Recognition Guiding Principles

The ICAISA Recognition Process is modeled after the accreditation process for schools. ICAISA maintains a set of Guiding Principles that serve as the foundation for the Recognition Process.

Recognition Guiding Principles
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Guiding Principles

ICAISA Criteria articulate essential elements of an accrediting association’s operations and practices.

The Association:
C1: Defines the parameters and types of schools that are appropriate for its accreditation program.

C2: Maintains comprehensive standards which all schools must meet. The standards address all areas of school life including mission, governance, finance, leadership, program, and operations.

C3: Delivers an accreditation process that consists of a continuous cycle: self-study by the school, visit and report by a team of volunteer peer reviewers, action by the association, and follow-up by the school and the association.

C4: Designates a decision-making body that has sufficient expertise and structures to oversee the accreditation process and determine accreditation status.

C5: Offers formal and effective preparation and training for all participants in the accreditation process, including team chairs and members, heads of school and self-study coordinators, and the association’s board and accreditation committee.

C6: Maintains policies and procedures that ensure fairness and impartiality, confidentiality, and freedom from conflicts of interest, both in appearance and in fact, in all aspects of the accreditation process.

C7: Ensures that the school’s self-study process is mission-driven, comprehensive, and inclusive of all stakeholder groups.

C8: Ensures that the self-study includes reflection, analysis, identification of strengths and opportunities for improvement, and artifacts/documents as evidence.

C9: Implements guidelines for visiting team size and qualifications and appoints a team that conducts a site visit of sufficient length while school is in session. If there is more than one campus, each campus is visited during the accreditation process. The visiting team observes the program and interviews school staff, trustees, students, parents/guardians, and others as appropriate.

C10: Appoints a visiting team chair to ensure the visiting team’s effectiveness and to protect the integrity of the process.

C11: Ensures that the visiting team validates the self-study, evaluates the school’s compliance with standards as supported by documentation/evidence, and writes a report with commendations and recommendations to guide the school’s continuous improvement.

C12: Gives the head of school an opportunity to review the report of the visiting team in advance of the association taking action on its accreditation.

C13: Notifies the board chair, as well as the head of school, concerning decisions related to a school’s accreditation.

C14: Has a clear decision-making and appeal process regarding accreditation status and/or changes in the accreditation status. Such policies are available to members.

C15: Monitors the school’s compliance with accreditation standards and its progress in addressing the recommendations from the visiting team report.

C16: Solicits reports from schools about substantive institutional changes and reviews the school’s accreditation status in light of those changes.

C17: Solicits feedback from schools and visiting teams about their experience with the accreditation process.

C18: Engages in regular evaluation and review of its standards and accreditation process.

C19: Has a process, available to the public and clearly explained, to handle complaints against member schools.


Each ICAISA-recognized member association must have a set of accreditation standards for its schools that demonstrate sufficient alignment with the following ICAISA Core Standards. Association standards should address all areas of school program and operations, including:

CS1: The School has a clear mission statement that is regularly reviewed, informs all decision making, and is understood by all school constituents.

CS2: The School has a governing body that engages in strategic planning, demonstrates effective oversight of resources sufficient to advance the mission of the school, and provides for long-term financial sustainability.
CS3: The governing body delegates the operational and educational leadership of the school to the head of school, provides appropriate support to the Head, and regularly evaluates the Head’s performance through a mutually agreed upon procedure.
CS4: The governing body has clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and committee structures that support its effective operations and are understood by the community.
CS5: The governing body understands its legal and fiduciary responsibilities and oversees periodic financial audits.

CS6: The School’s program aligns with its mission, and is congruent with the principles of academic integrity, permitting and encouraging freedom of inquiry, diversity of viewpoints, and independent and critical thinking.
CS7: The School demonstrates that its educational programs, instructional practices, and institutional culture are informed by current research regarding how students learn.
CS8: Procedures are in place to assess individual student growth; assessment data is used to evaluate and revise the educational program; and student progress is communicated effectively and appropriately to students and families.
CS9: The program supports the development of the knowledge and capacities students will need to achieve independence, lead purposeful and ethical lives, and contribute positively to a global community.
CS10: The school ensures access to support and resources so that all students are able to participate equitably in the educational program, with attention to students’ intellectual, social, physical, aesthetic, and emotional development.
CS11: The school promotes an equitable, just, and inclusive community of adults and students, fosters a culture of learning, and inspires all members of the community to respect and value diversity.
CS12: The school demonstrates a commitment to environmental sustainability for current and future generations.
CS13: The residential program, including homestay, reflects the mission of the school and is staffed appropriately to provide a physically and psychologically safe environment for boarding students. The residential life program integrates boarding and day students and provides a comprehensive experience that promotes student growth and development beyond the academic program.

