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2011 Standards for Accreditation

High Schools Hosting Decennial Accreditation Teams through 2019

Though CPS introduced new Standards for Accreditation and a redesigned Accreditation process for elementary, middle and high schools which will host Decennial Accreditation teams beginning in 2020, schools that are scheduled to host a visit in 2018 or 2019 will continue to use the 2011 Standards and the associated Accreditation process

Here you will find:
 

  • full descriptions of each Standard
     
  • Indicators for each Standard
     
  • a list of questions to help guide you through each Indicator
     
  • Rating Guides for schools to use with the Standards
     
  • a Bibliography citing research supporting each Standard
     
  • a sample narrative for each Standard to be used during the Self-Study
     
  • additional resources as needed
     

View the Common Core and State Cross-walks for the 2011 Standards

Standard 1

Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations

Effective schools identify core values and beliefs about learning that function as explicit foundational commitments to students and the community. Decision-making remains focused on and aligned with these critical commitments. Core values and beliefs manifest themselves in research-based, school-wide 21st century learning expectations. Every component of the school is driven by the core values and beliefs and supports all students’ achievement of the school’s learning expectations.

Indicator 1

The school community engages in a dynamic, collaborative and inclusive process informed by current research-based best practices to identify and commit to its core values and beliefs about learning.
 

What to Look for:

  • a record is available of the process used by the stakeholders to identify and commit to core values and beliefs about learning, including dates of more than one meeting and names of participants with designation of role in school (e.g., 11th grade student; science teacher; parent of freshman; principal)

  • dates of the initial approval by the faculty, students, parents, and other stakeholders as well as the school board are noted

  • evidence of the current research-based best practices used to inform the process is available along with a brief narrative of the process and activities involved

  • the core values and beliefs about learning can be easily identified in the school’s narrative (by underlining or italicizing them, e.g., a belief by all that ”students learn best when they can apply their learning and can make connections with topics in other subjects” or the belief that “teachers can best improve instruction for all students when they are reflective and collaborative”)

  • students, faculty, parents, when chosen arbitrarily can state in general terms what the school’s core values and beliefs about learning are and indicate how these values and beliefs about learning impact them

  • the document which includes the core values and beliefs about learning is published in documents, on the website, and is readily available

Indicator 2

The school has challenging and measurable 21st century learning expectations for all students which address academic, social and civic competencies, and are defined by specific and measureable criteria for success, school-wide analytic rubrics, that identify targeted high levels of achievement.
 

What to Look For:

  • The school’s approved statement of core values and beliefs about learning includes a list of learning expectations which are or can  easily be labeled by academic, civic, or social competencies

  • The school’s learning expectations are challenging

  • The school’s learning expectations prepare students for the remainder of the 21st century

  • The school has specific and measurable criteria, such as an analytic rubric, for each learning expectation (including, academic, civic, and social) that can be used with all students (or school-wide) (e.g. each rubric has specific criteria listed under various levels of achievement  so that students, parents, and teachers, are very clear about what the student must do to be successful on each of the learning expectations)

  • Each specific and measurable criteria, such as an analytic rubric,  has the desired level of achievement clearly marked or targeted (e.g., “meeting the expectation”)

  • The school’s learning expectations are consistent with its core values and beliefs about learning (e.g., if the school has a social competency of “collaborative worker”, do the school’s core values and beliefs about learning make explicit teachers are expected to be collaborative also)

  • The school’s specific and measurable criteria, such as analytic rubrics,  use the same terminology so students are not confused about different expectations or levels of achievement (e.g., categories might be:  “does not meet expectation”,  “approaching expectation”, “meeting the expectation,” and “meeting the expectation with distinction”

Indicator 3

The school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations are actively reflected in the culture of the school, drive curriculum, instruction, and assessment in every classroom, and guide the school’s policies, procedures, decisions, and resource allocations.
 

What to Look For:

  • examples of ways that the culture of the school reflects the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations; e.g., if the school’s core values include promoting a sense of internationalism in students, one might see a variety of programs which expose students to various cultures, possible foreign language requirements for all students; extended learning and travel programs; involvement of businesses that are global in nature

  • examples of specific changes made to the (a) curriculum, (b) instruction, and (c) assessment in response to the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations, e.g., curriculum: if the school’s core values include promoting a sense of internationalism in students, then changes would be make to the curriculum, especially to courses that all students take to include topics about global studies and internationalism; instruction: if a belief about learning is that students learn from other students, then instructional strategies would include opportunities for students to learn from each other; assessment: if the beliefs about learning include the idea that students should have more than one chance to be assessed on a learning expectation, then teachers’ grading practices would reflect this belief, and students would not be penalized for receiving a low score early in the semester, if the student eventually masters the learning expectations.

  • specific changes to or adaptations of school policies, procedures, and decisions resulting from examination of the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations: a school community holds a variety of meetings to discuss grouping practices and takes step to reduce the number of levels of courses in order to ensure that all students are exposed to challenging curriculum; on the same topic, a school creates common assessment for like-courses so that all students are held to a high level of expectation; a school; a school reviews its cell-phone policy to incorporate the use of cell-phones and smart phones for learning

  • a list of resource allocations that have been made in response to supporting the school’s core values, beliefs about learning, and its 21st century learning expectations, e.g., a school reports specific increases in professional development funding to help teachers learn how to review data and to begin the work of disaggregating data; a school reports additional funding to develop new curriculum and to provide materials, supplies, and staffing for a new course designed specifically for one of the school’s learning expectations.

  • visitors will see signs of the culture of the school, e.g.,

    • academic learning is valued

    • the school is truly a community of learners or a democratic school or an inclusive school

    • the adults respect students; students respect adults; students respect students; there are no obvious cliques at odds with each other; teachers talk about teaching and learning when they are out of the classroom; departments are not segregated; cross-disciplinary discussion occur, are valued, and are made easy by configuration; support staff are treated as integral members of the school community; there are no obviously disenfranchised students; decisions are made on the basis of what is best for all students

Indicator 4

The school regularly reviews and revises its core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations based on research, multiple data sources, as well as district and school community priorities.


What to Look for:

  • the school leadership has a process and timeline for the regular review and revision of its core values, beliefs, and the learning expectations

  • school leaders and faculty can cite readings/research to ensure they are cognizant of 21st century learning skills

  • periodic forums are held to share information about 21st century skills and learning, including the solicitation of feedback from the local business community

  • the school examines data about students’ achievement of school-wide learning expectations, student performance on standardized tests, and student work as part of a review of targeted school-wide learning priorities

  • there are data teams, or PLC’s, or other designated groups who meet regularly to analyze results of standardized tests, assessment of student achievement of the school’s learning expectations, especially disaggregated data to determine achievement gaps

  • evidence of changes made or discussion of the learning expectations, based upon the review of data sources

  • as part of the work of PLC’s faculty regularly discusses research on learning to include an assessment of the implications of such research on the school’s beliefs about learning;

  • the faculty incorporates discussion of district and community priorities into its discussion of the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations

  • the school’s learning expectations align with the district’s learning goals

Guide to Developing Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations

In order to assist schools in meeting the 2011 Standards for Accreditation, especially with regard to Standard 1 - Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations, the Commission has developed a Guide to Developing Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations. 

The Commission urges member schools to read this document carefully and use it as they review, revise and modify their learning expectations; develop analytic rubrics; and assess each student's achievement of the learning expectations. Schools should find the document particularly useful in understanding the differences between the 2011 and the 2005 Standards for Accreditation.

Guide to Developing Core Values (pdf)

Rating Guide

The Commission has developed a set of rating guides to be used with each of the Standards for Accreditation. Schools who are engaged in the self-study process use the rating guides as they assess their adherence to each of the Standards. As well, after they have met with students, parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in the school, visiting committee teams use the rating guides to assess the school's adherence to the Standards Finally, the Commission uses the rating guides as they make decisions about a school's accreditation status.

