Standards for Accrediting Schools
I. Eligibility for Membership
- Any private school is eligible to seek accreditation by TAAPS. The combination of grades offered must be contiguous and reasonable for the philosophy of the school involving pre-kindergarten and above. A minimum of three (3) grades, kindergarten and above are required to be in place before the application will be considered. None of the contiguous grades shall be a combined grade.
- The entire school, consisting of all grades currently offered, must be evaluated for accreditation initially. The school must have been operating successfully for a minimum of two (2) school years prior to the on-site visit. The administration must have been in the process of establishing and operating the administrative part of the school for one year. This would actually be three (3) years of operation.
- It is NOT the intent of TAAPS to accredit home schools, vocational or franchised schools.
- Variances may be considered due to the philosophy and purpose of the school.
- Early childhood may be included in the accreditation of a school. This program may include three and four-year-old Pre-Ks. The three-year-old children must be three (3) prior to September 1st. This program must have a qualified teacher. The early childhood program shall have a curriculum that will meet the educational standards of TAAPS.
II. Philosophy of the School
- The school shall publish a statement of philosophy from which the admissions criteria and student evaluation criteria are derived.
- The statement of philosophy is in writing and distributed to any interested party.
- The advertising of the school reflects the philosophy of the total program of the school.
- The admissions criteria and procedures are based on the philosophy as published.
- The curriculum of the school has been developed using philosophy and objectives as a guide.
- The evaluation of student progress is predicted by the philosophy.
III. Goals and Objectives
- They shall be approved by the Board of Directors and supported by the administration and faculty of the school.
- They shall be in accordance with the philosophy of the school.
- They shall be implemented by the administration and faculty in their respective roles.
- These shall be evident in the students’:
- Intellectual development
- Social and emotional development
- Cultural development
- Ethical development
- Physical development (to include health and safety)
- Career development
- Civic development
IV. Organization and Governance
- The governing body of a school shall adopt and publish policies supporting high quality in academic, physical and educational programs.
- The school shall be an incorporated educational institution or an integral part of a sponsoring organization.
- If the school is a separate corporation, its governing body is elected according to the school’s constitution and the actions of the governing board are legally binding on the school.
- If the school is an integral part of the legal entity of the organization, rather than a separate corporation, its governing committee is an official committee of the organization, elected according to that organization’s policy.
- The relationship between the organization and school is harmonious.
- The organization may support the school financially, or the organization may receive funds from the school for joint use of facilities and services provided.
- In dual use of facilities, the school staff and volunteer or professional staff of organization are cooperative.
- The names of the members of the governing body of record, the positions they hold, which includes any fiscal interest, are available to any interested party.
- The governing body has formulated, codified and written a set of policies that establish the rules for the operation of the school.
- The school’s written policies address:
- School’s calendar (minimum of 175 days or 75,600 minutes)
- Hours of the school day
- Student admission and acceptance
- Student rights regarding curriculum, discipline and dismissal
- Written discipline policy
- Tuition and payment policy
- Teachers’ rights, evaluation, contract renewal and dismissal
- The policies clearly reflect that the school is controlled by contract law and includes appropriate policy statements in contracts for attendance of students and employment of staff.
- The policies of the governing board describe the relationship between the board and the head administrator.
- A school failing to abide by the school’s adopted policies will place its accredited status in jeopardy.
- Schools are mandated to carry adequate liability insurance, workman’s compensation, vehicle and property insurance.
- The school shall be guided through its practices and program by sufficient administrative and service personnel to assure adequate management and operation.
- The head administrator of the school shall be authorized under policies adopted by the governing body to manage and operate all programs of the school including, but not limited to financial, academic, moral, physical, extracurricular activities, discipline, admissions, facilities, and personnel.
- All schools should have an Emergency Crisis Plan and a regular schedule for safety and emergency drills.
- All school administrators must have an appropriate degree, and/or a degree in another field with experience that would qualify them to do their assigned jobs effectively.
- The head of school and/or principal shall have a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree with appropriate preparation and experience for the position.
- Other personnel, such as counselors, business managers, and records clerks, must have degrees and/or training or experience appropriate to the assignments.
- There is adequate support service to efficiently manage the business affairs of the school.
- There is adequate support service to provide for the efficient maintenance of permanent records and files.
- The school shall provide evidence that it meets all mandatory provisions for health records and assures the health and safety of the students.
- The faculty and staff of the school shall support the philosophy and objectives of the instructional program. These individuals are prepared to fulfill their assignments as determined by preparation and evaluation against performance.
- The governing body shall adopt a job description for each position on the staff that includes the preparation required of the individuals who may be employed in that position.
- All teachers are qualified with appropriate degrees and/or preparation in their assignments.
- Teachers should have a Baccalaureate degree with appropriate preparation in the area of the assignment.
- Pre-K teachers do not have to have a degree, but should have appropriate training and/or experience.
