When Leni and Neal founded Children's Community School in 1981, the California Association of Independent Schools was about 40 years old. Joining CAIS at that time wasn't a high priority for them because one of the requirements of membership was administering a standardized test to all students. As CCS has always been strongly rooted in the progressive tradition, standardized testing wasn't a tool that Leni and Neal believed accurately assessed children, and they also thought that the experience of taking such a "high stakes" test would be detrimental to the culture of support and democracy they wanted to foster. Just a few years ago, however, CAIS removed the testing requirement for membership, and Children's Community School began to seriously consider applying for CAIS accreditation. CCS began that process last year and was given provisional membership, subject to the self-study accreditation process CAIS employs.
In October, CCS hosted the Chair of our Accreditation Committee for a day. Zaq Roberts (of Gateway School in Santa Cruz) visited our School, spoke to the administrative staff and CCS' accreditation team about their roles, and began to review our extensive self-study application, enlightening us as to what to expect in January 2018 when we will host him and four other Committee Members (staff from other CAIS member schools) for 4 days.
Besides the benefit of the "deep dive" into our organizational and pedagogical work that the self-study process affords us, membership in CAIS allows CCS staff to attend high-level professional development seminars, conferences and gatherings with independent school colleagues from all over California. CAIS membership also allowed us to join the National Association of Independent Schools which provides nationwide professional development opportunities as well as access to marketing studies, statistical reports, human resources support, and a network of independent school professionals who can offer guidance on a multitude of issues.
It's an exciting time in the history of our small school. We are not compromising what we believe to be the best educational practice for our students, but we are still availing ourselves of the support of a wider network of educators for the betterment of CCS. Questions? Please find Heather in the office to hear more about this.