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Standards and Accreditation
CAIS is the mark of excellence in independent education. And we make that claim with the evidence to back it up. Our 12 Standards are vetted by the Standards Council of the Board and are recognized internationally by the NAIS International Commission on Accreditation.
Why 12 Standards?
The Standards we have established cover the range of key elements that most profoundly affect the quality of experience for students. CAIS continuously reviews not only the existing standards, but also the potential to add others as today’s schools evolve to meet the needs of 21st century learners. Our process is thorough and our search for excellence is never finished.
If a school is already accredited by the province or by another body such as I.B., why should I be concerned about CAIS accreditation?
Provincial standards are designed to meet the basic requirements that will enable students to progress. Other bodies, such as IB have established criteria as it relates directly to the delivery of their specific program elements. CAIS accreditation is all-encompassing – a peer-reviewed, exhaustive analysis of a school’s operations from the curriculum, to the quality of the teaching staff, to the governance of the board, to its financial management, safety standards, professional development and more. No other Canadian accreditation or standards organization in education is as complete or as thorough. These standards have been developed by the Canadian education community to meet the needs of Canadian students while also meeting best practice standards established in the international community.
What does a school have to do to meet CAIS standards?
Every seven years, a member school is scheduled for its evaluation. A team of professional educators visit the school for four days to research, inquire, observe and discuss the school’s performance based on the established criteria. The school will have prepared for this visit by gathering relevant documentation and key performance indicators, and making available staff, parents, students, or board members to answer questions from the team. A lengthy report is then prepared that will show where the school is in compliance with standards, or where it is not and why. The school then has up to 18 months to reach compliance in any areas where it fell short in order to maintain its full membership status with CAIS. The real value in this exercise is often the opportunity for self-reflection and strategic thinking that the schools themselves undertake both in the preparation for the review as well as its aftermath.
What if a school I’m looking at is not accredited by CAIS? Is it inferior?
Not necessarily. It means that this school has, for any number of reasons decided not to undergo this review process, or it has applied and was determined to not yet meet the necessary standards. A school that meets CAIS standards has been thoroughly reviewed and you can have confidence that the highest standards have been achieved. It is a question you should ask in your search.
Does CAIS play any other role for the independent education community?
Absolutely. In addition to the accreditation process, CAIS is the national voice for independent education both in Canada as well as internationally where our member boarding schools recruit students to join our diverse communities. We also provide an opportunity for schools from coast to coast to link together in conversation, activities, the exchange of ideas, and the generation of new ways of thinking about learning. Our professional development program continues to grow reaching out to teachers, administrators and governors. There are myriad ways in CAIS plays a vital role for our member schools, which in turn, helps improve the quality of the experience in each school for everyone.