The Reaccreditation of Cambridge Montessori School

November 16, 2016
On November 29, six members of the New England Montessori and independent school communities will arrive at CMS to undertake the task of assessing our school's compliance with the AISNE (Association of Independent Schools of New England) and AMS (American MontessoriSociety) Standards of Accreditation. In preparation for this visit, the CMS faculty, staff, and board of directors have spent the past two years compiling a lengthy self-study document that details each and every aspect of our school, from mission and philosophy, to curriculum and operations. The visiting team, lead by a member of the AISNE Membership Committee who serves as the team chair and liaison, will spend four full days on campus when we return from our Thanksgiving break, conducting interviews and observations in an effort to ensure that all aspects of our program, as documented in the self-study, align with the standards set forth by both organizations. The team will then issue a conclusive report with commentary from their visit, as well a list of commendations and recommendations on specific aspects of our school. Ultimately, the AISNEMembership Committee will make a formal recommendation on reaccreditation to the AISNE Board.

As both a member and an accredited schoolCambridge Montessori School undergoes the process of dual reaccreditation on a ten year cycle. Our preparation began in 2015, when Dr. Ingrid Tucker, our Head of School, asked me to devise a process for undertaking the self-study that would best suit our school. In order to organize and streamline our work, I assembled an in-house Accreditation Team, which included Ingrid Tucker, Head of SchoolMunir Shivji, Director of Toddler and Primary Programs, Ann Gardiner, Red Room Associate Teacher, Beth Johns-Thomas, Director of Passport Camp Programs, Ken Paynter, Director of Technology and Sandra Delaney, Learning Specialist. Ken Paynter, our Director of Technology, was key in creating the computer interfaces that enabled the team's big ideas to come to life. As such, our self-study is unique in that it will be the first self-study delivered to AISNE entirely electronically.

The Program section of the self-study, which outlines our curriculum from Toddler to Middle School, is the largest and most demanding section. It requires an enormous synchronous effort on the part of faculty. The entire faculty, under the guidance of our Accreditation Team and program directors, have been hard at work on this task since September 2015. They, by far, did the heaviest lifting, inputting the entire curriculum into the Curriculum Timeline, a stand alone tool we devised to best showcase the interdependent scope and sequence of our academic program. Also unique to our school, the Curriculum Timeline permits our curriculum to be viewed horizontally by discipline, and vertically by level, and consists of five sections, including content, objectives, activities, assessment tools and learner outcomes. Our teachers worked in small groups, after school and on specially reserved professional development days, to collaborate amongst themselves, as well as with specialists and members of the administration. It, too, is the first curriculum to be submitted completely in digital format, as opposed to hard copy.
 
In addition to the tremendous work done by our faculty, the CMS Board of Directors also spent a great deal of time reflecting on the Governance section. Each Administrative Office was responsible for a section that pertained to their particular department. We created and disseminated, for the first time, surveys to key members of the community. Parents, students and staff participated in surveys to provide multiple perspectives of learner outcomes and the educational nature of our school. Results of these surveys were also included as part of our self-study.
 
At the end of the day, accreditation is a worthy process that enables us to examine our fundamental mission and our delivery on the promises of that mission. It is the ultimate self-reflection experience. As a school, we examine every part of our operation and ask profound questions of ourselves. I am deeply grateful and indebted to all members of the Cambridge Montessori Community who have worked hard and collaborated well in this process. We look forward to welcoming the visiting team on November 29, 2016
 
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