SACSCASI. August 21-22, Joe Smith, Principal, Sample School Mary Anderson, Chairperson, SAIS - SACS Team

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1 Note: This is a sample report designed to provide team chairs with a quick review of the components of the web-based report. The formatting of the report is done automatically through the web-based system. The team chair will be prompted to provide information that will populate the pre-formatted report. The information in black is in the system and is not generated by the team chair. The information in red is provided by the team chair during the online completion of the report. A few sample commendations, recommendations, and one sample standard narrative are included in this document. A completed report would have more than what is provided here. The intent of this sample is to give a flavor of what a completed report would look like. The chair and team are primarily responsibility for providing the commendations, recommendations, and standards narratives. Worksheets are provided and available on the QAR Team Resources and Tools webpage to aid the chair and team in preparing these components of the report. Joe Smith, Principal, Sample School Mary Anderson, Chairperson, SAIS - SACS Team August 21-22, 2007 SACSCASI Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Administered and managed by the Southern Association of Independent Schools Quality Assurance Review Report 1

2 Table of Contents About SAIS and SACS CASI Introduction to the Quality Assurance Review Summary of Findings Commendations Recommendations Next Steps Review of AdvancED Standards for Quality Schools Vision and Purpose Governance and Leadership Teaching and Learning Documenting and Using Results Resource and Support Systems Stakeholder Communications and Relationships Commitment to Continuous Improvement Conclusion Appendix Quality Assurance Review Team Members SAIS - SACS Standards for Quality Schools Quality Assurance Review Report 2

3 A History of SAIS-SACS Accreditation SAIS and SACS member schools are part of a remarkable history of quality assurance in education. SAIS began its organizational life in 1903 as the Mid-South Association of Independent Schools, providing training for teachers in private schools and some early public schools in the southeastern states. In 1953, another organization began as the Southern Association of Independent Schools, providing a forum for independent school administrators to work with public schools through SACS and to contribute to the larger interest in accreditation in the southeast. MAIS and SAIS merged in 1986 to form the present SAIS, with an emphasis on accreditation through SACS for independent schools and professional development for administrators, trustees, and teachers. Today, SAIS works to help both established and emerging schools approach these issues with creativity and innovation. Working at the state, regional, and national levels, SAIS serves and strengthens member schools through the promotion of the highest quality educational standards and ethical conduct. Established in 1895, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (commonly referred to as SACS) is a non-governmental, voluntary organization that accredits more than 13,000 public and non-public institutions from early childhood through university. Since its inception, SACS has served the educational community by dedicating its mission to helping schools improve student learning. Today, SACS is the largest accrediting agency in the world and is one of only six agencies that accredit both public and nonpublic educational institutions. The current SAIS-SACS partnership offers schools a process for dual accreditation. In today s world of accountability in schooling, accreditation serves as a critical component of a school s demonstrated effectiveness and ability to provide successful schooling for children. A school that is able to achieve accreditation demonstrates a commitment to a process that requires the school to meet a set of rigorous, research-based standards; to engage in a program of continuous school improvement; and to demonstrate quality assurance to its stakeholders through self-evaluation and peer review. SAIS-SACS accreditation provides schools access to an integrated network of services and technical assistance that supports every school s ability to identify and meet its goals for improving student performance and the teaching and learning process. A SAIS-SACS accredited school is part of an international network of accredited schools which have demonstrated success in educating children. As such, SAIS-SACS accreditation is recognized throughout the world as a symbol of quality in education for students and teachers. To earn accreditation, schools must meet quality standards, be evaluated by an outside group of peer professionals, and implement a school plan focused on strategic improvement and student performance. Accreditation is voluntary and must be renewed each year. Quality Assurance Review Report 3

4 The Accreditation Process. To earn and maintain accreditation from SAIS and SACS CASI, schools must: 1) Meet the SAIS - SACS Standards for Quality Schools. Schools demonstrate adherence to the seven SAIS - SACS standards which describe the quality practices and conditions that research and best practice indicate are necessary for schools to achieve quality student performance and organizational effectiveness. 2) Engage in continuous improvement. Schools implement a continuous improvement process that articulates the vision and purpose the school is pursuing (vision); maintains a rich and current description of students, their performance, school effectiveness, and the school community (profile); employs goals and interventions to improve student performance (plan); and documents and uses the results to inform what happens next (results). 3) Demonstrate quality assurance through internal and external review. Schools engage in a planned process of ongoing internal review and self-assessment. In addition, schools host an external quality assurance review team once every five years. The team evaluates the school s adherence to the SAIS - SACS quality standards, assesses the efficacy of the school s improvement process and methods for quality assurance, and provides commendations and recommendations to help the school improve. The team provides an oral exit report to the school and a written report detailing the team s recommendations. The school acts on the team s recommendations and submits a progress report two years following the review. SAIS - SACS accreditation engages the entire school community in a continuous process of selfevaluation and improvement. The overall aim is to help schools be the best they can be on behalf of the students they serve. Quality Assurance Review Report 4

