Tough Question #1: Why aren’t all Christian schools accredited?

Source: ben in CHI via Flickr

If Christian schools are formed to bring honor to God through the education of children about God’s Word and world, then why don’t some Christian schools ask others to come in to see if they are doing just that in the best possible ways? Why aren’t they asking for help from fellow educators and holding themselves accountable to identified standards of excellence through an accreditation process? This question has disturbed me over the past several years as I have worked with schools to help them improve what they are doing through school accreditation.

Here are several good reasons why Christian schools should be seeking accreditation:

  1. To connect what you say with what you do – A lofty mission is a wonderful thing, but not worth the paper it is written on if it is not lived out. If we are to offer our best we must know what the best is and connect our missions that talk about excellence to practices of excellence. We need to ask others for their objective opinions to see if we are connecting mission and practice.
  2. We ought to submit to one another – We ought to, especially as Christians, be willing to approach one another in humility and seek wisdom from each other. If we think we have it all together and don’t need what we might learn from others, then we are perhaps manifesting a spirit of arrogance that is not Christ-like. We all have things to learn from each other and we are accountable to each other as fellow workers in Christ’s kingdom.
  3. To offer our best out of love and gratitude – If as followers of Christ we seek to offer our lives as living sacrifices and offer our best efforts as praise, then we must seek out marks of excellence – what is the best and how can we work toward it? In both Old Testament and New Testament we see examples of God’s displeasure with offerings done out of tradition or cognition and not from the heart. He was pleased with those who gave their best from the heart and was not concerned with the size of the gift.
  4. We should not operate from a spirit of fear or inferiority – Sometimes we may be reluctant to open our schools to others because we don’t “have it all together yet.” The truth is that every school is operating on its own journey of situations and circumstances, working with the people and resources God has blessed them with. I have done multiple visits and have yet to find a school that has everything in place. We are all working with strengths and weaknesses and so this awareness should not hold us back.
  5. We should use our time and resources wisely – Some may feel accreditation is spending extra time or resources that the school does not have to find out things they already know. The accreditation process does take some extra time and energy but it is a valuable thing to do because it has the possibility to affirm and/or redirect current practices and future visions, to focus many ideas and goals down to the most critical ones, and to help give guidance to further improvement steps. It can be a critical lever to help move improvement efforts forward with board, staff, and stakeholders. The process can help the school take a comprehensive look at what it is doing, how it is meeting its mission, and how to best use its resources to move forward.
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3 Comments

Filed under distinctively Christian, leadership, mission development, mission measurement, resources, student outcomes

3 responses to “Tough Question #1: Why aren’t all Christian schools accredited?

  1. Do you think we can achieve all the goals in your points above without the expense of accreditation? Or in a fallen world is the accountability necessary?

    • Possibly – but the objective view from others is very helpful. It is also helpful to use standards and rubrics that describe excellence and goals to work toward. The process gives schools opportunity and motivation to get things in order that may not normally happen – you know how we clean up the house before we have visitors! The work done on the process is part of building a continuous improvement culture into your school DNA. After the visit the final report can be a positive lever for improvement with board and staff.
      We all need accountability, but I think that site visits are typically very much affirming and encouraging. They can also be a helpful source of new ideas. Schools should pick the best expertise they can find to be on their visiting teams!

  2. Patrick De Jong

    From my perspective the process of accreditation is a valuable tool if used properly. Having been through the process in two different settings it has in my mind met it purpose.
    To assist a school in causing change toward improving a school is very valuable. To be able to do that with a distinct Christian World View is paramont. Sometimes the interior voices are not always heard even though they are speaking. Having someone from the outside affirm direction or suggest improvement areas can be wake up call and/or affirm the internal voices speaking.
    I will express that I have grave conerns about CSI hooking its proverbial wagon to Advanced Ed. and its accreditation process. CSI has two very valuable intruments af accreditation that schools can use for accrediting purposes. I am deeply concerned that these tools will be lost or at best subjugated to Advanced Ed’s instrument in a very short time. I will predict that “Vision to Action” and “Measuring the Mission”, which were developed to assist schools in meeting their goals of improving and providing solid Christian Education with a Christian World View, will be lost in what I precieve to be a very vanilla approach to accrediation and an almost entirely data driven process.

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