ISK Gets Reaccredited
It is hard to fully describe what a school day is like. On the surface, things often look calm and routine like a duck on the water. Early morning hockey practices, students filing off buses on their way to class, joyful lunches shared with friends, followed by sweatily satisfying recess activities, back to classes, off to after school activities, and then back on the bus to share (or not share) the events of the day around the dinner table. Dig a little beneath the surface and you’ll discover just how quickly those little duck feet are moving.
Schools are incredibly complex. International schools even more so because we try to do everything that larger school districts and municipal community services in our home cities offer. We love our independence from state, provincial, or national bureaucracy but our independence also requires us to create services and aspects in schools normally handled by school districts, departments of education, and community-sponsored activities. Three such examples are business offices, curriculum departments, and after school sports and activities programs. While this sense of autonomy is wonderful in many ways, like other independent international schools, we want to ensure that we are meeting or exceeding high international standards. This is where accreditation plays a key role.
ISK is jointly accredited by The Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA). In late February, we welcomed a representative from each of our accrediting bodies to come to campus for three purposes: to observe our school in action, to ensure that we meet or exceed standards, and to help us in our plans to improve. It was a very engaging and beneficial week.
In truth, ISK has been involved in the accreditation process for many decades so this in fact was reaccreditation. Because we are an established and highly regarded school, we were able to opt into a new and progressive accreditation protocol. The first part is an exercise in providing evidence that we meet or exceed CIS/MSA Standards. This has been completed and we await the report. The second part of this protocol is choosing an area to improve upon and creating detailed plans to accomplish this improvement. Our area of focus is Teaching and Learning and the creation of the projects is well underway. Within 18 months, a larger visiting team from CIS/MSA will visit the campus and investigate our project work. The reason this protocol was so attractive is that it aligns with our Strategic Focus Area (SFA) work which is well underway. We began by defining learning at ISK and faculty are immersed in the process of designing deeper learning for our students. This new accreditation protocol informs our work in this area and provides both support and accountability.
Schools are indeed busy places and with 1100 students, over 2000 parents, and 450 employees, ISK is arguably busier than most. It is important that we keep things calm on the surface so that our kids can benefit from all we offer. In truth, the only way that we know how to create this calm is to keep those feet moving frantically below the surface.