Standard 1 Rating Guide (pdf)

Bibliography

In the process of reviewing/rewriting the Standards a purposeful commitment was made by the Commission to cite current research and best practice in support of the concepts within each of the Standards and the Indicators. Both the Commission and the Commission staff encourage member schools to access the bibliography throughout the decennial cycle. Funding for this work was provided through a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for which the Commission is deeply appreciative.

References for Standard 1

Standard 2

Curriculum

The written and taught curriculum is designed to result in all students achieving the school's 21st century expectations for student learning. The written curriculum is the framework within which a school aligns and personalizes the school's 21st century learning expectations. The curriculum includes a purposefully designed set of course offerings, co-curricular programs, and other learning opportunities. The curriculum reflects the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. The curriculum is collaboratively developed, implemented, reviewed, and revised based on analysis of student performance and current research.

Indicator 1

The curriculum is purposefully designed to ensure that all students practice and achieve each of the school's 21st century learning expectations.
 

What to Look For:

  • each curriculum area has assumed responsibility for teaching one or more of the 21st century learning expectations

  • a core curriculum is required of all students that addresses all of the 21st century learning expectations

  • the design of the curriculum ensure that each student has multiple learning experiences to ensure he/she achieves the learning expectations

  • when appropriate, alternative paths/programs and time options are available to those students who need significant additional support or time to meet expectations (e.g., on-line learning, summer programs, extra courses, evening courses, Saturday programs)

  • ancillary support mechanisms are in place to help all students achieve the expectations (e.g., teachers schedule extra help sessions; learning centers, writing centers are open to provide support; tutoring is available)

  • data will be used regarding the school’s learning expectations when the school makes decisions to add or delete courses or units from the curriculum

Indicator 2

The curriculum is written in a common format that includes:

  • units of study with essential questions, concepts, content, and skills

  • the school’s 21st century learning expectations

  • instructional strategies

  • assessment practices that include the use of specific and measurable criteria for success, such as school-wide analytic rubrics,  and course specific rubrics.
     

What to Look For:

  • the school uses a curriculum template for all courses which includes essential questions, concepts, content, and skills

  • the school uses a curriculum template for all courses which includes the schools 21t century learning expectations

  • the school uses a curriculum template for all courses which includes instructional strategies

  • the school uses a curriculum template for all courses which includes assessment practices that include the use of specific and measurable criteria for success, such as school-wide analytic rubrics, and course specific rubrics

Indicator 3

The curriculum emphasizes depth of understanding and application of knowledge through:

  • inquiry and problem-solving

  • higher order thinking

  • cross-disciplinary learning

  • authentic learning opportunities both in and out of school

  • informed and ethical use of technology.
     

What to Look For:

  • Is the curriculum intellectually challenging and does it provide opportunities for students to authentically apply knowledge and skills?

  • All courses, regardless of level, provide students with rigorous and challenging learn experiences which require them to apply, analyze, synthesize, compare/contrast, and evaluate

  • The Program of Studies clearly offers challenging coursework for all students (i.e., there are no courses that “water down” the curriculum for certain “less able” students)

  • Intellectual rigor is evident in the quality of student work reflecting higher order thinking and problem solving techniques

  • Students are regularly called upon to demonstrate their growing body of knowledge, skills, ideas, and concepts and to apply them to real life situations

    • writing is done for audiences beyond the classroom {e.g., businessmen, Congress; proposals developed for local agencies (students in a marine biology class engage in a community water quality project, spend time in the field, and write a report for the community)

    • students prepare portfolios of their work to be shared periodically with parents and a panel of outside judges

    • project work replaces much teacher-directed learning and leads to formal public presentations to audiences of parents, community people, university-based educator, scientific organizations

    • students apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of media (such as music files, etc.); students apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information to a given project

    • the school is able to describe structures that are in place to ensure all of the above: supervision practices; peer review; review of student work; results of assessments

Indicator 4

There is clear alignment between the written and taught curriculum.
 

What to Look For:

  • a school will be able to describe the structures in place which ensures that the written curriculum is taught, e.g., curriculum coordinators supervise teachers and provide assistance to new teachers

  • assessment that are referenced in curriculum documents would be used regularly by all teachers teaching the same course

  • common assessments for a course would be used and regularly re viewed to pinpoint gaps in the curriculum

  • a visitor to the school who has the opportunity to visit a number of sections of the same course over a reasonable period of time would observe the curriculum being taught in each course as the same curriculum described in the curriculum documents

  • teachers of the same course would meet regularly to share ideas about delivering the curriculum

Indicator 5

Effective curricular coordination and vertical articulation exist between and among all academic areas within the school as well as with sending schools in the district.
 

What to Look For:

  • the school will have a written curriculum review cycle, which includes time devoted to the development, review, and evaluation of the curriculum

  • faculty members will spend time in collaboration activities (e.g., PLC’s, critical friends groups, common planning time, et. al.) within content areas, across content areas, and with sending schools for the purpose of articulation of the curriculum

  • district curriculum guides will provide a continuum of student learning expectations and curriculum guides K-12

  • curriculum is aligned across disciplines and within disciplines (e.g., tenth grade English teachers are not asking students to read a novel the students read in grade 8)

  • regular formal meetings of curriculum leaders/teachers are held between sending schools and the high school to ensure seamless curriculum articulation

  • meetings of school instructional leaders (e.g., department heads or curriculum leaders) and teachers occur regularly to ensure that all student learning expectations are addressed consistently throughout the school (e.g., student writing is reviewed to determine whether writing expectations are being met by the curriculum across all subject areas)

  • the library/media center’s resources, programs and services are coordinated with and supportive of the curriculum

  • all faculty members and student support service personnel (e.g., guidance counselors, special educators, and library media specialists) are involved in the development, evaluation, and revision of curriculum

Indicator 6

Staffing levels, instructional materials, technology, equipment, supplies, facilities, and the resources of the library/media center are sufficient to fully implement the curriculum, including the co-curricular programs and other learning opportunities.
 

What to Look For:

  • the school’s class sizes, both school-wide and by academic area, are sufficient to implement the curriculum (individual teacher loads and class sizes are reasonable)

  • the school’s expenditures over the most recent three year period for instructional materials, technology, equipment, supplies, and library-media resources are sufficient to implement the curriculum

  • all areas of the facility support the delivery of the curriculum (e.g. science labs, art rooms, technology areas) are sufficient in number and in working order to conduct the experiences necessary to implement the curriculum (laboratories in science, etc,)

  • laboratories in the school are up-to-date, in working order; classrooms are large enough to do project-based learning, and computer rooms or other technology centers are available to accommodate classes

  • sufficient staffing means that classroom teaching loads are within reason; staffing should be sufficient to enable the school to teach all parts of the curriculum (e.g., lab sciences, art, music, technology)

  • sufficient classrooms are available to fully support the school’s program of studies

  • the library/media center’s resources adequately support the curriculum with supplemental material as well as computers to support research

  • funding is sufficient to support co-curricular programs and other learning opportunities (e.g., virtual programs, music, drama, athletic and other leadership opportunities, etc.)

  • technology, including computers, wiring infrastructure, etc., is sufficient

Indicator 7

The district provides the school’s professional staff with sufficient personnel, time, and financial resources for ongoing and collaborative development, evaluation, and revision of the curriculum using assessment results and current research.
 

What to Look For:

  • the district provides leadership for curriculum coordination and articulation

  • expenditures over a three-year period for curriculum development, evaluation, and revision show sufficient funding

  • teachers and administrators can cite research (books, professional development, articles, etc.) they have used to inform their thinking during the development, evaluation and revision of curriculum

  • teachers review assessment data which specifically measure student performance of the 21st century learning expectations and use the results of the review to inform their decisions regarding curriculum revisions

  • teachers have time to meet regularly with curriculum leaders to review the success of their curriculum and instructional practices in meeting the learning expectations as well as subject specific outcomes

Rating Guide

The Commission has developed a set of rating guides to be used with each of the Standards for Accreditation.  Schools who are engaged in the self-study process use the rating guides as they assess their adherence to each of the Standards.  As well, after they have met with students, parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in the school, visiting committee teams use the rating guides to assess the school's adherence to the Standards   Finally, the Commission uses the rating guides as they make decisions about a school's accreditation status. 

