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Accreditation Is Important: Finding Quality in the Wide World of New England Private Schools

Independent schools are privately funded and have greater autonomy than public schools in how they administer curriculum, implement learning methodologies, and measure student performance. Each school is unique, giving your family more choices when searching for the right fit for your child. But how can you ensure that your preferred school is committed to rigorous standards, continuous improvement, and operational best practices? Look for accreditation from an independent organization.

Accreditors provide quality assurance by affirming that a school is living up to its unique mission, meeting industry-wide standards, setting measurable goals for ongoing improvement, and is held professionally accountable through periodic evaluation.

Who Accredits Schools?

The Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE) is a regional accrediting body that accredits schools serving grades K–12. The Association accepts a wide variety of schools as members, ranging from boarding and day schools, single-gender and all-gender schools, schools that are religiously affiliated and those that are not, schools with progressive pedagogies such as Montessori and Waldorf, and those with more traditional educational practices. AISNE itself is recognized by the International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA), which articulates and advocates for independent school best practices in partnership with school accreditors across the United States and internationally.

AISNE’s evaluation process respects a school’s individuality while also holding it accountable for achieving its own stated mission and educational goals. Through the AISNE accreditation process, a school must demonstrate how it aligns with 14 rigorous standards, which address all aspects of the school, from governance and leadership to operations and student experience.

“Accreditation provides a ‘North Star’ so that as schools innovate and meet the needs of their current students, families can still expect the quality of the school’s academics and practices to remain exceptional,” says Sara Wilson, director of membership and accreditation at AISNE. “Our accreditation process requires a school to engage in deep self-evaluation that includes the collection of community input about all aspects of its program and operations. A team of trained reviewers then evaluates whether the school is doing what they say they’re doing, and assesses that they have the leadership and adequate resources to accomplish their stated objectives so they not only survive but thrive into the future.”