5 Introduction to the Quality Assurance Review Purpose. The purpose of the Quality Assurance Review is to: 1. Evaluate the school's adherence to the SAIS - SACS quality standards. 2. Assess the efficacy of the school s improvement process and methods for quality assurance. 3. Identify commendations and recommendations to improve the school. 4. Make an accreditation recommendation for review by the SAIS Accreditation Committee. A key aim of the quality assurance review is to verify that the school is operating with institutional integrity that it is fulfilling its vision and mission for its students. School Preparation. To prepare for the Quality Assurance Review, the school community engages in an in-depth self assessment of each of the seven SAIS SACS standards. The school identifies and describes the evidence that demonstrates that is it meeting each standard. Through this internal review, the school examines how its systems and processes contribute to student performance and school effectiveness. Summary of Team Activities. The Quality Assurance Review Team is led by an SAIS certified team chair and comprised of professionals from other independent schools. The team reviews the findings of the school s internal self-assessment, conducts interviews with representative groups of stakeholders, reviews student performance data and other documentation provided by the school, and observes practices and daily operations. The team engages in professional deliberations to reach consensus on the school s adherence to the standards for accreditation. The team provides an oral exit report and prepares a written Quality Assurance Review Team Report designed to help the school improve. The Quality Assurance Review Team Report. Following the visit, the review team completes the Quality Assurance Review report. After review by a nationally-trained reader, the report is submitted to the school. The report contains commendations and recommendations for improvement. Using the Report Acting on the Recommendations. The school uses the report to guide its improvement efforts. The school is held accountable for addressing the recommendations identified in the report. The SAIS Office is available to assist schools in addressing the recommendations. Two years following the Quality Assurance Review Team visit, the school must submit a progress report detailing the actions and progress the school has made on the team s recommendations. The report is reviewed by SAIS to ensure the school is addressing the recommendations. Accreditation Recommendation. The Quality Assurance Review Team uses the findings from the onsite visit to make an accreditation recommendation that is reviewed at the SAIS Accreditation Committee. Accreditation is granted by SAIS and the AdvancED Accreditation Commission on behalf of SACS CASI and is communicated to the school following action from the SAIS Accreditation Committee. Quality Assurance Review Report 5

6 Summary of Findings A Quality Assurance Review Team representing the The Southern Association of Independent Schools and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, visited the Sample School in Anytown, Southernstate on August 21-22, During the visit, members of the Quality Assurance Review Team interviewed the head of school, five members of the administrative team, 20 students, 15 parents, and 10 teachers. In addition, team members interviewed members of the school s business partnership committee. The team also reviewed documents, student performance data, and other artifacts provided by the school. Specifically, the team examined the school s systems and processes in relation to the seven SAIS - SACS standards: Vision and Purpose Governance and Leadership Teaching and Learning Documenting and Using Results Resource and Support Systems Stakeholder Communications and Relationships Commitment to Continuous Improvement The SAIS - SACS standards focus on systems within a school and systematic methods of attaining high student performance and organizational effectiveness. The power of the standards lies in the connections and linkages between and among the standards. The Quality Assurance Review Team used the SAIS - SACS standards to guide its review of the school, looking not only for adherence to individual standards, but also for how the school functions as a whole and embodies the practices and characteristics of a quality school. Through its examination of the school s adherence to the standards, the Quality Assurance Review Team identified the following commendations and recommendations. Commendations The Quality Assurance Review Team commends the school for the following strengths and accomplishments. While additional strengths are noted in the detailed review of each standard that appears later in this report, the commendations listed below are the strengths that the team believes are most deserving of being highlighted. The school maintains a clear and powerful focus on student performance that permeates all levels of the organization. As evidenced by statements from stakeholder interviews and through classroom observations, all stakeholders know the school s student performance objectives, are aware of current performance levels, and can articulate what strategies are being implemented to address gaps in performance. This focus has contributed to the school s steady increases in student performance. The school has developed a robust student articulation program that aids students as they transition from their sending school, move from one grade to another, and transition to their receiving school. Student portfolios, scheduled meetings of sending and receiving teachers each fall, and student and teacher survey data reveal that the school has a systematic as well as Quality Assurance Review Report 6

