In March of 2015, Ross School conducted a comprehensive self-study as part of the process for applying for accreditation (or reaccreditation) from the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS) and the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS). As a result of the formal evaluations that followed, Ross School was successfully accredited by both organizations and is also the first ever among 3,000 international schools to be named a MSA-CESS Program of Distinction in Global Literacies.
“The accreditation process examines schools and school systems in a holistic way, supplementing student testing data to provide a more complete measure of performance and chart a strategic and realistic course for continuous school improvement,” said Henry G. Cram, EdD, president of MSA-CESS. “At the Middle States Association, we look at the whole school—not just test scores—because we realize that improving outcomes requires a comprehensive approach.”
The accreditations are important because they offer objective assurances that Ross School maintains the highest standards of excellence. The review process was also a valuable opportunity for Ross educators and administrators to examine the organization to identify areas to improve the curriculum, programs, and student experience.
The standards for accreditation with both organizations address the school’s mission, governance and leadership, improvement planning, finances, facilities, organization and staffing, health and safety, educational programs, methods of assessing student learning, student services, student life and activities, and information resources. After the self-study, which gathered input from school leaders, teachers, parents, and students, Ross opened its doors to a team of volunteer educators from the associations’ member schools. This team conducted an on-site peer review visit to observe school operations and interview various stakeholders.
Feedback received from the site visit team will be used to set goals for future growth and improvement. Of particular significance were the comments from MSA-CESS representative Marsha Aaronson. “Ross School is clearly committed to the principles set forth in the accreditation and Global Literacies protocol,” she remarked. “All of the standards and indicators are met, and in a majority of cases, exceeded. Ross School clearly meets the standard for being an ‘exemplary model’ for other schools to emulate and for being awarded the Global Literacies Program of Distinction.”
Programs of Distinction are models for other academic programs throughout the world. The Global Literacies award recognizes schools and school systems that provide programs and services that promote global citizenship and ensure respect for and understanding of diverse cultures and religions.
“The accreditations and Program of Distinction recognition are testament to our commitment to academic excellence and to providing students with a global education to prepare them to excel in an increasingly complex and interconnected world,” said Jennifer Chidsey, president of Ross Institute and chief academic officer of Ross School and Institute.
Accreditation from MSA-CESS is valid through 2020; NYSAIS accreditation is valid through 2017. Jennifer explained that Ross will continually build on opportunities to improve leading up to formal review cycles of reaccreditation in the future.