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NWAIS Self-Study, Accreditation at Bush

Quality Without Standardization


“Independent schools are in a continual process of development. Through accreditation’s structured reflection, we can identify areas for growth and benefit from the experience and perspective of our peer schools.” —NWAIS

Independent schools are built on an exciting foundation—the ability to provide a unique education, to set our own curriculum, and deliver on our mission. Independent schools such as The Bush School hold themselves to a high bar; we work hard to ensure that our programs support our mission and values and equip our students for a lifetime of learning. We do this through the process of accreditation. The Bush School is a part of the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS), a non-profit organization ruled by a Board of Governors that provides rigorous accreditation over an eight-year cycle.
 
The NWAIS accreditation process is based on the principle that independent schools are in a continual process of development. At each step of the process, there is possibility for improvement. Through accreditation’s structured reflection, we can identify areas for growth and benefit from the experience and perspective of our peer schools. NWAIS Accreditation Standards and Indicators describe the elements the Association has determined are necessary for quality institutions to possess, based on decades of experience.
 
Bush is currently in the self-study portion of the accreditation cycle, in which our school responds to questions about our mission, culture, program, commitment to diversity, and commitment to care. This document articulates how the school fulfills its mission and meets the NWAIS Standards and Indicators. Answering these questions requires the involvement of all Bush faculty, as well as portions of our staff, Board of Trustees, and parents. Following our finalized Self-Study document in the fall of 2017, we will host a visiting team on campus in early spring of 2018. This team will be comprised of educators and administrators from peer schools, who will conduct a thorough review of Bush and interview all constituencies in our community. The visiting team will write a report that is presented to the NWAIS Accreditation Committee, which then makes a recommendation to the NWAIS Board of Governors about the school’s accreditation status.
 
Even after the accreditation decision has been reached, we will still have work ahead of us as the NWAIS Annual Report requires that schools report back on their progress in addressing the major recommendations from the report. Additionally, three years after the visit, we will submit a Response Report addressing all recommendations.
 
As NWAIS explains, “accreditation uses peer review to promote quality without standardization, ensuring each school remains true to its values while delivering a high-quality educational experience.” The eight-year process holds our school accountable, offers us an opportunity to gather and reflect, and offers parents and alumnae/i the confidence that Bush is a valuable institution true to our values.
 
Coming up in this series:
A detailed overview of what the self-study means for Bush
Bush’s involvement in founding NWAIS
Our history of accreditation
 
Further reading:
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