7 systemic approach to helping students in their transitions. This has resulted in smoother transitions for students and teachers spending less time in the early months of school becoming familiar with their students needs and abilities. Recommendations In addition to the commendations, the Quality Assurance Review Team identified the following recommendations for improvement. The team focused its recommendations on those areas that, if addressed, will have the greatest impact on improving student performance and overall school effectiveness. The school will be held accountable for making progress on each of the recommendations noted in this section. Two years following this review, the school will be asked to submit a progress report on these recommendations. Identify, communicate, and provide professional development on the research-based instructional strategies that the school wants all staff to implement to improve student performance in reading. Include methods for periodically evaluating the effectiveness of the strategies. Through classroom observations, interviews with faculty and students, review of curriculum guides, and a review of sample lesson plans, the team noted lack of clarity of the intended instructional strategies, lack of teacher comfort level with using the strategies, and lack of mechanisms to monitor whether the strategies were being implemented. By working to ensure effective implementation of the school s reading strategies, the school can better determine the success of their strategies on student performance and make adjustments where needed. Restructure the student assessment system to maximize teachers ability to use the data gained from the system to inform instruction. The team found, through teacher interviews and a review of the school s assessment system, that relevant data about student performance is not reaching teachers in a meaningful and timely way. By adjusting the timing of assessments and improving the methods in which student performance data is shared with teachers, the school can make better use of its assessment data for the purposes of improving instruction and individual student performance. Review of SAIS - SACS Standards for Quality Schools The team reviewed the school s adherence to each of the AdvancED standards. The findings from this review are provided in the next section of this report. Next Steps The school should: 1. Review and discuss the findings from this report with all stakeholders. 2. Ensure that plans are in place to embed and sustain the strengths noted in the commendations section to maximize their impact on the school. 3. Develop action plans to address the recommendations made by the team. Include methods for monitoring progress toward the recommendations. Quality Assurance Review Report 7

8 4. Use the report to guide and strengthen the school s efforts to improve student performance and school effectiveness. 5. Two years following the Quality Assurance Review, submit the Accreditation Progress Report detailing progress made toward addressing the team s recommendations. The report will be reviewed by SAIS to ensure that significant progress is being made toward the recommendations. Lack of progress can result in a change in accreditation status. 6. Continue to meet the SAIS - SACS accreditation standards, submit required reports, engage in continuous improvement, and document results. Resources SAIS offers a range of resources to support your school as it acts on the findings in this report. The SAIS Resource Network, available at provides an online network of peer-to-peer practices, best practices, and resources and tools designed to help schools with their improvement efforts. Available any where, any time, the network can be queried for information on a variety of school improvement subjects. The SAIS Research and Development division provides research, handbooks, and tools to assist schools with continuous improvement. In addition, the SAIS office provides hands-on professional development and ongoing technical assistance. Contact the SAIS office for more information on the range of resources available to you. Celebrating Accreditation Following the visit, the Quality Assurance Review team submits an accreditation recommendation to SAIS for review and action by the Accreditation Committee, which confers accreditation and communicates it to the school. Upon receiving its accreditation, the school should celebrate its achievement with the school community. The SAIS and SACS accreditation seals are available from SAIS for schools to post on their website and in school communications. Flags, door decals, diploma seals, and more can be ordered from the website to help you share your accomplishment with your community. Summary The accreditation process engages the school in an ongoing journey of continuous improvement. The next steps in this journey are to build on the strengths and address the recommendations noted in this report. Doing so will enable the school to advance in its quest for excellence and deepen the fulfillment of its mission for all students. Quality Assurance Review Report 8

9 Standards for Accreditation The primary requirement for accreditation is that Sample School demonstrates that it meets the seven standards for accreditation. The findings of the Quality Assurance Review Team regarding the standards for accreditation are summarized on the following pages. Vision and Purpose STANDARD: The school establishes and communicates a shared purpose and direction for improving the performance of students and the effectiveness of the school. The school s vision, mission, and values provide focus and direction for all stakeholders throughout the school community. School stakeholders were involved in the development of the vision, mission, and values through a series of facilitated community sessions. Interviews with staff members, students, and parents revealed a strong knowledge of and commitment to the school s vision, mission, and values. Plaques and posters throughout the building reinforce the values of the school. The school maintains a rich profile of its school, students, and community. The team reviewed the profile data which is available on the school s website and through the school s and district s annual reports. Stakeholder survey results were also reviewed. The team found that the profile data provides the school with useful information regarding student performance, school effectiveness, and stakeholder perceptions. The team, however, did not find evidence that this information is actively reviewed and analyzed for trends and issues that could help inform the school s improvement efforts. Goals to advance the vision of the school lack a clear link to the school s profile data. For example, the team s review of the profile data revealed stagnant student performance in math; and survey results showed concern by parents regarding student math performance. The school s goals focus on reading comprehension and discipline which are less supported by the profile data than a focus on math performance. The team noted several successful practices deserving of recognition: Teachers can demonstrate through their lesson plans how they integrate the school values into their lessons. The values are clearly embedded in classroom rules and practices. The school s leadership actively reinforces the school s vision, mission, and values during meetings, at school gatherings, and through daily interactions with students and staff. The team offers the following suggestions for improvement and growth in this standard area: Develop and implement a systematic process for reviewing and analyzing the school s profile data for trends and issues that can inform the school s improvement efforts. Link the school s goals for improvement to the profile data. Finding Based on the evidence reviewed, the Quality Assurance Review team has assigned the overall assessment level of operational, indicating that Sample School has met the accreditation requirements for this standard. Quality Assurance Review Report 9

