Schools often aim to achieve International School Accreditation through an independent body as it represents a form of of quality assurance. In the eyes of other schools, universities and parents it is a way to determine high quality standards.

There are many organisations that offer this with varying levels of credibility but they will all measure the schools operational performance against a clear set of criteria and standards.  

International School Accreditation is hard work! It is as simple as that! The process is trying to determine, through evidence provided by you, that you are delivering the quality you espouse to deliver. When a school achieves accreditation the organisation is basically verifying the operations, systems, procedures, standards, values and beliefs are realistically delivered, in practice.

None of the following accreditation bodies are specifically endorsed by GSE and international schools should make a personal preference that matches their needs, however the following list highlights the most common ones:

Council of International Schools (CIS)

Possibly the most well know in International School Accreditation for K-12 schools, CIS is a membership community that helps schools access new education practices, providing recognition for accomplishments, attracting qualified teachers and connecting students with leading universities. Schools who wish to be accredited by the CIS need to be devoted to its mission and vision for students, focus on quality of teaching and student learning; and constantly seek improvement. The process is thorough and comprehensive over an extended period of time.

Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

WASC is a body that historically was tasked with accrediting K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions in California, Hawaii and several territories of the United States however they now have a very strong presence internationally. The process involves schools carrying out a self-study and hosting a self-study visit. In addition, schools have to come up with a schoolwide action plan and evidence of student achievements and ongoing improvements. It has grown in popularity in recent years and is widely recognised.

Accreditation Service for International Schools Colleges and Universities (ASIC)

ASIC is an independent, government approved accreditation body specialising in the accreditation of schools, colleges, universities, training organisations and online and distance education providers, both in the UK and overseas. It benchmarks education providers against rigorous UK quality standards and ensures that an institution meets high standards of education, welfare and best practice.

The Council of British International Schools (COBIS)

COBIS is a membership association of British International Schools of global quality and corporate Supporting Members. COBIS hosts a range of conferences and professional development events, both ‘face to face’ and online, for teachers, middle leaders, and support staff as well as an Annual Conference in London in May for Heads, Governors (Board Members) and members of school Senior Leadership Teams.

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) 

NEASC was first established to maintain and accredit high standards for all levels of the American curriculum. It is made up of three commissions including Independent Schools, International Education and Public Schools. The NEASC accreditation process encourages school improvement through a process of continuous Self-Reflection and peer review. The award of NEASC accredited status indicates that the member school has achieved high standards of professional performance and is committed to continuing growth and development.

Middle States Association Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools

MSA-CESS historically, has operated in the mid-Atlantic region (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia), but it expanded its scope to include schools and institutions overseas. The Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools are affiliated with the United States State Department’s Office of Overseas Schools and provide accreditation services to American and international style schools.

Curriculum Accreditation eg. IB, UK and others

Each curriculum body will have its own unique model of accreditation.

Firstly, in order to allow you to use their curriculum they will want you to demonstrate your capacity to do so. The application process will include proof that your leadership is strong and competent. Staff match the profile required to deliver both the leadership and the teaching model. Resources, facilities, policies, systems and procedures. Are you ready to begin?

Secondly the process will usually include a follow up on inspections to verify you are on track and following through with the promises you have made on quality, systems and standards. Sometime you may begin with an “interim” approval, “candidacy” status or similar. This is almost like a probation process that allows you time to prove you can achieve the standards. Another model commonly used is a “self study” process where you are allowed and encouraged to spend time on a learning journey aimed to reflect and improve systems so you can get better. Ultimately, although they are seen as an accountability and judgement process the models are philosophically based in a frame of improvement. The body wants you to succeed and their plan aims to help you achieve that.

Joint Accreditation

As more and more schools seek to recognise themselves with more than one accreditation body, some of the associations have created models whereby they work in partnership with each other. This way schools do not need to duplicate processes and they can use one process that demonstrates quality for multiple purposes.

A good example of this is International Alliance for School Accreditation: The Council of International Schools (CIS), the Middle States Association (MSA), the North West Association of Accredited Schools (NAAS), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) 

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Global Services in Education is a full service education management company led by education experts. They are proven education and business leaders who know how to set up and manage international schools in unique cultural contexts. GSE lead education projects from the initial idea to set up and full management. Kindergarten, Primary, Middle and High School, Universities and Adult education.

Greg Parry
Greg Parry CEO

School Acquisition: GSE represents investors looking to acquire schools or evaluate potential of school group expansion.

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