An independent school is just that: Because it is privately funded (primarily by tuition, typically), it isn’t beholden to one-size-fits-all teaching methodologies or learning benchmarks to which public schools must adhere. While many parents are relieved to find a learning environment that is driven by the school’s unique mission and responsive to their child’s needs and interests, it’s important to ensure their chosen school rigorously adheres to high standards and best practices for school operations. An independent accrediting organization provides that quality assurance by making sure a school is living up to its ideals, meeting established standards
and best practices, and is held accountable through periodic evaluation and setting goals for ongoing improvement.
The Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE) is a regional accrediting body that accepts as members a wide variety of schools, ranging from boarding and day schools, single sex and co-ed schools, schools that are religiously affiliated and those that are not, schools with alternative pedagogies such as Montessori or Waldorf, and those with more traditional educational practices. AISNE is a member of the International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation, which articulates and advocates for independent school best practices in partnership with regional 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 document how it aligns with AISNE’s 50 Standards for Accreditation, which address all aspects of the school—from governance and leadership to financial management, facilities, health and safety, staffing, and the educational experience for students. “We ask all schools to explain their curriculum, methods of delivery, methods of assessing student progress, etc. through the self-study process,” says Sara Wilson, director of accreditation at AISNE, “but we respect the individuality of our schools to deliver the curriculum that best meets their unique mission—and we ask them to be reflective about how they are doing in this regard and how they are seeking to continually improve the education they deliver to their students.”
It’s no accident the AISNE member schools discussed in this guide have such a strong focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion: It’s one of the Association’s most important priorities, and an aspect of each school that is evaluated during the accreditation process.
Rest assured that AISNE accredited schools have demonstrated their willingness to be held professionally accountable and have been found by a credible outside evaluator to be meeting a wide range of rigorous standards of good practice.
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