Looking Ahead: Accreditation Update & Next Steps

This year, ISA has been engaged in a joint CIS/NEASC accreditation. Successful completion of the Preparatory stage in the 2022-23 school year enabled us to choose the Pathway 2 Deep Dive option for this school year, as we already met the standards for continued accreditation. 

This option allowed us to choose an area of focus which aligned with our strategic priorities. The Deep Dive, with a focus on Wellbeing for Lifelong Learning, enables the school to concentrate on specific areas which will have a considerable impact on student learning.

We have compiled an update on the hard work our Deep Dive teams have been up throughout this self-study year. There were four Deep Dive Committees each engaged with a specific area of focus: Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity and Justice (DEIJ), Physical and Social Health Education (PSHE) and Workplace Culture.

Project One: Strategic Support of School Growth & Development through DEIJ Advocacy 

The Deep Dive Committee looked at DEIJ Advocacy with the goal of creating a sustainable and accountable framework for the continual growth of DEIJ initiatives for the whole school community. Currently, the group is in the research-gathering phase to better understand where we are as a school concerning DEIJ practices. The group aims to gather both inside and outside perspectives to help aid their understanding of the community DEIJ landscape. They have begun collecting staff and faculty experiences of bias and racism through an anonymous survey which will help to guide their next steps. Next school year, ISA will engage a well-known DEIJ expert to do deeper work into where we are, and where we want to go.

Project Two: Inclusion – Tier 1 Support Structures 

The Inclusion Deep Dive Committee aimed to establish inclusive educational experiences for all ISA students. The group has moved into the implementation phase after achieving a greater understanding of current inclusive practices and policies at school. They have identified Universal Design Learning (UDL) as an instructional process which aligns well with the IB curriculum, with their next steps being to develop and implement this school-wide, ensure everyone at ISA learns more about UDL as well as create UDL professional development opportunities for staff.

Project Three: Develop a Whole School PSHE Curriculum 

The PSHE Deep Dive aimed to develop and pilot a whole school curriculum and includes Personal, Social, Mental Health and Physical Health. The committee received approval from the Curriculum Council to adopt two frameworks: the PSHE Programme of Study and UNESCO: International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education. The hiring of a new wellness teacher for Grades 7-8 accelerated the group’s progress past their original timeline. As for the next steps, the group will align our current PSHE teaching and learning at ISA with the new frameworks.

Project Four: Developing A Positive Workplace Culture At ISA

The fourth Deep Dive Committee aimed to identify obstacles to building a positive workplace culture at ISA so that a stronger positive culture can develop for the whole community. After exploring the current wellbeing environment, the group created a working definition of ‘positive workplace culture’ and begun research into pillars of this culture. The next stage of the project involved sharing these recommendations with leadership and ISA staff.

Accreditation, and the reflection, research and implementation that goes hand-in-hand with it, is an ongoing process. As we enter our 60th anniversary year in 2024-2025, ISA will continue to engage in reflections and conversations, with wellbeing as the main focus for the next school year. These Deep Dive Committees will continue their work through December, after which there will be a joint CIS/NEASC/IB visit. The key takeaways and learnings from this school year will feed into a new wellbeing strategy which will be presented at the beginning of the new school year.