Components of the SAIS Accreditation Process

The SAIS Accreditation Portal is used to complete the following three components.

Component 1 – School Snapshot

The School Snapshot is a very brief overview of the school. It serves as the introductory material for the visiting team and is automatically ported into the final visit report. Responses should be brief and directly address each question.


  • What is the school’s mission statement? How does it inform decision-making in the school?
  • After providing the school’s mission statement, briefly describe the relationship between the mission statement and the decision-making process at the school. Standard 1 deals thoroughly with the mission of the school, so be brief in this section

Brief History

  • Give a brief history of the school from its founding up to the present day. The full history should be included in the School Report for Growth. This section is for a quick overview.
  • Provide current demographics and statistics including grade levels, number of students, and number of faculty/staff.


  • What is the current leadership model and how does it relate to the governance structure?
  • Describe the operational leadership (head of school/division leaders, president/head of school, etc.) and the governing leadership (board rotation schedule, board committee structure, etc.) and briefly discuss the relationship between the two.


  • Briefly describe the school’s model of self-study including the timeline to be employed during this accreditation cycle. Refer to the section of the SAIS Accreditation Guidebook on self-study models.


  • As a result of studying itself, the school will arrive at one or more institutional areas of improvement for mission fulfillment. 
  • What are the school’s major areas of school improvement? List these goals or strategic growth areas. Reserve the full analysis and plans for implementing and measuring for the school report. This section is only for listing and briefly describing the major areas. These major areas will form the basis of the visiting team’s report to the school.

Component 2 – Response to Standards and Indicators

SAIS uses the standard and indicator model whereby the school demonstrates adherence to all indicators and therefore, by definition, meets the particular standard. Schools respond to all indicators in the SAIS Accreditation Portal.

To address an indicator, the school:

  • makes a statement affirming adherence,
  • describes how it adheres to the indicator, and
  • offers its best evidence – artifacts, procedures, other documentation, or studies – that clearly supports its claim that it meets an indicator.

A school must demonstrate compliance with ALL standards and indicators to be accredited, reaccredited, and/or maintain accreditation. The responses to standards and indicators are initially read and confirmed by the visiting team chair at the time of the pre-visit and fully confirmed by the visiting team at the time of the visit.

Component 3 – School Report for Growth

The school report tells the school’s story and offers a clear view of the school from several perspectives and aspirational goals. It requires identifying, demonstrating, and documenting a continuous process of improvement. The basis of this report is the school’s self-study, which:

  • Describes the vision the school has for itself over the course of the next accreditation cycle
  • Expresses its plans and progress around school improvement
  • Presents its methodology toward quality assurance

A school can use any self-study method recognized in the independent school world:

  • strategic visioning process
  • school improvement plan
  • school renewal process
  • long-range planning
  • school-wide SWOT analysis as guided by a consultant, etc.

The three basic requirements of any self-study:

  1. mission-focused
  2. comprehensive of all aspects of school life
  3. inclusive of all stakeholder groups

The goal of the self-study process is to identify three to five major goals for school improvement. The school report documents the self-study process and thoroughly describes the school’s plan to achieve these goals.

The visiting team will focus most of its efforts responding to your School Report for Growth. It should reflect the aspirations of the school during this planning cycle and should be presented as a continuous narrative rooted in the school mission and reflective of the characteristics of the school community.

  1. Where is the school today? A profile of the school’s current status with respect to the selected institutional goal(s).
  2. Where does the school envision it will be in the future? A vision for where the school wants to go relative to the institutional goal(s).
  3. What is the school’s plan to get there? A plan for achieving the desired outcomes of the institutional goal(s).
  4. What measures will the school use to chart its progress? Measurable results that will demonstrate to the school its movement towards the selected institutional goal(s).