CCS is in the final stages of renewing our long-standing dual accreditation with the North Central Association (NCA) and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). These organizations are well known and respected within the educational community. We first earned our accreditation in 1999 and have maintained that status through the years, putting Calvary Christian Schools in an elite classification of private schools. In fact, of the thousands of "member" schools in ACSI, less than 10% earn and maintain accreditation. CCS is the only accredited K-12 school in this West Michigan market.
The Latin word CREDO means "I believe." It is the root word creed, credible, incredible,, incredulous, and yes, accreditation to name just a few examples. The accreditation process gives CCS credibility with our stakeholders and the community. It also qualifies our SEVIS status to host international students. This data-driven process provides a structure of rigorous standards focused on continual school improvement
Every facet of our program is assessed: Governance, Mission, Resources, Instruction, Facilities, Personnel, Safety, Student Performance etc. In response to hundreds of questions, the administration and faculty produce countless pages of evidence in support of our answers, but more importantly, the process sharpens our focus on better serving the individual and collective needs of our students and parental partners.
Here are just few examples of work that has been done over the past two years in preparation for the coming accreditation visit:
Curriculum Guides/Scope and Sequence were revised and republished by teams of teachers after evaluating our entire K-12 curriculum. They looked at what we teach (scope) and the order in which we teach it (sequence). This on-going process prompts adjustments and provides a basis for prioritizing new textbooks as the budget allows.
Stakeholder Surveys were completed with parents, students and staff members in November.
We have been evaluating these results, listening to the input from our stakeholders, and addressing concerns while building upon our achievements and strengths.
A Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP) has been reviewed and published by a cross-section of CCS stakeholders based on input from the Stakeholder Surveys and the expertise of our teachers and administration. The CSIP was submitted to the School Board for review in February. Part of the board’s oversight role is vision casting and assisting the administration in ongoing implementation and stakeholder involvement.
Emergency Protocols have been updated with the on-site direction of the County Emergency Management Director. This process included emergency drill training, publishing of safety procedures and protocols, and the purchase of equipment through grants and other individual donations.
Updates of all governing documents are now complete: Board Policy Manual and Bylaws, Staff Manual, Parent/Student Handbook, and all Enrollment Materials
Technology Upgrades have taken place in classrooms. E-911-compliant phones have been installed in all classrooms and offices. The school website has been redesigned, and teachers now have their own webpages accessible through the school website. Additional security cameras (24 now in place) and other upgrades are in process. In February, our internet speed was quadrupled and moved to an unshared dedicated-service line.
Integration of Mission: The ACSI accreditation process is very specific in confirming that the CCS Statements of Faith and Mission are at the core of everything we do. We have revised the same longstanding goals of our Mission Statement down to 18 words which were the subject of this space in the fall and have been on display in signage and communication on a regular basis.
Student Performance Data Analysis helps us improve our instruction for individual students and whole classes as well as providing plan for ongoing staff development in this area.
On Monday, February 22, 2016, hundreds of pages of reports were submitted to ACSI and NCA. On March 20-23 an External Review Team will be at CCS for three and a half days to observe classrooms, examine policies, interview staff and constituents; review files, procedures and documentation. When finished, these visiting experts will produce a list of commendations and recommendations which, in short, determines if we have earned accreditation for what will be our third consecutive cycle since 1999.
I would like to thank our faculty and Mrs. Shelley Watkins who has served as our accreditation facilitator for eighteen years. Together with many other volunteers, our team has devoted thousands of hours to this project over the last 2 years. They do it because they love CCS and your kids, and they want to make this school the best it can be.