By Heather Carpenter, Executive Director
Cedar Crest Academy is happy to announce we will be starting the NWAIS (Northwest Association of Independent Schools) accreditation process this school year. The NWAIS is a nonprofit membership association that provides accreditation, professional development and support services to over 110 schools in Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Why seek NWAIS Accreditation?
- Provides value due to the thoroughness of the process and acts as a tool for ongoing improvement – continually advancing.
- Offers assurance of quality education and accountability for families and is an inclusive process engaging the whole school community.
- Assesses a school’s effectiveness in delivering on the promise of its mission, advances mission-driven initiatives, and helps to ensure the school’s future capacity.
- Is recognized by other agencies, regionally and nationally.
What is involved in the Accreditation Process?
The NWAIS accreditation process is based on the principle that schools are in a continual process of development. At each step of the process, there is the possibility for improvement. Through accreditation’s structured reflections, Cedar Crest Academy can identify areas for growth and benefit from the experience and perspective of their peer schools. For schools to flourish, movement needs to be mission-driven. Each school has a unique mission, making opportunities for growth individualized for each program.
NWAIS Accreditation Standards and Indicators describe the elements the Association has determined are necessary for quality institutions to possess based on decades of experience in independent schools. They span the range of operations, systems, structures and facilities at a school. The Self Study questions are designed to enable schools to conduct a comprehensive self-assessment. When schools engage in the reflective and collaborative process of accreditation, they can better articulate who they are, where they want to go, and how they are able to get there.
There are a number of steps in the eight-year cycle of NWAIS accreditation. First, Cedar Crest’s staff and community will participate in and write a Self-Study, describing how we fulfill our mission and meet the NWAIS Standards and Indicators. Second, a team comprised of educators from other independent schools will visit Cedar Crest to see how well the Self Study document reflects what is actually happening on campus. The visiting team will write a report that is then presented to the NWAIS Accreditation Committee, which makes a recommendation to the NWAIS Board of Governors about Cedar Crest’s accreditation status.
Even after the accreditation decision has been reached, Cedar Crest will make an annual report to NWAIS on our progress in addressing any major recommendations. Additionally, three years after our visit, we must submit a Response Report addressing all recommendations.
As always, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on all aspects of the accreditation process. Look forward to more information on our Self Study to come out later this school year.