Standard 2 Rating Guide (pdf)

Bibliography

In the process of reviewing/rewriting the Standards a purposeful commitment was made by the Commission to cite current research and best practice in support of the concepts within each of the Standards and the Indicators. Both the Commission and the Commission staff encourage member schools to access the bibliography throughout the decennial cycle. Funding for this work was provided through a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for which the Commission is deeply appreciative.

References for Standard 2

Standard 3

Instruction

The quality of instruction is the single most important factor in students’ achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. Instruction is responsive to student needs, deliberate in its design and delivery, and grounded in the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. Instruction is supported by research in best practices. Teachers are reflective and collaborative about their instructional strategies and collaborative with their colleagues to improve student learning.

 

Indicator 1

Teachers’ instructional practices are continuously examined to ensure consistency with the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations.


What to Look for:

  • teachers are clearly familiar with the school’s beliefs about learning and often reference them when making decision about which instructional strategies to employ

  • teaching practices in all classes consistently and overtly support the core values and beliefs about learning (e.g., if the school has identified independent learning and active engagement, then all teachers use practices which engage students and cause students to be able to work without direct teacher instruction and they would be acting as coaches)

  • teachers might engage in peer observation and reflection in order to examine their practices against the school’s 21st century learning expectations as well as the school’s beliefs about learning

  • teaching practices would be regularly examined against the school’s learning expectations in order to ensure teachers are modeling the expectations for students (e.g., use of technology, collaboration, reflection)

Indicator 2

Teachers’ instructional practices support the achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations by:

• personalizing instruction
• engaging students in cross disciplinary learning
• engaging students as active and self-directed learners
• emphasizing inquiry, problem solving, and higher order thinking
• applying knowledge and skills to authentic tasks
• engaging students in self-assessment and reflection
• integrating technology.
 

What to Look for:

  • personalizing instruction

    • teachers meet regularly with individuals or small groups of students to address individual learning needs

    • teachers select and employ the appropriate instructional approaches to address various learning styles

    • teachers call home to talk with parents/families to enlist support

    • teachers show respect, positive rapport in day-to-day conversations with students

    • teachers act as advisors/mentors (See Standard 5, Indicator 3)

  • engaging students in cross disciplinary learning

    • students are involved in thematic studies that helps them study topics that transcend more than one content area and make connections across the content areas

    • teachers regularly help students to see how a given topic/lesson extends across the content areas

    • school-wide instruction is planned around a theme

    • see Standard 2: Curriculum for related topics

  • engaging students as active and self-directed learners

    •  students take on an active role in learning and are not sitting passively at their desks

    • students are engaged in hand’s-on, project-based learning and discovery lessons
    • teachers are actively facilitating lessons and acting as coaches by asking students to do independent research, work in cooperative groups, apply knowledge to real-world
  •  emphasizing inquiry, problem solving, and higher order thinking

    • teachers focus students on key themes, concepts, and essential questions

    • teachers spend sufficient time on a unit/theme/topic/essential question to allow students to understand the concepts or information in depth

    • teachers emphasize skills that extend beyond acquisition of knowledge and skills on Bloom’s Taxonomy

    • teachers regularly ask students to apply knowledge, to analyze what t hey have learned, to synthesize concepts, to compare/contrast, and to evaluate

  • applying knowledge and skills to authentic tasks

    • teachers ask students to write for audiences beyond the classroom

    • teachers ask students to share portfolios with parents and critical friends

    • teachers ask students to engage in meaningful project work that leads to formal presentations, often involving audiences beyond the school

    • students participate in internships and school-to-career opportunities

  • engaging students in self-assessment and reflection

    • teachers routinely ask students to reflect on their work and to self-critique (e.g., through the use of portfolios and with the application of rubrics)

    • teachers clarify for students that assessment is part of the learning process, not simply an evaluation at the end of an activity, relating assessment to the school’s core values, if applicable

    • teachers routinely and regularly ask students to reflect on their own work, to write about how they would make improvements or changes, to critique their own work as well as their peers

  •  integrating technology

    • teachers use appropriate technology to enhance instruction

    • all teachers have had professional development which provides them with knowledge to employ technology as a means of involving students in inquiry, problem-solving, and higher-order thinking

    • all teachers are expected to use technology to enhance learning

    • teachers routinely involve students in using appropriate technology to extend learning (e.g., students know how to use presentation software such as PowerPoint; they would be seen using presentation software to draw conclusions about what their discovery process taught them and to illustrate the newly-drawn concepts to classmates)

Indicator 3

Teachers adjust their instructional practices to meet the needs of each student by:

• using formative assessment, especially during instructional time
• strategically differentiating
• purposefully organizing group learning activities
• providing additional support and alternative strategies within the regular classroom.
 

What to Look for:

Teachers adjust their instructional practices to meet the needs of each student by:

  • Using formative assessment, especially during instructional time

    • teachers regularly assess each student’s learning throughout the lesson by employing a variety of assessments (e.g.,” write out the steps you have used so far to complete this problem”; “share with your partner the next steps you will take to do this lab and be prepared to share the steps with the whole class”)

    • teachers make clear to students that the purpose of these assessments is improvement, not a final “grade”

    • feedback is specific and immediate to help students improve

  • strategically differentiating

    • teachers regularly analyze formative assessments and other information collected about individual students and devise and employ instructional strategies to specifically help individual students learn the concept/skills

  • purposefully organizing group learning activities

    •  teachers plan group learning activities designed to engage students in in-depth learning and to assist students in collaborating

  • providing additional support and alternative strategies within the regular classroom

    • teachers provide extra-help sessions for students who need additional time to learn

    • teachers pair strategically pair students for maximum learning

Indicator 4

Teachers, individually and collaboratively, improve their instructional practices by:

  • using student achievement data from a variety of formative and summative
  • assessments
  • examining student work
  • using feedback from a variety of sources, including students, other teachers,
  • supervisors, and parents
  • examining current research
  • engaging in professional discourse focused on instructional practice.


 

What to Look for:

  • using student achievement data from a variety of formative and summative assessments

    • teachers have regular, formal time to meet to review assessment data through professional learning communities, critical friends’ groups, faculty/department meeting time purposefully designed for the review of assessments

    • teachers examine local assessment data -- including assessments which employ the school-wide rubrics, common-assessment data, individual teacher assessment data – and modify their teaching practices based on what they have learned from this examination of data

  • examining student work

    • teachers regularly meet within their content area and across content areas to look at student work, e.g., writing samples, projects, etc.

  • using feedback from a variety of sources, including students, other teachers, supervisors, and parents

    • teachers regularly gather feedback from parents and make adjustments in their instruction, if appropriate

    • teachers regularly gather feedback from students and make adjustments in their instruction, if appropriate

    • department meetings regularly devote time for teachers to share and discuss instructional improvement

    • the use of feedback is accepted as an important part of instructional improvement and it permeates the culture of the school

  • examining current research

    • the entire faculty reads a journal article, or a book on current research and best practices and engages in discussion

    • the school's professional library provides books, journals, links to websites, on teaching pedagogy

    • teachers have formal time for the review and discussion of research and best practices

    • decisions in the school are reflective of this review of current research

  • engaging in professional discourse focused on instructional practice

    • teachers have formal time to discuss research and best practices related to instruction

    • school leadership communicates an expectation that improving instruction is important and professional discourse contributes to that improvement

Indicator 5

Teachers, as adult learners and reflective practitioners, maintain expertise in their content area and in content-specific instructional practices.
 

