AMS/NAEYC: New Joint Accreditation Process

Article excerpt

Accreditation certifies to the general public that a school community meets established criteria or standards. Accreditation is a declaration that a school is what it says it is and does what it says it does. Although accreditation serves as an indicator of quality for a school, the primary goal of the AMS school accreditation process is continuous school improvement.

The availability of joint accreditation is an important service that AMS provides to member schools. AMS has a long-standing agreement with the six regional accrediting bodies. When an AMS school enters a joint accreditation process, it enjoys the credibility, recognition, and expertise of the larger educational community. The larger educational community also is exposed to excellent schools that are practicing the Montessori approach.

The AMS Accreditation Commission and representatives from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) engaged in a series of discussions focused on school accreditation. Our discussions began with gathering information and thoroughly researching our accreditation processes. We then did a detailed crosswalk of NAEYC Standards and AMS Standards. The NAEYC Standards are based on research. Both NAEYC and AMS Standards reflect best practices, in other words, developmentally appropriate practice. While there are non-negotiable standards for Montessori schools, we found that AMS and NAEYC were in substantial agreement about quality educational programs.

In addition to the NAEYC Standards, there are non-negotiables with which Montessori schools seeking accreditation must be in compliance, including:

* Montessori credentialed teachers certified at the level they are teaching,

* mixed-age groupings of children,

* an educational philosophy that embraces Montessori principles,

* evidence of a Strategic Plan.

The Accreditation Commission has announced a protocol that is now being utilized by AMS schools to achieve AMS/ NAEYC accreditation. It is important to note that this protocol is available only to AMS member schools that serve children through the age of 6. (If a school has an elementary component, joint accreditation through a regional agency is available.) In providing this service, our goal is to guide schools through a renewal process that will allow them to be recognized as excellent and committed to improvement and growth.

The following provides the sequence of steps for schools seeking AMS/ NAEYC accreditation.

* CAMS member schools serving children through age 6 apply for accreditation from BOTH AMS and NAEYC. Information is available at www.amshq.org and www.naeyc.org.

*Complete the NAEYC self-study. *Request a validating team from NAEYC.

*After successful completion of the NAEYC process, send documentation that you have achieved NAEYC accreditation to the AMS office of School Consultation and Accreditation (ScandA).

*Send documentation of compliance with the non-negotiable standards listed above to the AMS office of ScandA.

*The director of ScandA will assign a validator from AMS to validate the process. …