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In Canada, education is provincially mandated, and CAIS Schools are required to meet Ministry requirements.
However, CAIS schools provide more. Our National Standards and Procedures are congruent with the internationally accepted criteria and model core standards adopted by the International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA) and updated annually based on current research and exceptional practices. The Standards Council of the CAIS Board reviews and approves all changes to the Accreditation Guidelines.
The accreditation process can be broken down in four key sections
Over the course of 12 to 18 months, a school pursuing accreditation/reaccreditation will conduct an internal evaluation guided by the CAIS Accreditation Guidelines. These Guidelines contain Indicators of Effective Practice and guiding questions for each of the 12 National Standards.
The essence of this process is that the school, involving all of its constituents, examines all aspects of its program and operations against the National Standards and Effective Practices, seeking to discover its strengths, weaknesses, future strategic plans, and examining how well its program fulfils its mission.
If this process is done conscientiously and insightfully, the resulting document will clearly and accurately communicate the school’s current state and future goals to the Visiting Committee.
The on-site visit is a peer-review process. A Visiting Committee is assembled of school leaders and educators from similar CAIS schools who represent various areas of expertise and experience.
Working from the school’s Internal Evaluation, the Visiting Committee spends four days in the school meeting with the entire community including students, faculty and staff, parents, alumni and Board members. The Visiting Committee observes classes and all other activities of the school.
The Visiting Committee’s objective is to validate the school’s Internal Evaluation and challenge them to reflect on where there are opportunities for growth.
Each member of the Visiting Committee is responsible for investigating various Standards and Effective Practices within the school. Following the review, each Committee member writes on their assigned areas and the submissions are compiled into a Visiting Committee Report.
This report contains an overview of where the school stands in terms of each Effective Practice and offers commendations (what the school is doing exceptionally well), suggestions (best professional advice) and recommendations (areas of growth that require action by CAIS).
The Visiting Committee Report is provided to the Head of School, the Chair of the Board, and the CAIS Evaluation Council. The Evaluation Council reviews the report and advises the CAIS Board on its findings and a decision on accreditation.
The Visiting Committee report is finalized once the CAIS Board approves a decision on accreditation. At this time, the school is encouraged to communicate the results of the review with their community.
Following the decision on accreditation, a school will be asked to submit one of two reports:
Response to Standards Not Met - If it is determined that a school does meet one or more of the National Standards, they will be asked to submit this response report in a timeframe not to exceed one year.
Member schools - This Response to Standards Not Met Report should provide evidence to demonstrate that the school is working toward or meeting the Standard(s) not met. A member school may be asked to submit up to three Response to Standards Not Met reports.
Candidate schools - This Response to Standards Not Met Report should provide evidence to demonstrate that the school is meeting the Standard(s) not met. A Candidate school must meet all CAIS National Standards within one year of the accreditation review.
Response to Recommendations – This response report is prepared by all schools, approximately two years after the review. It will respond to all Recommendations in the Visiting Committee Report and should provide evidence to demonstrate that the school is working towards addressing the recommendations.