Accreditation in Independent Schools: Perceptions of Outcomes Associated with the Process

Jones, Charles, Administration and Supervision - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hampton, Mark, University Budget Office, University of Virginia

The purpose of this descriptive study was to explore internal stakeholders' (teacher, administrator, or trustee) perceptions regarding 15 critical outcomes – in both theory ("stated goals") and practice ("outcomes") – associated with the accreditation process within their independent schools. Further, the research attempted to gauge whether or not these perceptions were influenced by respondents' roles within the school or time since the accreditation visit occurred. All respondents were from National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)-member institutions that had undergone a site visit within the past two years.
Fifteen question sets reflecting the stated goals of accreditation were made into a web-based survey. Each question set contained three questions about 15 stated goals of the accreditation process; a stated goals section, an outcome section, and a qualitative section allowing for a comment on why an outcome had fallen short of "very much achieved" during the practical application of the accreditation timeline.
The sample used for the research included 255 individuals from 24 separate schools within one of the largest NAIS-affiliated regional accrediting associations. Percentages, medians, and ranks were used to analyze data while Pearson's chi-squared was used to test for independence of responses with the independent variables. Limited amounts of qualitative data were collected to contextualize quantitative analysis.
Three major conclusions were reached. First, questions arose as to whether or not independent-school trustees were sufficiently engaged in the accreditation process. Second, the number of stated goals perceived as critical and the perceived difficulty of certain outcomes to be achieved were both of concern. Third, the question sets "student achievement" and "teacher learning and teaching" ranked lowest of all despite their foundational nature and recent national prominence in the era of No Child Left Behind.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
independent school, accreditation, perception, outcomes, trustee, teacher, administrator
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