Standards of Accreditation
EXPLANATION OF THE TERM "STANDARD"FACCS considers a "standard" to be a level of achievement that should be attained by a satisfactorily functioning school. Ideally, these "standards" should be met in all areas of school operation and are offered as minimum expectations. The failure of a school to meet a portion of one or more of these "standards" will not necessarily preclude some level of accreditation standing. Therefore, "standards" should be understood to serve as points of reference and comparison in appraising the overall effectiveness of a school.
1.0 ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION
A quality Christian school has a well-developed statement of purpose and mission, which is the result of a philosophy of Christian education based on the Word of God. It demonstrates stable leadership and a well-established organizational structure and system of governance. It also maintains the financial resources necessary to fulfill the mission and vision of the school.
1.1 Prospectus, Philosophy, and Mission
1.1.1 The school has a written statement of the philosophy, vision, mission, and objectives which reflect expectations for student learning and spiritual growth.
1.1.2 The philosophy of the school is based on the Word of God as “the sole rule of faith and practice.”
1.1.3 The school mission statement is clearly communicated and is effectively applied to every aspect of the school’s programs, operation, and curriculum, along with the vision of the overall ministry.
1.1.4 The goals of the ministry are inclusive of the school’s philosophy and mission, and are expressed as short-term goals (1-5 years) and long-term goals (6 or more years).
1.1.5 The prospectus of the school, developed in coordination with the Parent/Student Handbook (See Sample in Appendix), publications, and advertisements, thoroughly addresses consumer protection requirements set forth in state and federal law.
1.2 Governance and Leadership
1.2.1 The school has a governing entity which assumes the responsibility for the development of general school governance policies, maintaining the stated direction of the school ministry, an annual evaluation of the administrator, the financial stability of the school, and has access to general legal counsel.
1.2.2 The school maintains a Policy or Administrative Manual, minutes of the meetings of the governing entity, Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, and other data in a professional manner. School policy is clearly communicated to school staff through a well written Personnel Manual or Faculty Handbook. (See Samples in Appendix)
1.2.3 The governing entity, as charged under corporate policy, is responsible for employing the administrative leadership, and working with that leadership to carry out the stated mission of the school and the achievement of school goals.
1.2.4 The governing entity delegates executive and administrative functions to the administrative head of the school. The administrative head of the school reports to the governing entity of the school and provides leadership that will ensure that the academic, spiritual, technological, and extracurricular programs of the school promote the specified goals for student development.
1.2.5 The administrative head of the school has developed a Crisis Manual, inclusive of a management plan that provides for the training and practice of such a plan.
1.2.6 The school has an appropriate number of administrative personnel.
1.2.7 The administrative head of the school assumes responsibility for the instructional program of the school.
1.2.8 The administrative head oversees an effective system of evaluation for all preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school personnel.
1.2.9 The school leadership provides for an appropriate procedure of maintaining personnel records.
1.3.1 The financial resources of the school are sufficient to adequately support the program of the school in a manner which reflects a commitment to Biblical principles and high standards of excellence.
1.3.2 The school maintains current, accurate, and detailed financial records.
1.3.3 The school maintains adequate property and liability insurance protection, in addition to required state insurance and compensation requirements.
1.3.4 The school conducts an external “unfriendly” audit a minimum of every five (5) years if the student population is less than 500, and every three (3) years if the student population exceeds 500, with annual CPA reviews in the interim years.
1.3.5 The school prepares and operates with an annual budget.
1.3.6 The school’s bookkeeping procedures reflect accepted accounting procedures for receiving, depositing, and disbursing of funds.
1.3.7 The school utilizes a quality system of accounting with adequate offsite backup capabilities.
1.3.8 The school provides a financial compensation package for all employees that is based on training, experience, and/or merit, and that is clearly understood by all personnel.
1.3.9 The school has a salary and benefit schedule for full-time academic faculty that equals a minimum of 65% of the district school system salary schedule. [For schools with an enrollment under 250 students, the salary and benefit schedule must be appropriate to the community standards.]
