Independent Schools Association of the Southwest

Accreditation Process

ISAS evaluation and accreditation are ongoing processes. Member schools proceed through a ten-year evaluation cycle, as follows:

Accreditation Visit—Year 1

Members of an ISAS Visiting Committee assess the accuracy of the school's Self Study, evaluate the effectivenes of the school's programs, measure the concurrence of the school's programs with its stated mission, and make recommendations to assist the school in continued improvement. An ISAS Visiting Committee is chaired by the head of an ISAS school and is composed of faculty members and administrators from ISAS schools. The Report of the Visiting Committee is submitted to the appropriate commission of the Standards Committee for recommendation to the ISAS Board of Directors on accreditation.

The Accreditation Visit provides a goal toward which the Self Study progresses. The credibility of the school’s work is validated by the observations of the Visiting Committee, and the school’s constituencies depend on the feedback provided by the Recommendations, Commendations, and Observations detailed in the Report of the Visiting Committee.

Interim Report - Year 5

The school’s response to Summary Recommendations provides the structure for the Interim Report in the fifth year of the accreditation cycle. The Interim Report also requires updated information on:

  • The school’s financial condition,
  • Non-discriminatory practices,
  • Health and safety code compliance,
  • Faculty development,
  • Faculty census,
  • Student enrollment and placement, and
  • Any substantive changes that impact school operations.

Self Study and Documentation of Adherence to Standards—Year 10

Self Study affords a school the opportunity for reflection on its mission, its efforts to fulfill that mission, its strengths, and areas which call for improvement. The Self Study should involve a broad cross section of the school’s constituents (faculty, students, trustees, administrators, parents, and alumni/ae) and should lead to exploration of ways to improve the school’s program and operations. The process seeks to lead the school community toward clearer knowledge of what constitutes maximum success in fulfilling its mission and understanding of challenges and opportunities.

The Documentation of Adherence to Standards is also completed during the year of Self Study to demonstrate the school’s compliance with ISAS Standards. While the Self Study process calls for qualitative analysis, reflection, and identification of action for school improvement, the Documentation of Adherence to Standards is a more objective report which includes narrative responses and explanations, school data and statistics, and requested school policies, handbooks, and publications.

Annual and Other Reports

Each September, schools must submit an Annual Report of school demographic information, substantive changes, and improvement initiatives.

The Standards Committee has the authority to require other reports responding to specific issues from member schools.

Our exceptionally high standards are the backbone of ISAS, and our greatest strength.
–Arnie Holtberg, Head of School Emeritus,
St. Mark’s School of Texas, Dallas, TX