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Standard 1 - Learning Culture

Learning Culture promotes shared values and responsibility for achieving the school’s vision.

The school provides a safe learning culture that ensures equity and fosters shared values among learners, educators, families, and members of the school community. These shared values drive student learning as well as policy, practice, and decision-making while promoting a spirit of collaboration, shared ownership, pride, leadership, social responsibility, and civic engagement. The school community sets high standards for student learning, fosters a growth mindset, and facilitates continuous school improvement to realize the school’s core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate.

Principles of Effective Practice

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1.1 The school community provides a safe, positive, respectful, and inclusive culture that ensures equity and honors diversity in identity and thought.

Descriptors of Effective Practice

The school community:

  • provides a physically, emotionally, and intellectually safe environment for learners and adults
  • demonstrates a culture of learning focused on the strengths of both students and adults
  • creates policies and protocols to define and support respectful treatment of all members of the school community
  • ensures all learners are known and valued and have equitable access to a full range of school programs and services
  • identifies learning gaps and social disparities and develops programs and initiatives to address them
  • ensures individuality among all community members is a positive opportunity for extended learning and growth
  • actively emphasizes and strengthens understanding of, and commitment to, equity and diversity
  • supports a diversity of opinion and personal experience. 

1.1a Foundational Element - The school community provides a safe environment.

Descriptors of Effective Practice

The school community:

  • deliberately builds and maintains a physically safe environment for learners and adults
  • maintains policies and processes to ensure the safety of learners and adults.

1.2 The school’s core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate drive student learning, professional practices, learning support, and the provision and allocation of learning resources.

Descriptors of Effective Practice

The school community:

  • engages in a dynamic, collaborative, and inclusive process informed by current research and best practices to identify, commit to, and regularly review and revise its core values and beliefs about learning
  • develops a vision of the graduate that includes the attainment of transferable skills, knowledge, understandings, and dispositions necessary for future success
  • ensures the school’s core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate are known and understood by all members of the school community
  • ensures the core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate are actively reflected in the school culture and drive curriculum, instruction, and assessment in every classroom
  • ensures the core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate promote a commitment to continuous improvement and guide the school’s policies, procedures, decisions, and resource allocations. 

1.2a Foundational Element - The school has a written document describing its core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate.

Descriptors of Effective Practice

The school community:

  • has a written document describing its core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate.

1.3 The school community takes collective responsibility for the intellectual, physical, social, and emotional well-being of every student and can demonstrate how each student is known, valued, and connected to the school community.

Descriptors of Effective Practice

The school community:

  • maintains and supports high expectations for all students
  • is focused on providing a balance of academic, social, and civic opportunities to meet the needs of diverse learners
  • helps students develop the skills necessary to achieve a positive school/life balance
  • has a plan and services in place to identify and support the social and emotional needs of students
  • ensures that each student is known by an adult mentor in the school, or through some other formal process, to assist him or her in achieving the school’s vision of the graduate
  • has a broad commitment to all areas of learning
  • acknowledges the importance of and assists in building each student’s readiness to learn.
  • demonstrates the value it has for all learners through its instruction and assessment practices
  • ensures that classroom educators and support staff share responsibility for struggling learners.

1.4 The school community’s professional culture demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement through the use of research, collaborative learning, innovation, and reflection.

Descriptors of Effective Practice

The school community’s professional culture:

  • embodies a spirit of continuous improvement
  • promotes the use of innovative methods to achieve common goals
  • demonstrates a commitment to research-based instruction and reflective practice
  • promotes ongoing and authentic formal and informal collaboration
  • commits to a sense of ownership and responsibility for achieving the school’s core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate
  • demonstrates a growth mindset
  • creates the conditions and trust necessary for the full and active participation of all educators
  • supports educators in maintaining expertise in their content area and in content-specific instructional practices
  • values educators as collaborative problem solvers, curriculum creators, and co-learners
  • emphasizes the use of evidence-based research, reflective practice, data, and feedback to improve learners’ educational experiences
  • uses ongoing and relevant assessment data, including feedback from the school community, to improve school programs and services
  • has a formal process for evaluating programs and services.

1.5 The school’s culture promotes intellectual risk taking and personal and professional growth.

Descriptors of Effective Practice

The school culture:

  • is dynamic and vibrant with a shared sense of agency and responsibility
  • ensures learners and educators understand that learning from mistakes is an important part of intellectual and personal growth
  • promotes norms and protocols that support respectful discourse, including diverse perspectives, experimentation, innovation, and a disposition to listen well and learn from others
  • emphasizes the importance of persistence and opportunities for revision of student work.

1.6 The school has an inclusive definition of leadership and provides school leaders with the authority and responsibility to improve student learning.

Descriptors of Effective Practice

The school community:

  • ensures the principal, working with other building leaders, provides instructional leadership that sets high standards for student achievement and fosters a growth mindset
  • ensures school leaders facilitate school improvement efforts to realize the school’s core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate
  • involves educators, students, and families in meaningful and defined roles in decision-making that promote responsibility and ownership
  • encourages educators to exercise initiative, innovation, and leadership essential to the improvement of the school and to increase students’ engagement in learning
  • ensures the school board, superintendent, and principal are collaborative, reflective, and constructive
  • ensures the principal is given appropriate decision-making authority to lead the school.

1.7 The school culture fosters civic engagement and social and personal responsibility.

Descriptors of Effective Practice

The school culture:

  • encourages social awareness, upstanding behavior, and fair and respectful treatment of all
  • relies on the democratic values of agency, civil dialogue, adjusting thinking in the face of new information, equality, and a commitment to the common good to inform the curriculum, characterize classroom behavior, and guide school governance
  • encourages learning experiences that connect to or make an impact on the community beyond the school campus.

2020 Standards for Accreditation

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