1.3.10 The school offers financial assistance/scholarship opportunities on a fair and equitable basis as required by Internal Revenue Service Code.
1.4 Cumulative Records
1.4.1 The school maintains current permanent cumulative records for each child in a fireproof filing cabinet, has a protected archival process, and has a backup procedure maintained at a different location than the school for current records.
1.4.2 The school maintains current records of attendance, spiritual, physical, social, and emotional growth, birth, immunization, and physical exams.
1.4.3 The school is knowledgeable of Florida law and has an established policy and procedure for the disposition of cumulative and other student records in the event of closure.
2.0 STAFF AND FACULTY
A quality Christian school shall provide competent and qualified staff/faculty to meet the stated mission and goals of the school.
2.1.1 The governing entity, the head of school, the faculty, and all other personnel are born-again believers in Jesus Christ and are persons of integrity, stability, and good reputation. They are in agreement with the “FACCS/IACCS Statement of Faith.”
2.1.2 The head of the school, other administrators, and the teachers demonstrate a love and respect for children, provide a friendly, professional, and ethical relationship with them, and maintain an understanding of their growth and needs.
2.1.3 All preschool teachers show evidence of required professional and academic training or successful experience to meet the requirements of having knowledge of preschool children, family relations, hygiene, and early childhood growth and development, and are engaged in a continuing education program.
2.1.4 Administrators and teachers at the K4 or younger level meet a minimum of the requirements under state law as to academic credentialing, hours of training, required fingerprint, screening and background checks, annual continuing education, and additional expectations to maintain satisfaction with state law and FACCS Health, Safety, and Sanitation Standards.
2.1.5 All full-time teachers, K5 through grade 12, have a minimum of a BA/BS degree; earned from a reputable conventional college, or specialist credentials, that qualify them to teach the assigned subjects, and maintain required FACCS/IACCS certifications in fields of their proficiency, or have qualified for a waiver.
2.1.6 Administrators, guidance counselors, and Library/Media Specialists meet the educational credentials required.
2.1.7 All teachers are encouraged to continue their professional training by completing a minimum of six (6) credit hours, or 120 in-service hours every five (5) years if Co-Accredited or 90 in-service hours in accord with required FACCS/IACCS Certification.
2.1.8 The school has a sufficient number of full-time faculty members to carry out its educational program effectively.
2.1.9 Teacher turnover does not exceed a five-year annual average of 20%
2.1.10 Schools with alternate specialist instructional faculty satisfy waiver requirements.
2.1.11 All assistant teachers have a minimum of two years of college and are under the supervision of a mentor teacher.
2.1.12 All teachers have been properly listed on the Summary of Staff Chart (See Appendix) and each administrative and academic faculty member has completed the provided FACCS/IACCS Faculty Staff Blank. (See Appendix)
2.1.13 All administrative personnel are capable of carrying out their day-to-day operational responsibilities including program policies, working with local authorities, and fostering the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual development of children.
2.2 Personnel Policy
2.2.1 The school conducts regular faculty meetings that include components of professional development.
2.2.2 The school has a Faculty Manual (See Sample in Appendix) which contains school policies and procedures concerning the teacher's role in the day-to-day operation of the school.
2.2.3 The school has written policies for the qualifications, selection, training, and assignment of substitute teachers.
2.3 Personnel Supervision and Evaluation
2.3.1 Consistent effective supervision and evaluation are followed according to policy for all school personnel.
2.3.2 The school maintains an on-going process of orientation, screening, fingerprinting, and training for volunteers as provided in state law.
3.0 ACADEMIC PROGRAMS
A quality Christian school offers a curriculum that is consistent with the school’s vision, mission, and a Biblical worldview, using instructional strategies that are aligned with the goals and objectives, as taught at each grade and subject level, for student learning, and provided in a comprehensive Academic Manual.
3.1 General Standards
3.1.1 Each applicable program (preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and secondary) is appropriate to each child's developmental level and presents curriculum content that is consistent with the school’s vision, beliefs, and mission.