10 Governance and Leadership STANDARD: The school provides governance and leadership that promote student performance and school effectiveness. [Team Chair Inserts Standard Narrative] Finding Based on the evidence reviewed, the Quality Assurance Review team has assigned the overall assessment level of [insert level], indicating [school][has/has not] met the accreditation requirements for this standard. Teaching and Learning STANDARD: The school provides research-based curriculum and instructional methods that facilitate achievement for all students. [Team Chair Inserts Standard Narrative] Finding Based on the evidence reviewed, the Quality Assurance Review team has assigned the overall assessment level of [insert level], indicating [school][has/has not] met the accreditation requirements for this standard. Documenting and Using Results STANDARD: The school enacts a comprehensive assessment system that monitors and documents performance and uses these results to improve student performance and school effectiveness. [Team Chair Inserts Standard Narrative] Finding Based on the evidence reviewed, the Quality Assurance Review team has assigned the overall assessment level of [insert level], indicating [school][has/has not] met the accreditation requirements for this standard. Resource and Support Systems STANDARD: The school has the resources and services necessary to support its vision and purpose and to ensure achievement for all students. [Team Chair Inserts Standard Narrative] Quality Assurance Review Report 10

11 Finding Based on the evidence reviewed, the Quality Assurance Review team has assigned the overall assessment level of [insert level], indicating [school][has/has not] met the accreditation requirements for this standard. Stakeholder Communications and Relationships STANDARD: The school fosters effective communications and relationships with and among its stakeholders. [Team Chair Inserts Standard Narrative] Finding Based on the evidence reviewed, the Quality Assurance Review team has assigned the overall assessment level of [insert level], indicating [school][has/has not] met the accreditation requirements for this standard. Commitment to Continuous Improvement STANDARD: The school establishes, implements, and monitors a continuous process of improvement that focuses on student performance. [Team Chair Inserts Standard Narrative] Finding Based on the evidence reviewed, the Quality Assurance Review team has assigned the overall assessment level of [insert level], indicating [school][has/has not] met the accreditation requirements for this standard. Quality Assurance Review Report 11

12 Conclusion The commendations and recommendations in this report are designed to focus the school on those areas that will have the greatest impact on student performance and school effectiveness. While powerful in potential, the commendations and recommendations only have meaning when acted upon by the school. The strength of this report lies in the school s commitment to using the findings to continuously improve. The key is action. The school is encouraged to use the report as a call to action, a tool to sustain momentum in the ongoing process of continuous improvement. The team identified several recommendations for improvement that the school will need to address. Two years following this review, the school will be required to submit a progress report summarizing its progress toward addressing the team s recommendations. The Quality Assurance Review Team expresses appreciation to Joe Smith, members of the professional staff, students, parents and other community representatives for hosting the review team. The team wishes the school and its students much success in the quest for excellence through SAIS - SACS accreditation. Quality Assurance Review Report 12

13 Appendix Quality Assurance Review Team Members <insert list of members> SAIS - SACS Standards for Quality Schools Quality Assurance Review Report 13

14 SAIS - SACS Standards for Quality Schools The SAIS - SACS Standards for Quality Schools are comprehensive statements of quality practices and conditions that research and best practice indicate are necessary for schools to achieve quality student performance and organizational effectiveness. As schools reach higher levels of implementation of the standards, they will have a greater capacity to support ever-increasing student performance and organizational effectiveness. Each of the seven standards listed below has corresponding indicators and impact statements which can be accessed at Vision and Purpose The school establishes and communicates a shared purpose and direction for improving the performance of students and the effectiveness of the school. Governance and Leadership The school provides governance and leadership that promote student performance and school effectiveness. Teaching and Learning The school provides research-based curriculum and instructional methods that facilitate achievement for all students. Documenting and Using Results The school enacts a comprehensive assessment system that monitors and documents performance and uses these results to improve student performance and school effectiveness. Resource and Support Systems The school has the resources and services necessary to support its vision and purpose and to ensure achievement for all students. Stakeholder Communications and Relationships The school fosters effective communications and relationships with and among its stakeholders. Commitment to Continuous Improvement The school establishes, implements, and monitors a continuous process of improvement that focuses on student performance. Quality Assurance Review Report 14

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