By David Harding
The Accreditation team, headed by Stephen Deck, recently completed a revision of their accreditation protocol called Inspire. According to Deck, after several years of working on the standards, indicators, and the process, the protocol was ready to be rolled out this past year, and the team wanted to see how the new protocol worked firsthand.
The previous protocol had 8 standards; Inspire has 20. However, the new standards are more focused and shorter. Deck explained that Inspire also shifts from the theme of “compliance” to “effectiveness.” He explained, “It’s not just, ‘Do you have your curriculum documents in order so we can check the box?’ It’s more, ‘How effective are you utilizing your curriculum?’”
Deck continued, “The main change in this new Inspire protocol is that the true focus is on effectiveness, reflection, collaboration, and overall school improvement.”
Last spring, the accreditation team conducted 17 pilot visits to schools using Inspire across all U.S. divisions and in international schools. (The visiting teams are made up partly of volunteers.) During the visits, the team gathered feedback to assess the new protocol’s effectiveness. They surveyed the pilot schools, team chairs, and the team members regarding the protocol’s effectiveness. After analyzing the feedback, the Inspire team implemented a few small, helpful changes. Deck said that the feedback was very positive and that Inspire was well received by schools, chairs, and the teams.
One thing that survey respondents noted was the collaborative and reflective nature of the updated process. These two components help schools do a deep dive and “really self-assess their school and define the key areas that will help their schools improve over the next few years,” stated Deck.
Central Christian School (CCS) in Redmond, Oregon, is one of the schools that hosted an accreditation team visit. CCS’s head of school is ACSI Board member Elisa Carlson. Carlson said, “One of the first things we noticed about Inspire is that there are six domains. With a school our size, we were able to have more people on each domain team, which allowed us to have deeper conversations about the standards and indicators. When we put together the self-study, there were several voices involved, and we were able to bring in the survey data, and it all linked together in such a lovely way.”
Carlson summed up the visit thus: “We’re thankful that we had such strong leaders come to be able to look at our school and to give us great feedback. We know that they were seeking the Lord on behalf of Central Christian. We’re excited for what the future holds, knowing that we’re going to prayerfully be inspired as we move forward.”