- Pre-K and kindergarten teachers may be qualified if they have a Baccalaureate degree and/or appropriate early childhood training. Seminary or Montessori trained teachers may be qualified to teach Pre-K.
- Staff records should be kept on file for five (5) years.
- In times of emergency, the minimum preparation permitted for a position may be temporarily waived with the full knowledge of the parents of those students under the direction of the faculty member. The nature of the emergency situation must be clearly stated and a plan developed to remedy the situation as expeditiously as possible.
- There are enough support employees to serve the school’s operation adequately and there are sufficient teachers that classes do not become unreasonably large.
- Mid-year terminations of grade offerings are discouraged.
- The school conducts a performance appraisal for individual members of the faculty and staff.
- Professional staff members are employed by contract and are required to obtain sixteen (16) documented training clock hours per year.
- The school should strive to assure continuity of faculty without an excessive and consistent turnover of staff.
- Records for faculty members are to be kept permanently and in a confidential area.
- Qualified applicants are employed without regard to race, creed, ethnic background, or national origin.
- All employees of the school must agree to a “background check” prior to hiring. (This should include all part-time, regular volunteers, lay personnel, such as coaches, etc.)
- A background check also applies to all volunteer drivers of vehicles. All drivers of school-owned or leased vehicles that transport students or employees of the school must have a CDL license and submit to a background check. All drivers’ license of parents and/or volunteers must be kept on file in the office. All private cars must have current inspections and proper insurance.
- The school plant, facilities, equipment, and materials shall be free from health and safety hazards and be conducive to carrying out the philosophy and objectives of the school.
- The school shall have inspection records to demonstrate that applicable health, fire, and safety standards are met.
- All vehicles owned by the school shall have regular inspections, safety equipment, (such as first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and proper insurance) in each vehicle. The insurance should be sufficient to cover the vehicle and persons transported in the vehicle. The driver of any vehicle transporting students must have an appropriate driver’s license and insurance.
- All statutory building codes are met or exceeded.
- There should be adequate space to secure confidential student and staff records.
- There shall also be adequate teacher work-space and equipment necessary to communicate with parents, to serve instructional needs and keep records.
- Classroom should be adequate for a specific number of students, — 20 sq. ft. per student.
- The restrooms and water fountains are adequate and appropriate for the ages of the students.
- Playground space, athletic fields, and gymnasium facilities are provided as specified by the objectives of the school.
- Gymnasium dressing rooms, showers, and storage spaces should be adequate for the students served.
- Athletic programs should pay specific attention to safety precautions for the students, equipment, and facilities.
- Adequate safety precautions are to be observed. Particular care is exercised in peak traffic periods before and after school.
- All spaces occupied by students and staff are to be adequately cooled, heated and lighted.
- The maintenance of the facility should be a priority of the school.
- The financial program of the school shall assure the continuity of the program.
- An adequate annual budget is proposed by the administration and adopted by the governing body.
- An annual report is submitted each year with a budget proposed by the administration and adopted by the board.
- Income from tuition, fees, gifts, endowments, and fundraising activities must be adequate to support a high-quality educational program.
- Salaries should be at sufficient levels to attract and hold competent administrators, teachers, and staff members.
- There shall be adequate supplies, textbooks, furniture and equipment available for the operation of a good educational program.
- There should be enough support staff to serve the school’s operation adequately and sufficient teachers to maintain reasonable class size.
- Funds are to be available for staff development, including travel expense funds for administrators and teachers.
- Included in the budget should be monies allowed for the maintenance of the facility.
Students represent the embodiment of the school’s philosophy and objectives and are admitted and served with the following standards clearly in evidence.
- The school admits qualified students without regard to race, color, ethnic background or national origin.
- Students are screened and admitted only when the school’s program can be predicted to serve the needs of each.
- Students are evaluated continuously and are provided annual progress reports designating promotion or retention.
- Students’ records, (application, health, major transcripts, etc.) shall be kept on file in a secure and confidential place for a minimum of five (5) years. The files of high school graduates shall be kept permanently.
- The school publishes a document that describes the curriculum, its organization, how students are classified, the grading system, disciplinary rules and techniques, promotion and retention policies and graduation requirements.
- The school shall have a mandatory attendance rule for students. Enforcement may be flexible but shall assure academic achievement of the students.
- If an accredited school plans to expand into other divisions, the school will go through a new accreditation process covering the new division and will be visited. (Ex. Adding a high school)
X. Academic Program
- The school’s curriculum encompasses Texas Education Agency’s TEKS.
- The school year shall be a minimum of 175 days of instruction.
- The school shall provide an appropriate number of hours of instruction per day.
- Teacher planning and preparation time should be designed to fit the needs of the school and class size.
- Curricular and extracurricular activities are designed and balanced to provide for all students’ academic, physical, social and moral development.
- The school’s policies provide for transferring students to be placed according to their records and ability to perform.
- The school promotes good citizenship and promotes patriotism.