Independent School Accreditation: How We Assess our School

This year has provided several occasions for the Turning Point community to reflect upon our history and our future, and to set goals to chart our progress in the years ahead. A highlight is our accreditation through the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which affords us the opportunity to assess our evolution as a school in the company of experts in the field.

Accreditation requires schools to undergo a rigorous assessment process every seven years. All members of the school community engage in a reflective examination of both the challenges and opportunities facing the school; the end result of this process is a collaborative, written self-study that openly and honestly reflects the culture and inner-workings of the school. This self-study incorporates 16 standards focusing on strengths, challenges, and future goals regarding every element of the school—from academics to finance, community, facilities, leadership, governance, and more. This report is reviewed by a Visiting Committee composed of CAIS independent school leaders from various California schools as well as a WASC representative, usually a curriculum specialist.


Turning Point’s Visiting Team of educators are spending March 5-8 with us, learning more about our culture and program so they can assess Turning Point’s ability to fulfill the goals we have outlined in our self-study. They are meeting with various groups of key stakeholders: faculty, staff, students, Trustees, and parents, and visiting classes to see teaching and learning in real time. The Visiting Committee will offer commendations and recommendations, which will form the basis for our strategic vision over the next seven years, articulated in the Future Planning Document that CAIS requires as a follow-up document.

This growth-minded process of assessment is thoughtfully designed; while of course the product of our work is key, getting to the product required us to pause and take stock of the big picture: what we do, what we stand for, what makes us distinct, where we want to go; in other words, how effectively we are living our mission. Getting to the bottom of these crucial questions requires critical analysis, active listening and empathic dialogue, clearly communicated ideas, and a balance of confidence and humility—skills that we got to practice and to model for our students. With the Visiting Team on campus, we have new partners to help us ascertain our next steps as a teaching and learning community.

I have had the honor of serving on several Visiting Teams, and I have found it to be profound professional development, offering me the chance to help a school develop a plan to implement its mission more purposefully, to bring back ideas to improve my own school and provide a more robust opportunity for students, and to give back meaningfully to the independent school community. At Turning Point, several other administrators have also been asked to serve on visiting accreditation teams, a testament to the excellent regard which our regional association has for our school.

Many of our parents will be on campus Tuesday morning, delivering and arranging flowers to celebrate our wonderful faculty and staff. I cannot think of a more fitting symbol for the renewal and rejuvenation that our accreditation process infuses into our community. There’s a reason these visits come in springtime. If you see any of the Visiting Team members, please say hello. We are thrilled for them to see our wonderful school in action.


Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School

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