3.1.2 The school maintains standards which provide for the optimum level of academic opportunity, and “net” core academic hours, for each student and which meet recognized standards of the State of Florida.
3.1.3 The instructional strategies and learning activities of the school focus on the active involvement of students in the learning process and the achievement of essential knowledge and skills as well as on application of higher-order thinking.
3.1.4 The policies governing extracurricular activities are consistent with the school's vision, mission, philosophy, and Biblical standards.
3.1.5 The school maintains single academic classes for each grade level when providing core courses of instruction. [Schools with an enrollment of less than 250 students are exempt from this standard.]
3.1.6 The school maintains a consistent system of discipline appropriate to each age level, and does not utilize corporal punishment.
3.2 Pre-school and Kindergarten
3.2.1 The Pre-school/Kindergarten program is designed to provide each student with an appropriate atmosphere conducive to each child learning proper social techniques, respect for others, and understanding of others.
3.2.2 Each child is assisted in the development of independence, confidence, and self-control through a balanced program of work, rest, and play.
3.2.3 There is evidence that students are provided with opportunities to stimulate their interest in math, science, literature, and Bible.
3.2.4 The program provides activities designed to improve the communication skills of each student, including the preparation for reading and the development of appropriate listening skills.
3.2.5 The program functions in such a way as to meet the expectations of parents within the philosophical scope of the school ministry.
3.2.6 The program includes a minimum of three (3) “net” hours of directed instruction per day.
3.2.7 The program maintains published FACCS/IACCS teacher/pupil ratios.
3.2.8 Gold Seal Designation: Throughout the applicable general Standards for the accreditation of K5 through grade 12 programs there is an identification of core expectations that are equally applicable to a early childhood program, e.g., governance, corporate structure, By-Laws, personnel, qualifications, health, safety, responsibilities to governmental agencies, civil authorities, consumer protection, administrative/Director qualifications, disciplinary procedures, admissions criteria, student assessment, curricula, parental and other collaboration, health screening, continuing program improvement, and so forth. These are key components already stipulated that meet or exceed recognized Gold Seal Standards. These integral Standards, as applicable to the Early Childhood Program seeking recognition, are found in Standards 1.00, 2.00, 3.00-3.26, 4.00, 5.00, 6.00-6.3.0, 6.50, and 7.00. Thus, they are not reiterated in this section. However, self-contained or autonomous early childhood programs seeking Gold Sealrecognition as a part of accreditation must also fully satisfy the additional requirements, for such recognition, as determined in state law and expanded in the FACCS/IACCS Self Study Manual for Gold Seal designation. (See Appendices for complete 2010-2015 Standards).
3.2.9 Provide documentation that the early childhood program of the school has satisfied compliance with the published FACCS/IACCS Minimum Standards for Health, Safety and Sanitation, that such records are annually attested to by notarization of the school head, and on file in the FACCS/IACCS Capital Office for public review. (See the FACCS Health & Safety Minimum Standards in the Appendices and respond to the complete listing of said Standards which are taken from Chapter 65c-22 FAC and other sources.)
3.2.10 The program provides for the identification of strengths, weaknesses, and a continuing process of improvement to strengthen those areas identified, through a school improvement plan.
3.3.1 The elementary program is designed to meet the student’s spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development.
3.3.2 The school utilizes a sequential course of study from grade to grade and subject to subject, which is periodically reviewed and based on appropriate research or long-term verified success.
3.3.3 Instruction is provided by the use of a variety of teaching methods including audio, visual, and tactile methods. Technological skill development is a regular part of the elementary program.
3.3.4 The program includes a minimum of four (4) “net” hours of directed instruction per day for grades 1-3, and five (5) “net” hours of directed instruction per day for grades 4-6.
3.3.5 The program maintains a teacher/pupil ratio that does not exceed 1:30 per class, or 1:18 when administrative and support personnel are included.
3.3.6 The program provides for the identification of strengths, weaknesses, and a continuing process of improvement to strengthen those areas identified through a school improvement process.
