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What ISAS Accreditation Means

In 2017, The Post Oak School received re-accreditation by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS), the culmination of many years' work. The documentation of adherence to ISAS standards took two years to complete, the self-study a full year, followed by a twelve-person accreditation team's site visit lasting three-and-a-half days.

Why pursue this accreditation, when Post Oak is already committed to its AMI Montessori heritage?

The two associations complement each other, demonstrating that The Post Oak School is a respected institution in the worlds of both Montessori and traditional education. Our commitment to AMI principles confirms that Post Oak follows the most rigorous path of Montessori education for both the mind and heart; ISAS confirms that the Montessori approach does not stint in academics, but rather excels in them.

And the new accreditation puts Post Oak in good company. ISAS accredits 85 schools located in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Mexico, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, enrolling over 50,000 students. Their primary mission is "to encourage, support, and develop the highest standard for independent schools of the region and to recognize by formal accreditation those schools in which these standards are maintained." Local peers also holding ISAS accreditation include St. John's, Kinkaid, River Oaks Baptist, Annunciation Orthodox, and Awty International.

Serving as a bridge between two worlds of schools offers Post Oak the chance to be an example to each. From a letter by Adam Forman, emeritus board member, in the summer 2017 issue of the school newsletter:

What is ISAS and what does it mean to be ISAS accredited? Does ISAS re-accreditation impact our being a Montessori mission-based school? What kind of work went into becoming re-accredited by ISAS? ISAS is an association of independent schools in the southwest, which includes St. John’s, The Kinkaid School, St. Mark’s School of Texas (in Dallas), and The Hockaday School (in Dallas) to name a few—not bad company. An excerpt from ISAS’ mission states, “ISAS promotes, upholds and advances the highest educational and professional standards for the region’s independent schools. We offer our members an exceptionally rigorous, authentic and meaningful accreditation process…” Not surprisingly, to become ISAS accredited, an independent school in the southwest must be, as we are, operating in all facets at the highest levels, including mission consistency (Montessori), education (teachers), administration (school administration), and strategic direction (board of trustees). Additionally, and importantly, an ISAS school will have a supportive community—from parents, to teachers, to school administration, to the board of trustees, just as we have.
As not one of the above-mentioned schools is a Montessori school, is ISAS’ accreditation process pushing us to be more like them…trying to push us away from being a Montessori mission-based school? The answer is absolutely not. Rather, ISAS and its accreditation process are working to ensure that each member educational institution is operating at the highest level, consistent with its educational mission. That means, consistent with our mission, while being an accredited ISAS educational institution, we can still be developing students who are interested—interested in life, learning, and knowing how and why things work. We can still be developing students who demonstrate grace and courtesy in their interactions with others. We can still encourage students to be independent thinkers and, yet, be able to work collaboratively. We can still be graduating students who have developed intellectual stamina and grit. We can still prepare students to see the world out of their own eyes and with their own voice. We can still be The Post Oak School.
ISAS re-accreditation sounds pretty good, but does re-accreditation involve a lot of work? Are there any deliverables, or visits required? Yes, on all counts. As Maura described in the March issue of The Post, teachers, administrators, parents, and members of the board of trustees generated a comprehensive self-study that was over 100 pages long, covering topics ranging from school mission, to school community, to academic and student programs, to personnel and administration, to governance, and to finance and facilities management. Once submitted, we were subject to a three-day ISAS re-accreditation visit, during which ISAS team members interacted with students, parents, teachers, administrators and board members. The process was exhausting and rigorous, but productive and encouraging.
Why go through all of that? Why work to retain our ISAS accreditation? We are a community of independent thinkers working to do the right thing. We are a community who seeks an exemplary approach to all we do. My take—I don’t think that we as the Post Oak community would have it any other way. Again, thank you and congratulations on your ISAS re-accreditation!

Post Oak’s ISAS accreditation is effective for ten years, with regular interim reports to ease re-accreditation.

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) certifies that ISAS has voluntarily submitted to a rigorous and impartial review of its accreditation program and demonstrated its adherence to the Commission’s Criteria for Effective Independent School Accreditation Practices. NAIS has commended ISAS for the quality of the association’s accreditation program for its member schools.