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KIS Pursues CIS Accreditation: The Process


Heather Carreiro is the Applied Learning Coordinator at Korea International School and is also helping to organize the school’s application for membership and accreditation with the Council of International Schools. KIS is currently accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges  (WASC), a US-based accreditation agency. KIS is seeking this additional accreditation in order to become a member of the CIS community, whose “vision is to inspire the development of global citizens through high quality international education: connecting ideas, cultures, and educators from every corner of the world.” Here, Ms. Carreiro shares more about the CIS accreditation process. 

More than 530 schools are accredited by CIS. These schools use a set of internationally agreed-upon standards that encourage and support schools in the journey of continuous improvement, no matter what their curriculum is based on.  The evaluations are conducted by a peer-based model that brings educators together and allows for the further development of best practices in education. 

I first became an accreditation peer evaluator in 2016, which allowed me to visit other schools in Asia and assess their status according to the CIS framework. As evaluators, we write formal reports that include a synthesis of the visit, commendations, and recommendations for future improvement and growth. Participating in these visits, and now facilitating them as an evaluation team leader, has been some of the best professional development I have ever engaged in. There is something really special about a network of schools, a group of dedicated professionals, who volunteer their time in order to see everyone improving on a continual basis. International education as a field is really quite dynamic, and the accreditation process captures this and celebrates it while also adding layers of external accountability and a time-bound pressure to move ahead with projects that further the school’s own mission, vision, and values. 

About a year ago, in November 2020, KIS submitted the first part of our application to become a CIS member school. We are now well into the process of self-analysis based on the CIS framework. The school has a number of committees focused on different areas: the school’s guiding statements (mission, vision, values), governance and leadership, documented curriculum, teaching & assessment, well-being and safeguarding, staffing & human resources, facilities & technology, and home-school partnerships. We recently submitted a ninety-one page report, with hundreds of links and evidence documents, to show where we are at in reaching the CIS standards. 

Our next step will be to host a virtual visit December 7th, 8th, and 9th, with our CIS School Support & Evaluation Officer, Mr. Norm Dean who is currently based in Melbourne, Australia. At this stage of our journey, we are only evaluated by one person. The virtual visit will include meetings with parents, students, staff, faculty, school leadership, and committees. The visitor also takes part in virtual walkthroughs to see the learning happening on campus. 

This first visit will determine if we are eligible for CIS membership. Once we are approved members, all of our faculty will have access to the CIS Community Portal, which includes a wealth of professional development resources and networking opportunities. 

We will also be able to use the CIS logo to show that we are an approved member school. Schools which are CIS members have these aspects in common:

A CIS school:

  • is devoted to its mission and vision for students

  • has thought deeply about the services it offers to students, family and community

  • invests the time and resources for validation from a globally-recognized accreditation authority

  • focuses on the quality of teaching, student learning, as well as student safeguarding and well-being

  • is committed to the development of the students’ global citizenship

  • has a suitable philosophy of education for its students

  • promises only what it can deliver

  • is open to regular evaluation by its own school community and peer evaluators

  • constantly seeks improvement in all areas of the school and plans strategically for the future

After becoming a member, two major stages remain in order to become fully accredited. The first is called the Preparatory Stage, and this happens twelve to eighteen months after the membership is achieved. The third stage is called Team Evaluation stage, and that is when the entire school community takes part in extensive self-reflection and data analysis. At its culmination, twelve to eighteen months after the Preparatory stage, the school will host a visit from a team of peer evaluators. This team will then give their official recommendation on the school’s accreditation status. It is our hope to reach this stage by spring of 2024. Each visit requires additional standards to be met, thus providing a road map for continued school improvement.