3.4.1 The secondary program is appropriate to each child's developmental level and shall present curriculum content that will help them grow spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically, and shall provide learning experiences for the character development of each student in addition to academic challenge.
3.4.2 The students are given enough latitude to become involved in their learning, yet, at the same time, they are taught a variety of academic skills so they can express and use their ever-increasing knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
3.4.3 The program is planned and frequently evaluated by the cooperative effort of teachers and administrators.
3.4.4 The curriculum offerings are in agreement with Biblical truth. Goals and objectives for each subject and grade are developed with an appropriate scope and sequence by a collaborative assessment by the academic leadership and faculty through continuous review.
3.4.5 All courses of instruction meet the minimum “net school hours” and provide a standard core curriculum that meets or exceeds those of the State of Florida Department of Education for high school graduation established at 900 or 1050 hours. (Non-traditional, Distance Learning or Virtual Schools must utilize the FACCS Guide to Evaluation and Accreditation of Christian Schools Distance Learning Manual.)
3.4.6 The school maintains a teacher/pupil ratio that does not exceed 1:30 per class when core course instruction is provided, or 1:18 when administrative and support personnel are included.
3.4.7 The program provides for the identification of strengths, weaknesses, and a continuing process of improvement to strengthen those areas identified through a school improvement process
4.0 FACILITIES and HEALTH and SAFETY
A quality Christian school maintains property, facilities, and equipment which provide a functional, safe, and well-maintained environment for students/faculty in accordance with the school's vision, beliefs, and mission.
4.1.1 The school property and facilities are in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations for private schools.
4.1.2 Buildings are suitable for the type of program offered and the organization of the school and fully compliant with mandated Life & Safety Codes (State and/or Federal).
4.1.3 Attention is given to the attractiveness (internally and externally), the general condition, illumination, heating, ventilation, and general maintenance.
4.1.4 The furniture, equipment, and supplies are of such type, quality, and quantity to make possible the achievement of the objectives of the educational and extra-curricular programs.
4.2 Health and Safety
4.2.1 Each integral program of the school complies with the various health and safety standards established by federal, state, and local governments and is inspected annually for compliance by local fire and health departments and meets the published FACCS/IACCS Health, Safety and Sanitation Standards as provided in the Appendices. Such satisfaction is preliminary to accreditation.
4.2.2 Regular attention to safety measures for the protection of students/faculty is evident.
4.2.3 All areas, both indoors and outdoors, are appropriate for their intended purposes and are adequate to accommodate the classes or the individuals using them.
5.0 SUPPORT SERVICES
A quality Christian school provides for open, non-discriminatory practices in admissions, comprehensive guidance services, a systematic process of assessment and evaluation, library and media services that enhance student learning, the professional development of the faculty, and the technological needs of a quality education in the twenty-first century.
5.1.1 The school clearly states and publicizes all admissions policies, including compliance with state and federal non-discrimination, which provides admissions and employment practice for religious ministries may not discriminate on the basis of “race, color, or ethnicity.” (USC 2000d)
5.1.2 The school accepts at “face-value” transfer credits, in accord with the Florida Uniform Transfer of High School Credits in conformity with that stipulated under State Statute and Florida Board of Education, from other FACCS/IACCS or regionally accredited schools whose accrediting agency is recognized by the National Council for Private School Accreditation (NCPSA) or other regional (MSA, SACS, etc.) or Alliance partners.
5.1.3 The school validates by examination, or other established criteria, credits earned through a non-accredited or home school program in conformity with that stipulated under Florida Statute and the Florida Board of Education.
5.2.1 The school provides comprehensive guidance services for students that include but are not limited to, counseling, appraisal, staff consulting, referral, educational, and career planning. (For schools with an enrollment of less than 250 students, this Standard may be met by providing access to qualified trust guidance services outside of the school.) Academic guidance may be provided by school administration or other designated staff.
5.2.2 The school provides transcripts designed to be easily interpreted by the receiving school. Academic credits earned at the secondary level will be posted on transcripts as provided in the Florida Course Code Directory or Florida Universal Course Code.
