Simplify School Accreditation with AtlasLearn how schools use Atlas to enhance their accreditation process from initial planning, evidence gathering, reporting to the site visit, and creating a plan for improvement.
Atlas Serves as Evidence
There are many ways Atlas can support the accreditation process. At the most basic, Atlas houses the curriculum and enables curriculum mapping to occur in a dynamic and collaborative fashion. Schools using Atlas for accreditation demonstrate that their curriculum is living and subject to continuous review and revision.
Housed in one platform, Atlas simplifies the school accreditation process for the self-study as well as the site visit.
Built-in reporting capabilities enable meaningful reflection on curriculum as part of the larger school ecosystem. And, the flexible template design allows schools to configure templates to capture the self-study process, significantly centralizing and organizing the school accreditation process. And, all these components captured within Atlas serve as evidence for the accrediting body.
Schools seeking FCIS accreditation are required to complete a detailed self-study and must also open themselves up to an external review by the accrediting organization. It also involves strategically planning how to collect and organize the documentation required to satisfy the FCIS accreditation process.
QSAC is New Jersey’s Quality Single Accountability System, which is a monitoring and district self-evaluation system for public schools. In this infographic, we outline how New Jersey districts customize Atlas to meet the QSAC accreditation requirements, following the process of Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District.
The American School of Tegucigalpa, shared with us that preparing for AdvancEd accreditation review is one and the same as the school improvement plan. To structure a process that supported both, they used Atlas to develop and implement their school improvement plan and the strategic plan that guided them through their successful school accreditation process with AdvancEd.
The Meridian School recognized the need to initiate a curriculum mapping initiative to prepare for their NWAIS accreditation process. Using Atlas, they documented an integrated, consistent, and robust curriculum, which they published via an Atlas public site during their school visit.
Planning for School Accreditation
Many of the schools we work with throughout their accreditation process utilize Atlas as their central resource for school accreditation. More than a curriculum mapping platform, Atlas also maps the school accreditation process.
Schools build out separate templates that outline the accreditation process on a unit timeline. The units are designed to hold notes and resources as attachments and links, as well as action steps, people responsible, and more. With Atlas, you can:
MAP YOUR PROCESS ON THE CALENDAR WITH EACH PHASE AND TASK AS A DIFFERENT UNIT.
DESIGN A TEMPLATE THAT CAPTURES KEY CONTENT AND FOR THE PROCESS.
USE THE ATTACHMENT FEATURE TO SAVE AND UPLOAD SUPPORTING EVIDENCE.
School accreditation requires schools to have a documented curriculum. From one accrediting body to the next, the specific parameters of the mapped curriculum differ. For example, governments may require schools align to academic standards and independent school organizations often necessitate a mission driven curriculum. While each process is different, Atlas supports all.
The standards drop-down in the unit template, which allows teachers to dynamically align to standards, can contain any set of standards your school needs.
State standards are regularly reviewed and updated, in addition to those of educational organizations and accrediting bodies. Still, if you need additional standards, you can request them to be added to your unit template.
To satisfy additional curriculum requirements, Atlas’s unit templates are flexible and adding categories designed to capture the school’s mission is easy.
Watch this short video to see how The Lexington School mapped their school’s mission in Atlas. Keep in mind that this is only one approach. Your Account Manager will help you design a process best suited to your school.
Having curriculum and school resources all in one centralized location also helps smooth the self-study process. As schools undergoing accreditation know, the self-study is an opportunity for self-reflection and goal-setting. Each self-study process looks different: surveys, focus groups, PLC’s, teacher reports, etc.
Atlas helps centralize the work. On top if this, schools inevitably also have to analyze their instruction. With robust reporting capabilities in Atlas, which can analyze scope and sequence, interdisciplinary connections, standards alignment, and student assessment, schools can do a deep dive into their instruction to guide their self-study. The opportunities for reflection are infinite.
The process of mapping the self-study allows schools to use it as a resource for the school visit. By mapping your process in Atlas, you can:
- Outline the process on a calendar and assign steps to teacher
- Build out templates to address requirements, such as subject- or grade-level reports
- Attach relevant documentation
Moreover, you document the evidence needed with easy access to curriculum and reporting.
REPORTS AS COURSES
ASSIGN SUBJECT-LEVEL REPORTS TO TEACHERS.
DESIGN A TEMPLATE TO OUTLINE THE RELEVANT REPORTS.
Once the self-study is complete, it is time for the site visit by representatives of the accrediting body or member schools wherein the representatives evaluate the self-study an endure its validity. Here, Atlas also supports.
Atlas centralizes where the report is held and allows the representatives to understand the process and evaluate relevant facets of the school.
Schools using Atlas for accreditation either create logins for the accrediting representatives or create an Atlas public site where they publish relevant parts of their curriculum, including accreditation materials. Both are equally viable options.
By giving logins, you can design a dashboard with relevant reports, resources, curriculum, etc. for the representatives. Or, by creating a public site, you can monitor which parts of the curriculum is published.
For example, knowing the full site visit team may not be familiar with Atlas, helped Academy at the Lakes create a detailed welcome letter with a step-by-step guide for using Atlas for the review (right).
Follow-Up and Re-Accreditation
Once the self-study and site visit are complete, the school accreditation process often involves follow-up on areas for improvement. Schools capitalizing on Atlas’s planning capabilities often map out their plan for improvement following the recommendations from the accrediting body.
Then, when the time for midterm or progress reports as well as re-accreditation comes, schools can detail how they implemented past recommendations. As well, curriculum is archived form year to year, so schools generate reports showing growth and change form one academic year to the next. This way, the school both qualifies and quantifies their process for change and demonstrates their continued dedication to improvement.
School accreditation is an improvement process and an accountability system. School accreditation encourages and facilitates continuous growth and improvement, provides a means for greater transparency, fosters increased involvement and greater commitment, and builds commitment and a deeper understanding of the improvement efforts. School accreditation is an exciting and fruitful journey, and Atlas will support you in streamlining and improving your process.
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