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AIMS is an association of independent schools that are either accredited or, as Provisional Members, on a path to become accredited.

Because the quality of a child’s education is at stake, there are no shortcuts to gaining accreditation by AIMS. Reflecting the complexity of school communities, the richness of curricula, and the sophistication of teaching methods, the AIMS accreditation process is both intensive and thorough. Although schools are busy places, AIMS believes that successful schools must periodically take the time for an in-depth look at current practice – not only to assure compliance with association standards of good practice, but also to be certain that the school’s written mission truly informs every aspect of school life, both in and out of the classroom.

The accreditation process includes three broad phases: a written self-study by the school, which must be comprehensive and widely inclusive of the various school constituencies; a three-day exhaustive visit by a team of outside peer educators that results in a written report to the school; and a school Action Plan that responds to recommendations made by the visiting team.

In an era of rapid changes, accreditation serves not only to assure compliance with standards, but also to support schools in their continuous efforts to stay abreast of developments and to improve educational programs and teaching. One of the most distinctive features of AIMS accreditation is related to this school-improvement model: Rather than award accreditation immediately after the on-site visit, AIMS accreditation comes only after the school has written an Action Plan, which is essentially a school-improvement road map for the coming years. AIMS may be unique in the country in requiring this additional step.

AIMS uses various kinds of information in the accreditation process, each of which adds to an understanding of a school and its community. Data are important pieces of the puzzle, as are written narrative materials, on-site observations of teachers and students, and conversations with all constituencies, including trustees, administrators, teachers, students, and parents. Taken together, these rich sources provide AIMS with an in-depth understanding of how well a school serves its students.  Moreover, this intensive investigation forms the basis for a series of recommendations for how the school can improve in the coming years.

While AIMS can not guarantee a successful experience for every child, parents can rest assured that accreditation by AIMS signifies a school’s compliance with association standards and its commitment to continuously strengthen educational programs and teaching – all for the benefit of students, who are not only at the heart of each school’s mission and community, but also central to AIMS accreditation.



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