What to Look for:

  • teachers regularly read content-specific literature designed to help them use strategies specific to their subject

  • teachers regularly reflect on their reading of current literature and best practices, their conversations with colleagues, feedback provided by administrators, parents, and students

  • teachers attend conferences and programs to improve their learning

  • teachers maintain journals or portfolios which evidence their own work and self-reflection

Rating Guide

The Commission has developed a set of rating guides to be used with each of the Standards for Accreditation. Schools who are engaged in the self-study process use the rating guides as they assess their adherence to each of the Standards. As well, after they have met with students, parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in the school, visiting committee teams use the rating guides to assess the school's adherence to the Standards Finally, the Commission uses the rating guides as they make decisions about a school's accreditation status.

Standard 3 Rating Guide (pdf)

Bibliography

In the process of reviewing/rewriting the Standards a purposeful commitment was made by the Commission to cite current research and best practice in support of the concepts within each of the Standards and the Indicators. Both the Commission and the Commission staff encourage member schools to access the bibliography throughout the decennial cycle. Funding for this work was provided through a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for which the Commission is deeply appreciative.

References for Standard 3

Standard 4

Assessment of and for Student Learning

Assessment informs students and stakeholders of progress and growth toward meeting the school's 21st century learning expectations. Assessment results are shared and discussed on a regular basis to improve student learning. Assessment results inform teachers about student achievement in order to adjust curriculum and instruction.

Indicator 1

The professional staff continuously employs a formal process to assess whole-school and individual student progress in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations based on specific and measurable criteria for success, such as school-wide analytic rubrics.


What to Look For:

  • there is a formal, ongoing process, based on the school’s  specific and measurable criteria for success, such as school-wide analytic rubrics, that has been developed and fully implemented to assess both individual student and whole school progress in achieving each of the school’s 21st century learning expectations

  • individual student performance is evaluated and analyzed based on the specific and measurable criteria for success, such as school-wide analytic rubrics, that clearly designate the range and levels of success in achieving the school’s 21st century leaning expectations

Indicator 2

The school’s professional staff communicates:

  • individual student progress in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations to students and their families

  • the school’s progress in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations to the school community.
     

What to Look for:

  • the school has identified benchmark dates/times throughout the school year when it communicates in writing to all students and their families related to individual student progress in achieving each of the 21st century learning expectations

  • the school communicated to the larger school community the whole school’s progress in achieving each of its 21st century leaning expectations

Indicator 3

Professional staff collects, disaggregates, and analyzes data to identify and respond to inequities in student achievement.


What to Look for:

  • the professional staff collects, disaggregates, and analyzes, a range and variety of data, including both formative and summative assessments, to identify inequities in student achievement
  • the professional staff regularly uses the data to inform changes/modification in curriculum design and instructional practices to resolve these inequities on a regular basis, including analysis at the conclusion of a unit of study, in the review of common assessments given during mid-year of final exams; student portfolios and end of semester or yearly performance projects

Indicator 4

Prior to each unit of study, teachers communicate to students the school’s applicable 21st century learning expectations and related unit-specific learning goals to be assessed.


What to Look for:

  • teachers articulate what students are expected to know and be able to demonstrate

  • teachers explain which of the school’s 21st century skills and expectations as well as content-based understandings and applications of knowledge that are required

  • teachers identify in all types of assignments using classroom and electronic postings, oral assignments, and major projects the specific 21st century learning expectations and/or course-specific expectations

Indicator 5

Prior to summative assessments, teachers provide students with the corresponding rubrics.

What to Look For:

  • teachers provide students with the specific and measurable criteria for success, such as school-wide analytic rubrics, and/or course-specific rubrics that will be used to assess their learning

Indicator 6

In each unit of study, teachers employ a range of assessment strategies, including formative and summative assessments.


What to Look for:

  • teachers understand and use a range of formative and summative assessment strategies

  • teachers regularly use formative assessments by explaining what students are expected to learn and what learning activities will be used, providing exemplars for assignments/projects, by assessing learning on a day-to-day basis through observation, conversations with students on an individual basis or in small groups, reviewing student progress-to-date, and encouraging student reworking of assignments and self-assessment

  • teachers appropriately use summative assessments such as state test results, district benchmark, end-of-unit chapter tests, end-of-term or semester exams, and scores used for accountability purposes such as AYP

Indicator 7

Teachers collaborate regularly in formal ways on the creation, analysis, and revision of formative and summative assessments, including common assessments.


What to Look for:

  • the school has designated formal time for teachers, department leaders, and building administrators to collaborate regularly about assessment practices

  • the professional staff reviews summative assessment data/results and makes modifications based on student learning in curriculum and instructional practices throughout the school year

  • the professional staff reviews formative assessment results and makes modifications to curriculum and instructional practices throughout the school year

  • the professional staff focuses increased attention on common assessment both within common courses and across curricular areas (common writing assignments, student exhibitions and portfolios, and major projects)

  • all grade ten English teachers look at a sample of student essays to determine if the current writing rubric is appropriate

  • the school maintains an appropriate balance between formative and summative assessments to ensure that daily, ongoing student learning is assessed

Indicator 8

Teachers provide specific, timely, and corrective feedback to ensure students revise and improve their work.


What to Look for:

  • teachers use formative assessment practices to monitor and assess in the short-term students’ work and provide students with immediate opportunities to revise/resubmit their work before their work is formally assessed

  • teachers review results of summative assessments and provide feedback to students prior to moving on to a new unit of study

Indicator 9

Teachers regularly use formative assessment to inform and adapt their instruction for the purpose of improving student learning.


What to Look for:

  • teacher collaboration occurs on a regular basis for the expressed purpose of using formative assessment results to determine appropriate, necessary changes in instructional practices such as, lower than anticipated results on the school’s analytic rubrics for writing suggests that students need some differentiated instruction, or additional opportunities to revise their writing following individual feedback to students

Indicator 10

Teachers and administrators, individually and collaboratively, examine a range of evidence of student learning for the purpose of revising curriculum and improving instructional practice, including all of the following:

  • student work

  • common course and common grade-level assessments

  • individual and school-wide progress in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations

  • standardized assessments

  • data from sending schools, receiving schools, and post-secondary institutions

  • survey data from current students and alumni.
     

What to Look for:

  • teachers shall meet collaboratively to discuss and share student work and the results of student assessments for the purposes of revising the curriculum and improving instructional strategies

Indicator 11

Grading and reporting practices are regularly reviewed and revised to ensure alignment with the school’s core values and beliefs about learning.


What to Look for:

  • the professional staff regularly reviews the school’s grading practices to ensure they reflect the balanced use by all teachers of formative assessments, summative assessments and common assessments

  • the professional staff regularly reviews teachers’ consistent use of the school-wide analytic rubrics in determining individual student progress in achieving the school’s learning expectations and makes appropriate changes in its grading policies

  • the professional staff ensures that grading practices are consistent across all subject areas and by all teachers

  • the professional staff is focused on standards-based grading practices which measure student proficiency and promote mixed ability grouping

Rating Guide

The Commission has developed a set of rating guides to be used with each of the Standards for Accreditation. Schools who are engaged in the self-study process use the rating guides as they assess their adherence to each of the Standards. As well, after they have met with students, parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in the school, visiting committee teams use the rating guides to assess the school's adherence to the Standards Finally, the Commission uses the rating guides as they make decisions about a school's accreditation status.

Standard 4 Rating Guide (pdf)

Bibliography

In the process of reviewing/rewriting the Standards a purposeful commitment was made by the Commission to cite current research and best practice in support of the concepts within each of the Standards and the Indicators. Both the Commission and the Commission staff encourage member schools to access the bibliography throughout the decennial cycle. Funding for this work was provided through a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for which the Commission is deeply appreciative.

References for Standard 4

Standard 5

School Culture and Leadership

The school culture is equitable and inclusive, and it embodies the school's foundational core values and beliefs about student learning. It is characterized by reflective, collaborative, and constructive dialogue about research-based practices that support high expectations for the learning of all students. The leadership of the school fosters a safe, positive culture by promoting learning, cultivating shared leadership, and engaging all members of the school community in efforts to improve teaching and learning.

