A school shall be evaluated on the basis of the degree to which it is accomplishing the purposes and functions outlined in its own statement of objectives, and on the appropriateness of those purposes and functions for an institution of its type. In addition, to qualify for accreditation, a school must give evidence of adequately meeting the following criteria which are established as a general guideline to determine the effectiveness of the school’s educational program and services.
The school shall have:
• General Data: Current statistical information
• Philosophy and Goals: A statement of philosophy by the governing body of the school. Goals and objectives consistent with that philosophy shall be systematically developed and reviewed by the administration and staff, and are to be shared often with the students and the parent community. There shall be a continual evaluation of progress toward these goals and objectives.
• Organization: A clearly defined and demonstrably workable organizational structure whereby these goals and objectives are carried out. This structure should specify the functions of the administration, staff and students, the administrative relationship among these groups, and the limits of authority and responsibility.
• Curriculum: A curricular program with written course descriptions and objectives that provide all students with suitable courses of instruction consistent with the school’s philosophy and goals, and the students’ needs, abilities, and interests. There shall be adequate instructional resources to implement the curricular program. The curriculum should be the object of continual evaluation and development by the faculty, students, and administration.
• Instruction and Learning: An instructional program that addresses the needs of all students, emphasizes active learning, and provides teachers and students with ample material.
• Pupil Services: Pupil services that identify the needs, interests, aptitudes, and goals of all its students with adequate educational, personal, social, and career guidance.
• Pupil Activities: Appropriate student activity offerings that supplement the formal instruction of the school. These should be responsive to the students’ needs and interests and shall draw upon special skills and enthusiasm among students and faculty.
• Parent Community: A supportive parent community that is encouraged to share its ideas and recommendations and, when invited to, actively participate in prescribed areas of the school program.
• School Plant: A school plant and physical facility that enables staff to implement effectively the school program.
• Finance: Continuing financial support adequate to provide staff, physical facilities, instructional resources, and other support services necessary to operate effective educational programs. Budgetary planning should involve those who are responsible for implementing the school’s programs and services.
• School Improvement Plan: As part of the self-study the school will prepare a school improvement plan (SIP). The school improvement committee shall represent the school community and may employ a model that is appropriate for the school and its mission. The plan should analyze data from the self-study and other sources to determine the present state of the school and to develop objectives and action plans to improve student learning.
• As a SIP is an ongoing document it is expected that previous plans will have been reported upon and have been updated to reflect successes and opportunities for continued growth. Keep in mind that any school can improve; the SIP only provides the school with a blueprint for improvement and continued success.
• Dormitories and Dormitory Life (Boarding Schools): As life in a boarding school is integral to the overall development of the student, the aspects of that life must be evaluated as part of the entire student experience. The school must exhibit that care has been taken to plan for and implement policies that provide for the affective development of the child in his or her relationships with adults and other students.
• Early Childhood Education: In addition to the criteria described in Sections 1-12 above, the following criteria, particular to early childhood programs, will be observed. Schools should keep in mind that in many communities law often dictates the requirements for early childhood education. In addition to the requirements below, schools must meet all local, state and national requirements that may apply to their individual circumstances. Schools must also meet any state requirements for early childhood programs if the school is participating in a state-supported program. (See the appendix for Standards of the National Council for Private School Accreditation for Early Childhood that must be adhered to in Florida and many others states.)
• Special Needs Schools: Special Needs schools are those schools whose mission, objective, student population and goals require substantially different curriculum and instructional strategies. These may include schools for exceptional education of all kinds. Schools must be governed by the NIPSA accreditation criteria as outlined in Sections 1-13 of the NIPSA Accreditation Manual, Directions for the School. In addition, schools must adhere to all local, state and national requirements that may apply to their operation.
• NIPSA Therapeutic Certification is an evaluative process for schools that describe themselves as therapeutic in nature and that have a component for addressing student needs in addition to that which is seen as traditionally academic. These criteria are designed to set high standards of performance in regards to personnel, safety, and quality of care. The process includes a comprehensive self-evaluative report by the school, followed by a site visit by a committee of peers in order to experience the school firsthand and to evaluate the accuracy of the report. To be recognized for NIPSA Therapeutic Certification a school must also meet, or have previously met, the criteria of NIPSA Academic Accreditation as set forth in the Evaluative Criteria, NIPSA Manual for the Self-Study and must meet the criteria for Special Needs Schools described in Section 14.0 of that document.
While certification is not a guarantee of positive outcomes, we believe that schools that strive to meet these standards will have more likelihood of success.