The Road to CIS Accreditation
Since 2010, Yew Chung International School of Beijing has been a member of the Council of International Schools (CIS), an organization that ensures that hundreds of international schools around the world adhere to the highest standards when it comes to education and the operation of schools. On the week of 11th – 15th November, we had a visit from the CIS evaluation team assigned to our school to verify that we have met the requirements set by the organization.
The accreditation process “is about transparency and your school showing itself to be open about its processes as well as showing alignment with standards that are used in other schools around the world”, explained Sharee Hebert, YCIS- BJ Accreditation Coordinator and Secondary Mathematics teacher.
A thorough process which takes place over a five-year cycle, the reaccreditation process required the commitment from the school community as a whole. Both academic and support staff collaborated during the self-study stage on eight different domains.
The eight domains set by CIS focused on areas such as “our mission and vision, governance, curriculum, teaching and assessing for learning, child protection and wellbeing, staffing, facilities, and home and community partnerships” said Sharee. Within these domains are standards that the school aligns to, with 20 of them being core standards that each school has to meet (at minimum) to receive accreditation.
The Self Study was not only a great exercise in learning more about our school, to show how we have improved since the preparatory evaluation and how it can continue to do so, but this also allowed us to put one of our core principles of collaboration into practice. Several domain teams had collaboration with the "Chor-Hang Educational Research Institute (CHERI), who took the lead in revising several of the policies to make them standardised across the organisation".
Once the 18 months of the Self Study is completed in a school, CIS sends an evaluation team made up of experienced educators from different international schools around the world to the school. Their task is to validate and verify the evidence submitted to CIS. This is done through reading the Self Study report and evidence, meeting with groups of all stakeholders, and observing classes.
Before they left, the team met with all staff to give general feedback for us to reflect on while we wait for the completion of their report and the decision of CIS regarding our accreditation status. The Chairperson said "We saw the very strong relationships that are here in the school, whether it's you with each other or with students or with parents. And the general impression of people being happy."
With regards to the bilingual focus of our school, she said, "we saw incredible outcomes for the students because of this, exceptional language abilities coming through at different levels and we did see a strong worker co-teaching methodology taking place in classes".
According to Sharee, "the report was well reflective of what our school is and also what it aims to be" and with the joint effort from everyone, we can achieve this.
After all the work was done "I appreciated the attitude of all the staff. They rose to the challenge and we put together something that as a school that I think we can be proud of" she said.
Sharee, who coordinated the process says, "This was an area of school development that I had an interest in because I wanted to get an overview of the school and become a part of school improvement". This was in addition to the exciting challenges and formation of new skills the role came with.
The final report will be released in a couple of months, and because this is an ongoing process, we will be required to submit an annual report as well, based on the committee's recommendations.