Striving for Excellence: Accreditation as a Path to Quality
- Accreditation is sought by schools and programs in order to validate their quality and to verify that they are striving for excellence. Most ACSI schools/programs bear the name of Christ, which is excellent, and should reflect His name in the way they provide high-quality education.
- Accreditation should be viewed as an ongoing process of school-wide improvement and development through which a school or program strives for educational and spiritual excellence. It is a process of recognizing and assessing schools and programs against accepted standards of performance, integrity, and quality.
- Accreditation is a voluntary process. A school/program that commits to striving for excellence through accreditation is agreeing to a process of ongoing review to strengthen and improve effectiveness and the quality of instruction for the population it serves. A school/program will need to identify the data and research, the information, the evidence, and the documented results that ensure and confirm that it is meeting each standard
ACSI Accreditation Developed Around Two Major Themes
- Reflection on the spiritual aspects of each component of the organization, and
- Evaluation of the educational quality and integrity of the organization. The former addresses the distinctive of a faith-based program or Christian school and the components which make an eternal impact on children, students, and families. The latter addresses the issues demonstrating that the school/program is true to its own statements of philosophy, mission, and goals and that it is meeting the standards of quality and effectiveness.
Benefits of Accreditation
- Documents that the school is true to its own foundational statements (mission, philosophy, and goals)
- Affirms that the school meets standards of quality established by the international school community
- Provides validation of the credibility of the school/program through a peer review process
- Promotes accountability to the school community and impacts parental contentment
- Improves instruction targeting increased student achievement
- Increases confidence and reduction of isolation
- Promotes on-going institutional improvement through a continuous process of self-assessment and systematic school/program development.
- Encourages the evaluation of the biblical and spiritual integration of the school program
- Transfers credits between schools and between nations’ school systems
- Extends access to resources and tools to the school/program
- Provides a complete review and written documentation of school program
Gives purpose and direction for long-range strategic planning
Why attend an ACSI school?
Stoneybrooke Christian Schools are fully accredited through WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) and ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International). Stoneybrooke has received a 6 year term of accreditation, the highest ranking possible, signifying there is substantial evidence that a level of acceptability and progress will continue for a six-year period when a full re-evaluation and visit will occur. The accreditation process holds our school accountable for a complete documentation of an intensive appraisal of each component of our ministry.
1. ACSI schools have the greatest emphasis on student development of moral character and personal virtue.**
2. Christian school graduates are significantly more likely to pray and read Scripture both alone and with family.*
3. ACSI schools have the highest belief in biblical accuracy in scientific and historical matters.**
4. Christian school graduates are more likely to attend religious services and respect the authority of church leadership.*
5. ACSI schools most often include these among their top priorities: for students to have a close, personal relationship with God and for students to develop a Christian worldview.**
1. Since 1974 ACSI schools have scored significantly higher than the national norm in every grade level on a national achievement test.
2. ACSI school students read at least one grade level above the national averages as measured on a national achievement test.
3. ACSI schools average more required course credits in math, science, English, biblical studies, civics, social studies, art and music, and physical education than all other programs surveyed.**
4. ACSI school graduates attend college at a significantly higher rate than the national average.
5. Christian school graduates are more likely to attend a religious university and obtain more years of higher education than their public school peers.*
1. Christian school graduates donate significantly more money to their churches, religious causes, and other charitable causes overall.*
2. A greater percentage of ACSI schools offer missions and social service trips both in the United States and Canada.**
3. Christian school graduates give more of their time to volunteer in their congregations, on missions trips, and on relief/aid trips.*
4. ACSI schools have greater student involvement in community service, politics, and fine arts than nonmember Protestant Christian schools.
5. Christian school graduates have a stronger sense of direction in their lives and are more confident in their ability to deal with life challenges than their peers.*
Find out more about these facts and the related studies by going to www.acsi.org/about-acsi/why-acsi-schools. These comments do not promise the quality of an individual school; they are representative comments of ACSI schools as a whole.
* Protestant Christian schools compared with Catholic, public, and private nonreligious schools as well as homeschools
** ACSI schools compared with other Protestant Christian schools and Catholic schools
Sources: Cardus Education Survey, 2011, and ACSI 2010/2011 Member Survey.
Christian Schooling in a Postmodern Culture
ACSI recently cosponsored a comprehensive study on the outcomes of Christian education; it produced some exciting results. The Cardus Education Survey compared graduates of Protestant Christian schools, Roman Catholic schools, nonreligious private schools, and homeschools.
The research showed that graduates of Protestant Christian schools—especially accredited schools—excel spiritually, academically, and culturally. These graduates are more likely to choose careers on the basis of their religious calling (Pennings et al. 2011, 20), they use Scripture to make moral decisions more often, and they believe more strongly that moral standards are absolute (16–17, 20). They also do more community good through their commitment to short‐term mission and aid trips (19). ACSI schools have produced graduates like these for years. In this issue of Christian School Comment I’d like to share some observations on this topic by Dr. William E. Brown, chancellor of Cedarville University. He reminds us of the incredible value of Christian education.
I was enjoying lunch with a school administrator, and our conversation turned to the wonderful role we as educators play. I mentioned that I felt honored to accompany students along the path to discovering truth. He looked at me with disdain. “Truth? We can’t use that word on our campus,” he said. “It’s divisive.” Truth, divisive? The search for truth is supposed to unite us. Yet, in today’s postmodern society, even the idea of truth can be disruptive. Nowhere is this more evident than in our schools. Many may consider a Christian education a withdrawal from the prevailing culture. However, recent research shows that Christian education is providing the most vigorous and complete instruction for our children. The results are evident: young men and women who know how to think deeply and broadly, and graduates who are energized about the future and have a desire to make a positive difference in the world.
How does Christian education accomplish this?
First, Christian education is not indoctrination but true education. This is the strength of Christian education. It is free to investigate all issues from alternative worldviews because of its commitment to the discovery of truth. Students explore different ways people seek knowledge—for example, through science, religion, philosophy, and literature; then they are equipped to evaluate why people believe and act as they do.
Second, Christian education is not fragmented but holistic. Education at its best helps students make connections between academic studies and important issues. Unfortunately, fragmentation is characteristic of today’s postmodern culture, and much of our children’s learning experience reflects this. Students can learn the facts of history, master the laws of science, and understand the rules of grammar, but such an approach may only help them learn what and how but never discover why. Christian education actively explores questions of origin (Where did everything come from?), morality (How do we decide what is right and wrong?), and destiny (What happens when we die?)—questions central to the human experience. Students are prepared and motivated to think deeply and serve willingly.
Third, Christian education is not limiting but empowering. Christian education aggressively takes on the culture in a bold attempt to equip students for lifelong leadership and service. At the personal level, Christian education holds up the importance of virtue and the development of true character. Integrity, courage, sacrifice, and love are modeled by teachers who are committed to a biblical worldview.
At the public level, Christian education provides the knowledge and skills our students need to see beyond politics and the shallow notions of popular media to underlying worldviews and values. Students learn to engage the culture with the heart and mind of Christ. A complete and well-rounded education recognizes that God has revealed truth to us through His creation and His Word (Psalm 19, Romans 1:2). Far from being divisive, the search for truth provides the path to freedom (John 8:32). In these postmodern times, Christian education stands tall, broad, deep, and empowering. The results speak for themselves.
I wholeheartedly agree.
Dan Egeler, EdD