By Jane Larsson, Executive Director, CIS
Our global community of international schools and their unique contexts is diverse and many. The accompanying agencies and organizations that play a part in their external evaluation and quality standards in education is also diverse and many.
Some schools must work with local government evaluation requirements (Queensland, South Australia, Victoria). Some have ties to national systems (e.g. American, British), and some undergo curriculum evaluation, like the four International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes.
The cyclical nature of school accreditation and curriculum evaluations can be challenging for schools to coordinate when working with multiple organizations. When they are not working in partnership, schools can feel like they are in a never-ending cycle of review, effort, and report, with little time to celebrate their achievements and enjoy the impact on their school community.
That’s where our partnerships with the IB and other accreditation agencies help schools to manage their evaluation cycles more efficiently and effectively.
In brief, here’s how it works
CIS member schools are encouraged to contact us with requests to align our evaluations with their established accrediting agency for the school’s benefit and continuous improvement. This alignment may include synchronized on-site visits, keeping to a minimum the time external evaluators are in a school. You can scroll down to see the existing partnerships we have in place.
Several agencies use our protocol when we synchronize our visits
Through our US accreditation partnerships with NEASC, MSA, and WASC, we are reminded of the global recognition and quality of our CIS International Accreditation’s protocol. We partner with several US accreditation agencies at a school’s request, all using the CIS International Accreditation protocol as the evaluative framework to support schools when joining our respective accreditation cycles.
We also have a recognition agreement with the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). Going forward, CIS Accredited schools that apply and successfully complete the COBIS membership application process will be recognized as COBIS Accredited Members.
We have different types of partnerships with different agencies, all with the shared goal of collaboration that strengthens our work and presents a more aligned and beneficial experience for schools. The list of agencies by country further below is not exhaustive but presents a useful overview.
Plus, we have an MoU with the International Baccalaureate (IB)
Our Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Baccalaureate (IB) to synchronize IB programme evaluation with our accreditation process has now been in place for 10 years.
When you consider the nature, system-neutral positioning and philosophical alignment of the CIS and the IB missions, our partnership is a natural one and the longest established of all our partnerships. Our MoU means that schools have the ability to embed IB programme evaluation within their CIS International Accreditation process.
Our well-established practice of working with the IB evaluation teams is strong, collaborative, and highly collegial. Going forward, a priority for us is to further align our evaluative and support work with all of our partners in the area of inclusion via diversity, equity and anti-racism (I-DEA).
We do outreach to governmental and private national agencies
We actively foster and develop relationships with national and international organizations responsible for the quality of education and school evaluation around the world. This includes Ministries and Departments of Education as well as private national agencies. Read more about the global recognition of CIS International Accreditation.
As we consider the diverse and unique contexts of our schools and their local regulatory environments, we engage in professional dialogue with a range of governmental and private agencies working with a significant number of CIS member schools.
Here are some examples of country-specific agency partnerships:
- Australia—We work in cooperation with the Queensland Department of Education and Training to coordinate our respective activities to benefit schools undergoing the review and evaluation/accreditation processes with both parties. Our common purpose is to support ongoing school improvement that focuses on high-quality learning, to provide students with the knowledge, skills and abilities to contribute meaningfully and productively in their local communities and ultimately, as global citizens, and to enable and support the institutional strength necessary to sustain that learning.
- The Victorian Department of Education and School Reform Board continue to endorse the alignment of the CIS International Accreditation process with the Department’s school review process. And, we are currently working with the government in South Australia to further align evaluation for our schools there too.
- The Netherlands—Nuffic (the Dutch organization for internationalization of education) recognizes CIS International Accreditation as a “valid alternative to American regional accreditation organisations”.
- Canada—The Independent Schools Association of British Columbia (ISABC) recognise the validity of CIS International Accreditation on a 5-year cycle as a mark of quality assurance as they consider schools for membership in the association, fulfilling their requirement for accreditation to ensure the highest educational, leadership and administration standards.
- Thailand—On specific request by a school, the CIS International Accreditation process can be carried out in conjunction with inspection by ONESQA in Thailand (Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment). This process uses an extra set of criteria, which covers the specific national context, enabling a school to avoid duplication of effort, and if successful, leads not only to CIS-Accredited status but also official recognition by the national ministry.
- UK—The Council of British International Schools (COBIS), the British Schools of the Middle East (BSME) and the Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA) all recognize the validity of CIS International Accreditation on a 5-year cycle as a mark of quality assurance as they consider schools for membership in their respective associations.
- USA—On specific request by a school, we will collaborate with national accreditation agencies to carry out joint or synchronized evaluations, including school visits. Three US accreditation agencies, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA/CESS), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and The Commission on International Education at the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) have agreed to collaborate with CIS in carrying out joint evaluations, using the CIS International Accreditation protocol as one that is philosophically aligned with their own standards and expectations. Joint evaluation means that one Evaluation Team will work in a school using the CIS accreditation protocol, providing a ‘seamless’ process which avoids duplication of effort. Schools choose and contract with both CIS and the collaborating agency, with each agency making an independent decision regarding the conferral of accreditation. If both agencies' decision is positive, the school will achieve dual accreditation.
One of the reasons I joined CIS was because it is one of the few organizations working directly with both international schools and higher education institutions. Serving a membership community that represents the full continuum of formative education is an exciting responsibility and full of potential. We have a holistic view of the challenges faced in member institutions—from early years to university. Together, we're in a stronger position to 'shape the future of education' by facilitating unique connections and collaborations across this continuum.
Our work to partner with the IB and accreditation organizations plays a big role in supporting and attracting member schools who are looking for our leadership and support to overcome challenges and, on a functional operations level, seeking the alignment of multiple accreditation cycles wherever possible so that they can step out of what can feel like a never-ending accreditation loop, celebrate the positive impacts of their accreditation achievements, and have breathing time to see the rewards of the ongoing improvements that their efforts will continue to bring before the next accreditation cycle begins.
Read more about:
- the global recognition of CIS International Accreditation
- CIS Perspectives on international school evaluation