Indicator 1

The school community consciously and continuously builds a safe, positive, respectful, and supportive culture that fosters student responsibility for learning and results in shared ownership, pride, and high expectations for all.


What to Look for:

  • student, parent, and teacher handbooks reflect high expectations for all students and communicate high expectations for all

  • discipline and attendance policies illustrate student responsibility and high expectations for all as well as a supportive culture 

  • comparative annual data on disciplinary actions and incidences of vandalism reflect downward trends 

  •  the school focuses efforts on and can cite specific programs or activities that are related to improving school climate (e.g., tolerance and diversity programs) 

  • the school can cite specific programs to document that students feel a sense of pride and ownership in their school, e.g. participation numbers for school or community clean-up days, wide-scale participation in academic programs, portfolio nights, science fairs, as well as athletic and performing arts programs 

  • conversations with students reveal that students believe much is expected of them in terms of learning, goal-setting, behavior, respect for others, and participation in school and community

Indicator 2

The school is equitable, inclusive, and fosters heterogeneity where every student over the course of the high school experience is enrolled in a minimum of one heterogeneously grouped core course (English/language arts, social studies, math, science, or world languages).


What to Look for:

  • in accordance with current educational research, efforts to group students more heterogeneously and to eliminate tracking of students are evident

  • student transcripts will include information related to the number of ht=heterogeneously grouped courses each student has taken over the course of the high school experience in core academic courses (English Language Arts, social studies, math, science, world languages)

  • a school’s Program of Studies will identify which courses are heterogeneously grouped

  • student grouping patterns ensure that all students, regardless of ability level, have challenging learning experiences which enable them to achieve the school’s learning expectations

  • committees which are responsible for making decisions related to future grouping practices use current research and practice in making those decisions

  • inclusion models and other special education strategies have been investigated to ensure that all students, including those with learning disabilities, have equal access to the same curriculum and are assisted in achieving school-wide expectations

  • there is diversity of enrollment in all courses so that students considered to be part of a minority population are not homogeneously grouped

Indicator 3

There is a formal, on-going program(s) or process(es) through which each student has an adult in the school, in addition to the school counselor, who knows the student well and assists the student in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations.

What to Look for:

  • to foster personalization and reduce the sense of anonymity felt by many high school students, the school has a formal program which provides regular contact to connect each student with an adult member of the school community in addition to the school counselor

  • each student is assigned an advisor/advocate/mentor (in addition to the school counselor) who is charged with supporting every aspect of the student’s educational experience (e.g., advocates meet regularly with their students, generally in groups of ten or so, throughout the year and often will be assigned to work with the same students for all four years; advocates routinely call parents to keep them informed about the progress of their students in meeting all learning expectations; advocates serve as the prime facilitator of a personal learning plan for each student; and advocates develop a rapport with students so that students feel comfortable in seeking their assistance

  • advocates are generally teachers and other professional members of the staff (e.g., the principal, guidance counselors, nurse, curriculum leaders), but secretaries, custodians, and other staff members can act as advocates (i.e., to enhance their roles as members of the school community who are concerned about students and to reduce the ratio of students to adult advocates)

  • the school provides additional opportunities for adult members of the school comm8nity to get to know students well (e.g., adults collaborate with students on school-related projects; adults serve as mentors for senior projects; teams of teachers work with the same group of students)

Indicator 4

In order to improve student learning through professional development, the principal and professional staff:

  •  engage in professional discourse for reflection, inquiry, and analysis of teaching and learning

  •   use resources outside of the school to maintain currency with best practices

  •   dedicate formal time to implement professional development 

  •   apply the skills, practices, and ideas gained in order to improve curriculum, instruction, and  assessment.
     

What to Look for:

  • a collaborative spirit of reflection and inquiry exists within the faculty evidenced by ongoing conversations, both formal (e.g., within departments and across departments, professional learning communities, critical friends groups, data teams, common planning time, meetings of teams, peer-coaching sessions, study groups, etc.) and informal (e.g., at lunch tables, over coffee in the faculty room, in the hallways between classes, etc.)

  • teachers routinely engage in conversations about learning expectations, consistent grading standards, quality of student work, instructional practices, and curriculum revision

  • teachers have available professional readings and routinely discuss current research and best practice

  • a faculty reads the same professional book and has a book-club style discussion of its merits

  • teachers seek each other out for discussion about topics related to teaching and learning

  • school leaders promote discussion of student learning and well-being by sharing literature on best practices, providing regular opportunities for professional development, providing meeting time for teachers

  • teachers visit other schools to observe programs of interest

  • teachers attend conferences and programs which enhance their teaching strategies in specific content areas

Indicator 5

School leaders regularly use research-based evaluation and supervision processes that focus on improved student learning.


What to Look for:

  • the supervision/evaluation process is thoughtfully designed and plays an integral role in instructional improvement (i.e., the process is not a perfunctory set of classroom visits and observation reports); it is based upon research into effective approaches for improving teacher practice

  • school leaders have had training in research-based supervision and evaluation processes as well as whole school practices

  • the process used is clearly linked to the improvement of student learning and meeting the needs of all students

  • data is gathered which demonstrates that instructional improvement results from the supervision/evaluation process

  • supervisors/evaluators (including any peer mentors) are well-trained in the particular model being used

Indicator 6

The organization of time supports research-based instruction, professional collaboration among teachers, and the learning needs of all students.


What to Look for:

  • thoughtful review of the master schedule occurs at least every five years, if not annually, to ensure that it best supports the school’s core values and beliefs about learning

  • variations to traditional six, seven, and eight period schedules of 45-55 minute periods have been considered to allow longer blocks of instructional time to promote student engagement, in-depth exploration of topics, project-based learning

  • the schedule supports implementation of effective instructional practices (e.g., collaborative learning, team-teaching, etc.)

  • the schedule supports alternative assessments (e.g., performances, authentic applications, debates, field experiences)

  • the schedule allows for the flexible use of time

  • there is formal time set aside on a regular basis for teachers to collaborate (e.g., in PLC groups) and with the use of a protocol for discussion, for the review of student work, for data analysis

  • alternatives to departmental content-based structures are considered if they can better address the goals of interdisciplinary curriculum design and teaching or other school-wide learning expectations

  • the organization of the school’s curriculum supports the schools core values and beliefs about learning

  • the size of the school supports and enhances student personalization; when appropriate, smaller learning communities (e.g., teams, clusters, houses, pathways, academies) are implemented as a means of breaking the larger school into more personalized units

  • students who can be better served in school programs that meet in the afternoon, evening, summer, or during a longer school year or who need additional practices to achieve learning expectations are provided these opportunities

Indicator 7

Student load and class size enable teachers to meet the learning needs of individual students.


What to Look for:

  • student loads enable teachers to meet the needs of individual students, to provide sufficient personalization, and to ensure student achievement of the school-wide expectations

  • class size policies and actual class size numbers ensure that sufficient personalization and individual attention can be provided to develop creative options that will alleviate the problem (e.g., schedule changes, course integration, resource reallocation, team-teaching, teacher aides, etc.)

  • when class sizes and student loads are excessive, efforts are made to develop creative options that will alleviate the problem (e.g., schedule changes, course integration, resource reallocation, team-teaching, teacher aides, etc.)

  • class sizes allow each student to learn in a safe atmosphere where students can frequently participate and take risks

Indicator 8

The principal, working with other building leaders, provides instructional leadership that is rooted in the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations.