CS14: The school has effective administrative and leadership structures to provide for the assessment, planning, and innovation of the educational program and to oversee the school’s operations.
CS15: The management of operating and capital funds is compliant with generally accepted accounting principles and practices and supports financial sustainability. These systems support strategic financial planning, budgeting, and controls to ensure the school operates legally and transparently in compliance with governmental regulations.
CS16: The school has sufficient financial resources to support its program and the needs of the students and staff.
CS17: The school’s fundraising program supports its mission and educational program and contributes to the school’s financial health.
CS18: The school is transparent in its admission and retention policies and provides information that accurately describes the school, including its mission, tuition and fees, financial assistance and process, and capacity to meet the needs of students.
CS19: The physical plant and infrastructure support the mission of the school, enable the school to implement its program effectively, and provide a safe and healthy environment.
CS20: Faculty and staff are sufficient in number and well-qualified through education, training, and/or experience to meet the needs of all students.
CS21: The school has rigorous operational procedures that detail appropriate emotional and physical boundaries between students and employees to ensure that all adults who interact with students, including employees, volunteers and governing board members/owners, are qualified to work safely with and protect the students in their care.
CS22: The school implements clearly-defined programs for regular supervision and evaluation that foster professional growth of the administration, faculty, and staff.
CS23: The school actively supports the professional development of all employees through allocation of time and resources.
CS24: Personnel and human resources practices provide equitable and ethical treatment of all faculty, administrators, and staff.

CS25: The school has a process to ensure that it demonstrates compliance with all local, state/provincial, and federal/national laws and regulations.
CS26: The school ensures that it provides appropriate care and support of students and employees, including attention to child protection and to adult and student health, safety, and well-being.


Essential Commitments articulate the association’s commitment to accreditation as a vehicle for continuous school improvement and its capacity to execute an effective school accreditation program. The Commitments form institutional priorities that both support the accreditation process and encourage school improvement within the association’s membership. ICAISA’s recognized member associations must demonstrate sufficient commitment and capacity to align with each of the following Essential Commitments to Strategic Thinking and Action.

EC1: Articulate the Purpose and Value of the Association’s Accreditation Program The Association views accreditation as a primary part of its mission and a vehicle for school improvement. Association leaders, Board, staff, and volunteers articulate and promote the value of the Association’s accreditation program.

EC2: Turn Strategy into Action
The Association assesses the evolving educational, environmental, financial, cultural, and other strategic landscapes, and engages in strategic, long-term planning, articulating the Association’s strategic priorities for the future.

EC3: Align Needs and Resources
The Association’s resources (including human and financial resources) are well-managed and sufficient to support the strategic and operational objectives of the Association’s accreditation program.

EC4: Evaluate and Adapt the Accreditation Standards and Process
The Association adapts its accreditation standards and process in order to a) promote school quality and sustainability, b) remain relevant in a changing world, and c) respond to the emerging needs of member schools.

EC5: Promote Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
The Association articulates and demonstrates its commitment to these values through the accreditation process, guided by the missions of both the Association and its member schools.

EC6: Encourage Professional Learning for the Association and its Members
The Association provides ongoing learning opportunities within the Association and for its members, recognizing that professional growth and development is a core purpose of the accreditation process.

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ICAISA offers several membership options including full membership and associate membership. ICAISA also offers sponsorship opportunities. Join us today!

As a Head of School, I believe strongly in the accreditation process which helps us improve our mission critical work with students and families. ICAISA sets the international standards for school accreditation at a very high level and our schools and students benefit as a result.

– MO Copeland, Head of School, Oregon Episcopal School