MSA Team Chair & High School Principal at the American School of Kuwait
Originally posted on Behind the Closed Door www.coetail.com/tarawaudby
On a recent accreditation trip that I chaired, late one evening as we were jointly working through a section of the report, it struck me how many valid skills make up school accreditation.
As a Visiting Team, we are tasked with reading reports, gathering evidence from multiple sources to validate the report, posing thoughtful questions without leading, and ultimately synthesizing pages of information into concise and precise statements of evidence, praise and recommendation. Two tasks stand out as most difficult in all of this. Firstly, we have to sift through a tremendous amount of information as we write our succinct report. Secondly, we are always operating through various lenses of communication, and we have to be able to place aside our individual biases and experiences to make accurate assessments.
From the school end, the process is even more involved. We strive to involve the whole community, read through standards, gather evidence to make a valid self-assessment and then write a report that accurately summarizes who we are.
From both ends, we are asking for the highest levels of research and analysis. Synthesizing information. Gathering evidence from multiple sources. Posing questions that will allow for multiple sources of evidence. Writing precisely using the evidence gathered. And so forth.
Essentially, skills we want all of our students to master.
In all the accreditation protocols I have read, Mission/Philosophy or Guiding Statements are at the forefront. Wouldn’t it be a great research project to have the students complete the analysis and the report for that section? Imagine giving them the standards to read through, dissect and analyze. Then having them start to gather the evidence and pose the questions, perhaps even conduct the interviews. And finally, synthesize their findings to write the report, either from the self-study end or the Visiting Team end. This is one of the most valuable and authentic research projects I can think of and an idea I will definitely explore more fully. What a great way to invest students in their own schools, all the while developing more critical and thoughtful thinkers.