What to Look for:

  • the principal is a visible force in the building, modeling and “living” the school’s core values and beliefs about learning

  • important decisions made by the principal are made in consultation with other building leaders, reflect the school’s core values and beliefs about learning, support every student’s learning, and are perceived as consistent and fair

  • the primary focus of the principal’s time is on teaching and learning (e.g., formal and informal conversations with teachers and students are about teaching and learning; faculty meetings are focused on teaching and learning with agendas and discussions that promote improved teaching and learning; the principal spends time in classrooms watching teachers teach and students learn; school leadership team meeting agendas are focused on teaching and learning goals and priorities)

  • the principal shows students that their learning is paramount (e.g., academic success is highlighted more frequently than athletic success; students are interviewed for their perspective on the quality of teaching they are receiving; the principal asks random groups of students to share their portfolios for review)

  • when major issues arise in the school, the principal addresses the faculty and students to express concern and to ensure that communication is direct and consistent

  • the principal ensures that a safe and orderly environment exists and takes necessary steps to deal with conflicts, student threats, outside forces that may jeopardize the health and welfare of students

  • the principal provides opportunities for other leaders in the school to assist in promoting examples listed earlier in this section

  • stakeholders can cite examples of communications, activities, decision of the principal’s instructional leadership that relate to the school’s core values and beliefs about learning

  • teachers and students are very clear about the school’s core values and beliefs

Indicator 9

Teachers, students, and parents are involved in meaningful and defined roles in decision-making that promote responsibility and ownership.


What to Look for:

  • the principal models accessibility and openness to feedback from students, faculty, staff members, and parents

  • the principal offers regular coffee hours, lunch time chats, and other forums to allow the voice of all constituents to be heard

  • formal mechanisms are in place to provide decision-making roles for students, teachers, and parents (e.g., faculty councils, steering committees, community councils, school improvement teams)

  • surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, and other vehicles are used regularly to collect data/feedback from all constituents which become part of the decision-making process

  • parents, students, and staff members serve on committees that advise the principal and make decisions that improve teaching and learning

  • when group decisions are made, the faculty as a whole, joins on board to support a decision

Indicator 10

Teachers exercise initiative and leadership essential to the improvement of the school and to increase students’ engagement in learning.


What to Look for:

  • teachers and administrators, other than the principal, serve on and are actively engaged in leading committees that review and revise curriculum, assessment strategies, instructional practices, and school organization practices

  • teachers and administrators, other than the principal, take the initiative to maintain currency through professional development, collaboration, research

  • teachers and administrators, other than the principal, act as curriculum coordinators, department leaders, instructional coordinators, team leaders, and in other formal roles that support school improvement

  • teachers and administrators, or then the principal, regularly recommend new initiatives or ideas that are implemented and will improve the overall climate and life of the school

  • teachers and administrators are more often found offering solutions to concerns rather than lamenting the facts of problems the school might face

Indicator 11

The school board, superintendent, and principal are collaborative, reflective, and constructive in achieving the school’s 21st century learning expectations.


What to Look for:

  • minutes and video-tapes of school board meetings illustrate cooperation and collaboration, good listening and speaking skills, between members of the school board, the superintendent and school leaders

  • annual goals established by the school board at is annual summer retreat which includes central office and building level administrators reflect the school’s 21st century learning expectations

Indicator 12

The school board and superintendent provide the principal with sufficient decision-making authority to lead the school.


What to Look for:

  • the formal job description of the principal defines clearly the responsibilities related to teaching and learning and ensuring the school community’s core values and beliefs about learning are upheld

  • interviews with the principal, faculty, parents, the superintendent, and school board indicate the principal has been given authority by the superintendent and school to make important decisions about the school

  • district leaders and the school board seek the wisdom of the principal around important policy decisions and with regard to budget formulation

  • the principal supports teaching and learning needs and provides focus on the school’s learning expectations so that all students can achieve them

Rating Guide

The Commission has developed a set of rating guides to be used with each of the Standards for Accreditation.  Schools who are engaged in the self-study process use the rating guides as they assess their adherence to each of the Standards.  As well, after they have met with students, parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in the school, visiting committee teams use the rating guides to assess the school's adherence to the Standards   Finally, the Commission uses the rating guides as they make decisions about a school's accreditation status.

Standard 5 Rating Guide (pdf)

Bibliography

In the process of reviewing/rewriting the Standards a purposeful commitment was made by the Commission to cite current research and best practice in support of the concepts within each of the Standards and the Indicators. Both the Commission and the Commission staff encourage member schools to access the bibliography throughout the decennial cycle. Funding for this work was provided through a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for which the Commission is deeply appreciative.

References for Standard 5

Standard 6

School Resources for Learning

Student learning and well-being are dependent upon adequate and appropriate support. The school is responsible for providing an effective range of coordinated programs and services. These resources enhance and improve student learning and well-being and support the school's core values and beliefs. Student support services enable each student to achieve the school's 21st century learning expectations.

Indicator 1

The school has timely, coordinated, and directive intervention strategies for all students, including identified and at-risk students, that support each student’s achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations.


What to Look for:

  • all support services personnel engage in practices consistent with the school's core, values, and beliefs about its 21st century skills

  • educational practices like inclusion allow all students to be placed in mainstream classes to ensure equal access to the curriculum

  • the course catalog indicates that coursework involves inquiry, higher level thinking, and problem solving and is available to all students

  • sudents develop graduation plans that ensure they achieve the expectations; counselors encourage students to participate in activities related to social and civic expectations, such as community service)

  • classroom teachers view support services personnel as integral to the success of students in meeting learning expectations and regularly seek out their support and advice

Indicator 2

The school provides information to families, especially to those most in need, about available student support services.


What to Look for:

  • there is a clear system in place to communicate the various types of available student support services to parents/guardians, such as through monthly newsletters, open houses, and evening presentations

  • regular forums for parents and staff are held to provide information about social/emotional issues facing their children/students and strategies that are effective in addressing these issues

  • efforts are made jointly between the school and community agencies to publicize and make accessible such services as suicide hotlines, birth control and pregnancy support, drug and alcohol prevention, eating disorder support, etc.

Indicator 3

Support services staff use technology to deliver an effective range of coordinated services for each student.


What to Look for:

  • technology resources, particularly computer hardware/software, and other electronic media are widely available and used by student support services professional staff in providing comprehensive guidance, health, special education, and health services

  • technology resources particularly computer hardware/software and other electronic resources are used for developing and maintaining grade reports, transcripts, special education and 504 plans, and student health records

Indicator 4

School counseling services have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff (see Guideline on Counselor/Counselee Caseload) who:

What to Look for:

  • deliver a written, developmental program

    • the guidance curriculum supports the school’s core values, beliefs, and expectations about learning

  • meet regularly with students to provide personal, academic, career, and college counseling

    • all students have access to comprehensive counseling services which include personal, academic, career, and college counseling

    • all guidance counselors meet at least once a year individually with their assigned students

  • engage in individual and group meetings with all students

    • the school provides both individual counseling as well as group counseling to support students in dealing with such issues as divorce, pregnancy, family alcoholism, sexual or physical abuse, death of family members

    • special programs are brought into the school to promote student well-being such as health fairs, speakers on eating disorders, a play on date rape

    • counselors run group meetings to discuss specific academic, social or emotional issues. Discussions include topics such as: future college or career choices, issues related to having a deceased parent, difficulty relating and communicating with peers

  • deliver collaborative outreach and referral to community and mental health agencies and social service providers

    • school personnel have established a collaborative outreach with appropriate mental health agencies, social service providers and other community agencies

    • community agencies collaboratively engage in supporting the school's efforts to address the social, emotional, and physical needs of students (e.g., drug and alcohol counseling programs establish partnerships with the school for both prevention and intervention efforts; the police department provides a youth officer to work directly with the school; a student assistance counselor, funded jointly by the school and local agencies, works within the school)

  • use ongoing, relevant assessment data, including feedback from the school improve community, to improve services and ensure each student’s achievement of the schools’ 21st learning expectations

    • regular feedback from students, parents, and teachers is collected as one basis for evaluating and improving the various student support services

    • support services personnel continually make improvements to their programs and services throughout the year based on feedback and self-assessments

