core standards adopted by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) International Commission on Accreditation and are updated annually based on current research and exceptional practices. The entire process is meant for quality independent schools.
What is the difference between an NJAIS-accredited school and a non-accredited school for a prospective independent school parent?
There are good independent schools who are not accredited by NJAIS, but we encourage parents looking at schools to use NJAIS membership and accreditation like a "seal of approval." If a school is not a member or not accredited by NJAIS, ask why. Accreditation demonstrates a willingness by the school to aim high, to set ambitious goals and standards, and then to work very hard to achieve--and surpass--these standards. Most schools try to 'self-improve.' Being evaluated by an independent, objective body enables each school to be more accountable to all its constituents.
My school is an International Baccalaureat school. What is the value of NJAIS accreditation?
The IB program provides an outstanding measure of academic achievement, but it does not replicate broad-based attention to all areas of school life. NJAIS' evaluation is not confined to curriculum or program delivery; it is "whole-school," and also includes key areas such as admissions, development/advancement, finance, risk management, school community, and governance.
Our school environment is complex and busy. Is the time invested in accreditation worth it?
Ask our NJAIS-accredited schools! Schools tell us that a solid process requires time, but they also show us evidence that their investment contributes to innovation and sustained whole-school improvement. Accreditation requires schools--and they are busy places--to stop and reflect on what they are doing well and what more they can do to challenge and support students.
There is often debate over which part of the accreditation process provides more value. Certainly the exercise of reflecting on programs is important. So, too, is the Visiting Team's external review. NJAIS builds teams based on an individual school's profile and needs. The team comes from similar schools across the state and sometimes the Tri-State area. The Visiting Team asks good questions and provides insight, commendations, and recommendations for moving forward.
Independent schools are varied and unique. Our accreditation process is not "cookie-cutter" either. We make the process feasible and rewarding, and know that an accreditation journey will yield unparalled value--introspective, strategic, reflective, collaborative, and comprehensive.
Jim Collins, author of 'Good to Great' and 'Great By Choice', told an audience at the 2013 NAIS Conference in Philadelphia that the most dangerous thing is being successful without understanding why. He also warned that the enemy of great is good. We are proud that NJAIS schools share a passion for on-going improvement.