5.3.1 The school has a clearly stated policy relating to entrance testing and other factors in accord with the assessment of student learning which can be monitored and evaluated. The program and written criteria shall be planned and frequently evaluated by a cooperative effort of teachers and administrators.
5.3.2 The school annually administers the latest edition of a nationally recognized standardized test to all students K-11, and charts the results of the current year and the past three years of aggregate scores providing a comparison to state, national, and private school norms. The individual results of enrolled students are provided to the parent or guardian in a timely fashion with direction for analysis.
5.4 Library/Media Center
5.4.1 The school provides a library/media service which supports the learning needs of the students and the professional needs of the faculty and staff.
5.4.2 The library/media center provides a balanced book and periodical collection sufficient to meet the needs of the school. This collection provides information for student learning and research as well as for faculty professional development which supports the spiritual and academic advancement of all stakeholders
5.4.3 The school maintains a visionary plan for consistent improvement of the library/media center.
5.5.1 The school maintains a well developed technology program including Internet access for both professional staff and students, and a written policy for use of the Internet by staff and students.
5.5.2 The school has a written technology plan which is implemented and evaluated on a continual basis.
6.0 AUXILIARY SERVICES
A quality Christian school offers various auxiliary services to students and parents that assist the school in fulfilling its vision, mission, and goals.
6.1.1 The transportation program demonstrates safety and regulation in the transportation of students by establishing and maintaining procedures that are in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations including vehicle procurement, maintenance, field trips, recreational or athletic activities, and parent-provided vehicle transportation.
6.2 Food Services
6.2.1 The food service program demonstrates health and nutrition to students by establishing and maintaining procedures that are in accordance with all local, state, and federal requirements for the preparation, handling, storage, and serving of food.
6.3 Extended Care Program
6.3.1 The extended care program (before and after school) provides safety and security by establishing and maintaining procedures that are in accordance with all local, state, and federal requirements for the care of children and meets the published FACCS/IACCS Health, Safety and Sanitation Standards.
6.4 Alumni Relations
6.4.1 The school has an on-going process of relations with alumni to obtain data to help in determining school effectiveness and to establish long-range plans for alumni affairs.
6.5 Parental Involvement
6.5.1 The school encourages parental involvement in classrooms, activities, and parental organizations by establishing and maintaining guidelines that are in conjunction with the school’s vision, beliefs, mission, and goals.
7.0 SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PROCESS
A quality Christian school establishes a continuous process of school improvement for the purpose of assessing the spiritual, educational, and organizational processes of the school by engaging in a plan which will provide for the implementation of the identified improvements.
7.1.1 All FACCS/IACCS accredited schools with Early Childhood, Gold Seal designated, Preschool Programs, Kindergarten, or academic grades 1-12 maintain a commitment to quality school improvement by the continuous evaluation of each of the specified standards within each area of the school’s spiritual, academic, and organizational processes.
7.1.2 The school has a process in place for developing the school improvement plan which includes input from a variety of individuals associated with the school.
7.1.3 The school provides an annual report, referred to as the School Improvement Plan (SIP) or Continuing Improvement Plan (CIP), to FACCS/IACCS, which addresses each element required in the SIP/CIP.
7.2 Resource Materials
7.2.1 The school utilizes various resources and collaborative parties to gather the appropriate data to assist with the Self-Study and the School Improvement Plan. An SIP/CIP will provide an action plan that will focus on the areas of needed improvement; will accurately provide the results to be achieved; actions, resources, and/or training necessary to implement the needed improvement; and a future strategy to assess the continuing effectiveness of the implemented process.
*This brief summary is to be used in coordination with the expanded FACCS/IACCS Self-Study Model for purposes of institutional accreditation.
** FACCS reserves the right to modify the Summary of FACCS Accreditation Standards at any time without notice. A comprehensive listing of all FACCS accreditation standards, indicators, and related procedures, may be found in the FACCS Guide to Evaluation and Accreditation of Christian Schools 2010.