    • counselors and the supervisors/administrators of the counseling program meet on at least a yearly basis to review the services provided and to make needed program revisions

    • the school has established clear evaluation standards for the counseling services and programs that are related to the school’s 21 st learning expectations, and the school assesses the success of these programs in promoting student learning

Indicator 5

The school's health services have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff (See Guideline on Health Services) who:

• emergency response plans are written, known by everyone in the building, and are able to be activated in a moment’s notice
• student health records are available to health service providers and kept in locked and confidential files

 

What to Look for:

  • provide preventative health services and direct intervention services

    •  preventative and intervention services are available throughout the school day

  • use an appropriate referral process

    • a process is in place for teachers, staff members, and administrators to make appropriate referrals

  • conduct ongoing student health assessments

    • regular student health assessments are performed at school and all important medical information is maintained 

  • use ongoing, relevant assessment data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieves the school’s 21st century learning expectations

    • regular feedback from students, parents, and teachers is collected as one basis for evaluating and improving the delivery of health services

    • health services personnel continually make improvements to their programs and services throughout the year based on feedback and self-assessments

    • health services personnel and the supervisors/administrators of the program meet on at least a yearly basis to review the services provided and to make needed program revisions

    • the school has established clear evaluation standards for each of the health services and programs that are related to the school-wide expectations, and the school assesses the success of these programs in promoting student learning

Indicator 6

Library/media services are integrated into curriculum and instructional practices and have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff (see Guideline on School Librarian/Media Specialist) who:

What to Look for:

  • are actively engaged in the implementation of the school's curriculum

    • library programs and materials are aligned with the curriculum

    • teachers are involved in making decisions about the selection of materials for the library/media center so that the resources available best meet their curricular and instructional needs

    • teachers regularly use library/media services and the media center to support instruction

    • library/media services personnel are knowledgeable about and provide support in meeting the school's core values and beliefs for student learning

    • the core values and beliefs, about 21 st century learning expectations document is used to inform decisions about library programs and materials

    • library/media services personnel are instructors of the library information literacy curriculum

    • library/media services personnel are regularly involved in team meetings, department meetings, etc. where they become informed about curriculum and participate in evaluating and revising the curriculum based upon the feedback they hear and the experiences they share with students

    • library/media services personnel work with classroom teachers to ensure students have access to resources which support the curriculum

    • teachers regularly bring their students to the library/information center or enable student access to information resources by other means (e.g., Internet) in support of the curriculum

  • provide a wide range of materials, technologies, and other information services in support of the school's curriculum

    • the print collection supports all areas of the curriculum

    • technology resources (particularly computer hardware/software) and other electronic media are widely available and integral to teaching in all classrooms

    • non-print resources (e.g., CD ROM’s, DVD’s, ) are available and are regularly integrated into the curriculum

    • materials selected reflect the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the student body and are of interest to students

    • resources are available to meet all students’ learning needs (e.g., books at various reading levels, books on tape, etc.)

  • ensure that the facility is available and staffed for students and teachers before, during, and after school

    • sufficient staffing is provided to allow the library/media center to be open before, during, and after school; information about such access is prominently and clearly publicized to members of the school community

    • there is sufficient space and technology available to accommodate simultaneous use of the library/media center by groups and by individuals

  • are responsive to students' interests and needs in order to support independent learning

    • students are welcomed in the library/information center at any time during the day when they are not scheduled to be in a particular classroom or when they have been sent to the center by a faculty member

    • library/media services personnel encourage students to participate in independent inquiry by assisting them in utilizing resources and technology housed in the library/media center

  • conduct ongoing assessment using relevant data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieves the school’s 21st century learning expectations

    • regular feedback from students, parents, and teachers is collected as one basis for evaluating and improving library/media services

    • library/media services personnel continually make improvements to their programs and services throughout the year based on feedback and self-assessments

    • library/media personnel and the supervisors/administrators of these programs meet on at least a yearly basis to review the services provided and to make needed program revisions

    • the school has established clear evaluation standards for the library/media services and programs that are related to the school’s 21 st century learning expectations, and the school assesses the success of these programs in promoting student learning

Indicator 7

Support services for identified students, including special education, Section 504 of the ADA, and English language learners, have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff who:

What to Look for:

  • collaborate with all teachers, counselors, targeted services, and other support staff in order to achieve the school's 21st century learning expectations

  • provide inclusive learning opportunities for all students

  • perform ongoing assessment using relevant data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieves the school’s 21st century learning expectations

    • special education teachers provide support to mainstream teachers by meeting with them on a regular basis

    • teachers are provided with training on how to utilize support services to benefit students (e.g., how to refer a student for testing, counseling, etc.)

Rating Guide

The Commission has developed a set of rating guides to be used with each of the Standards for Accreditation.  Schools who are engaged in the self-study process use the rating guides as they assess their adherence to each of the Standards.  As well, after they have met with students, parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in the school, visiting committee teams use the rating guides to assess the school's adherence to the Standards   Finally, the Commission uses the rating guides as they make decisions about a school's accreditation status. 

Standard 6 Rating Guide (pdf)

Bibliography

In the process of reviewing/rewriting the Standards a purposeful commitment was made by the Commission to cite current research and best practice in support of the concepts within each of the Standards and the Indicators. Both the Commission and the Commission staff encourage member schools to access the bibliography throughout the decennial cycle. Funding for this work was provided through a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for which the Commission is deeply appreciative.

References for Standard 6

Standard 7

Community Resources for Learning

The achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations requires active community, governing board, and parent advocacy. Through dependable and adequate funding, the community provides the personnel, resources, and facilities to support the delivery of curriculum, instruction, programs, and services.

Indicator 1

The community and the district’s governing body provide dependable funding for:

  • a wide range of school programs and services

  • sufficient professional and support staff

  • ongoing professional development and curriculum revision

  • a full range of technology support

  • sufficient equipment

  • sufficient instructional materials and supplies.

 

What to Look for:

  • the school assesses a full-range of budget priorities annually which take into account the school’s educational programs and services, staffing levels, curriculum processes, professional development, instructional materials and supplies, technology, and equipment

  • the school uses data about student 21st century learning expectations to make budgetary decisions

  • annual budget planning solicits feedback from parents and other community members in the early stages in order to determine school needs and to generate broad-based community support

  • the budget planning process focuses on balancing the need for adequate program and services support with that of fiscal responsibility

  • broad-based communication efforts are made to generate awareness of budget needs, of meetings being held to present the budget, and of the process to be used to vote on the budget

  • the school and district administrators and the district’s governing body provide authoritative and proactive leadership in preparing, presenting, and generating support for passage of the budget

  • similar leadership and proactive planning are provided in determining the need for and the passage of necessary bond issues and/or capital expenditures

  • as the result of the actions above, annual budgets are generally passed with substantial support of the community

Indicator 2

The school develops, plans and funds programs:

  • to ensure the maintenance and repair of building and school plant

  • to properly maintain, catalogue, and replace equipment

  • to keep the school clean on a daily basis.
     

What to Look for:

  • the school provides the equipment necessary to meet instructional and facility needs

  • the annual operating budget is adequate to fund the routine maintenance and upkeep of the school building and plant

  • clear responsibilities for the maintenance and monitoring of equipment are designated to appropriate personnel (e.g. maintenance director, head custodian for maintenance equipment; audio-visual coordinator for projectors, etc.; technology coordinator for computers, scanners, etc.)

  • regular maintenance and replacement schedules and cataloguing systems are in place for all furniture and equipment, both instructional and administrative according to a district plan

  • a manager/supervisor of facilities and maintenance oversees the planning and supervision of the maintenance program including the purchasing of adequate supplies, materials, and equipment and the hiring, training, and management of personnel

  • a formal plan/schedule is in place for the regular maintenance and repair of facilities and equipment and for the ongoing cleaning of the facility

  • adequate personnel are in place to ensure that equipment and facilities are well-maintained

  • sufficient funds are provided for the necessary personnel, supplies, materials, and equipment to ensure adequate site and facility maintenance and cleanliness

  • members of the school community express satisfaction with the maintenance and cleanliness of the facility

Indicator 3

The community funds and the school implements a long-range e plan that addresses:

  • programs and services

  • enrollment changes and staffing needs

  • facility needs

  • technology

  • capital improvements.
     

