Accreditation is essential for any private institution that seeks to remain competitive and maintain a legitimate reputation. School accreditation provides a protocol for schools committed to systemic, systematic, and sustainable continuous improvement. The process requires schools to collaborate in reviewing the quality of its program and supports, enhances, and stimulates growth and improvement throughout the school. Standards of accreditation recognize the distinctive mission of a school and respect its institutional diversity while maintaining high standards in every area of program and practice.
Accreditation requires that a school focus on continual improvement of programs, services, and teacher quality through regular evaluation, data analysis, professional development, and strategic planning. The accreditation process examines the whole institution—the program, the cultural context, and the community of stakeholders—to determine how well the parts work together to meet the needs of learners. While the accreditation standards of a state or regional agency address general areas of institutional quality, the Council of Islamic Schools in North America (CISNA) standards address all areas through an Islamic lens and the process focuses on the spiritual life of the school.
The CISNA standards were first established in 2012, regularly reviewed, and last revised in 2022 after consultation with experts in the field of education. These standards are categorized under four domains: Governance, School Leadership, Teaching & Learning, and School Culture & Environment. These domains provide a systematic framework for self-evaluation and the improvement of programming and services.
The CISNA accreditation process includes a readiness visit (virtual or in-person), a thorough self-study conducted by the school based on the CISNA Standards, an Islamic Identity Survey administered by the school, the development of a school improvement plan, and a review visit by the CISNA team. The CISNA review team consists of a combination of the executive director, CISNA board members and/or qualified Islamic school educators trained in the CISNA accreditation process. The number of team members is determined by the size of the school. The review visit serves to ascertain how the components of the school’s mission statement are integrated into the entire academic program and the culture of the school. The review visit also verifies the school’s self-study to determine if it accurately reflects the school’s programs, brings objective expertise to assess the school’s complete operation, and culminates in a written report of the school’s strengths and areas of growth.
To successfully renew CISNA accreditation all schools must do the following:
Each standard should be addressed in terms of “how” the school meets the standard. The goal is not to simply indicate that the school complies, but to describe how and to what extent the school complies with each standard. A school should be able to demonstrate how it meets each standard by supplying supporting documentation such as governing board minutes, policy and procedure manuals, handbooks, minutes from staff meetings, etc. Supporting documentation or evidence should be hyperlinked in the relevant self-study sections.
The results of the self-study become the basis for a school’s improvement plan and provide the context for the review team’s accreditation visit.
Please contact Ms. Sufia Azmat, CISNA Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.