What to Look for:

  • adequate long-range plans to address programs, staffing, and facility needs as well as capital improvements

  • a strategic long-range plan designed jointly by the school board, administrators, and teachers with involvement by parents, students, and community members delineates future needs in the areas noted above for a five year period

  • the long-range plan identifies chronological steps to be used to address these needs

  • the school uses data to inform regular, thoughtful program planning

  • a formal record-keeping system tracks yearly school enrollment with breakdowns by course and department (or other organizational structure) as well as staffing allocations to provide the data necessary for appropriate planning

  • necessary bond proposals and other mechanisms needed to raise and provide revenue for capital projects are prepared and presented in a timely and efficient manner

  • a formal multi-year technology plan that addresses the needs, costs, and strategic purchasing of technology including computers, software, LCD’s SmartBoards, Promethean Boards, has been developed, is being implemented, and is reviewed and revised on an annual, if not more frequent basis

Indicator 4

Faculty and building administrators are actively involved in the development and and implementation of the budget.


What to Look for:

Do faculty and building administrators have a strong voice in the budgetary process including its development and implementation?

  • a formal process is in place for soliciting feedback from teachers and other staff members about budget needs (e.g., department request processes, site-based budget committees, faculty governing councils or steering committees)

  • school instructional leaders (e.g., department heads, deans of faculty, academic coordinators) as well as the principal and other administrators are called upon to make budget requests and to develop the budget

  • instructional leaders and administrators are called upon to speak publicly on behalf of the school budget and to justify requested expenditures

  • school instructional leaders and administrators are delegated the responsibility for allocating and spending the major proportion of monies designated for teaching and learning purposes

  • school instructional leaders and administrators are given current, up-to-date information on the status of budget allocations throughout the school year

Indicator 5

The school site and plant shall support the delivery of high quality school programs and services.


What to Look for:

Are the school site and plant sufficient to enhance all aspects of the educational program?

  • adequate and appropriate space is provided to ensure full implementation of the educational program (e.g., science labs, media/information center, sufficient number of classrooms, performing arts areas, cafeteria, and storage areas, etc.)

  • adequate space is provided for the school administration and for student support services (e.g., administrative offices and private conference areas, private conference rooms for special education and guidance personnel, sound-proofed offices for guidance counselors and social workers, appropriate nursing space which provide student privacy and confidentiality, etc.)

  • the school site provides adequate space for outdoor physical education classes and athletic activities; for safe and secure parking for teachers, parents, students, and guests; for fire drills; and for the general entrance, egress, and outdoor recreation of students

  • the school plant/facility is able to adequately support all school programs unless suitable alternative space has been provided

  • the school plant/facility ensures the health, well-being and safety of all occupants

Indicator 6

The school maintains documentation that the physical plant and facilities meet all applicable federal and state laws and are in compliance with local fire, health, and safety regulations.


What to Look for:

Does the school maintain up-to-date documentation to ensure the school plant and facilities are well-maintained and provide an environment that is healthy and safe for all occupants and meet all applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations?

  • the plant and facility provides documentation to ensure meet that all applicable federal and state laws and are monitored by the administration (including the storage of chemicals, lists of all chemicals housed in the facility, the maintenance of fire alarms, and fire extinguishers, etc.)

  • ventilation, temperature control, and air quality are regularly checked and meet all local and state health requirements throughout the facility

  • the entire facility is handicapped accessible

  • when the plant and/or other facilities are not in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, the school makes immediate plans to address the problems including necessary repairs and modifications or the use of temporary alternative facilities

  • adequate supplies, materials, equipment, and personnel are provided to ensure that the site and plant are safe, healthy, clean, and well-maintained

  • comments and complaints about school maintenance as it relates to issues of health or safety are regularly solicited from teachers, students, et al. and are acted upon in a timely manner

  • the facility is clean and equipment is well-maintained; any school equipment that is found to be unsafe is immediately removed and repaired

  • requests for repairs are addressed in a timely manner

  • custodial staff and the outdoor maintenance crew are sufficient in number to meet all local fire, health, and safety regulations with regular checks conducted yearly and proper documentation maintained

Indicator 7

All professional staff actively engage parents and families as partners in each student’s education and reach out specifically to those families who have been less connected with the school.
 

What to Look for:

Are students and their families actively engaged as partners in the students’ education as well as encouraged to participate in school programs and activities?

  • teachers and administrators engage in outreach efforts to engage parents in the scholastic lives of their sons and daughters (e.g., frequent parent forums and seminars, invitations to open houses and parent coffees, parent support groups, calls to the home by teachers, etc.) and to attend co-curricular activities and other events their students participate

  • teachers and administrators work collaboratively with parent and community organizations to increase meaningful outreach strategies to parents who are less connected with the school

  • parents are regularly contacted and involved in conferences regarding the learning needs of their children

  • site-based councils or other forms of school governance encourage parent involvement and input

  • parents are involved as tutors, lecturers, and aides within the school

  • parents are invited to programs which showcase student work, to roundtable presentations of student portfolios, etc.

  • students participate in parent/teacher conferences which deal with their learning needs and progress

  • parents are informed about all programs and services available to their students

Indicator 8

The school develops productive parent, business/community/and higher education partnerships that support student learning.


What to Look for:

Are productive parent, business, community, and higher education partnerships in place that support student learning and enable students to see the real-world applications of what they are learning?

  • the school has created formal business and industry partnerships which are consistent with its core values and beliefs about learning and which provide students with opportunities for job shadowing, mentoring, internships, apprenticeships, school-to-career, and summer employment

  • parents regularly serve as partners on committees which support the school’s educational program and services

  • local business and industry leaders play an integral role in planning and implementing school-to-career programs

  • partnerships with local adolescent/community groups support and supplement the regular school program (e.g., local community education sites are available; the YMCA supports a homework helper program; etc.)

  • local colleges and the school are engaged in conversations about how the high school can improve curriculum and instruction in order to better prepare students to succeed in college

  • high school students are able to take courses at local colleges and universities

  • local college partnerships are established to support professional development programs at the high school level for faculty members through training opportunities, granting of credit for in-service experiences, etc.

  • partnerships with teacher education programs have been established to engage student teachers and interns in the high school as added instructional support

  • students are encouraged to participate in real-world activities that link classroom knowledge with authentic application

Rating Guide

The Commission has developed a set of rating guides to be used with each of the Standards for Accreditation. Schools who are engaged in the self-study process use the rating guides as they assess their adherence to each of the Standards. As well, after they have met with students, parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in the school, visiting committee teams use the rating guides to assess the school's adherence to the Standards   Finally, the Commission uses the rating guides as they make decisions about a school's accreditation status. 

Standard 7 Rating Guide (pdf)

Bibliography

In the process of reviewing/rewriting the Standards a purposeful commitment was made by the Commission to cite current research and best practice in support of the concepts within each of the Standards and the Indicators. Both the Commission and the Commission staff encourage member schools to access the bibliography throughout the decennial cycle. Funding for this work was provided through a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for which the Commission is deeply appreciative.

References for Standard 7

Download (pdf)

2011 Standards - Bibliography

The Commission is pleased to provide an extensive bibliography developed specifically for the 2011 Standards for Accreditation. You will find references listed for each Standard. In the process of reviewing/rewriting the Standards a purposeful commitment was made by the Commission to cite current research and best practice in support of the concepts within each of the Standards and the Indicators.

Both the Commission and the Commission staff encourage member schools to access the bibliography throughout the decennial cycle. Funding for this work was provided through a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for which the Commission is deeply appreciative.