Over the past two years, families across the country have sought out independent schools during the COVID pandemic that had never before considered an independent school experience. As a result, families began to evaluate the options available, with very little time or initial understanding of the independent school landscape.
COVID-19 Impact on Independent Schools
Why Accreditation Matters
Selecting an independent school for your child can often seem to be a daunting task. However, with a plethora of options and educational philosophies to consider, accreditation provides a platform to begin evaluating schools. From a parent’s viewpoint, it becomes a great starting point to narrow down schools and provides peace of mind in what is often uncharted territory.
From an external standpoint, accreditation is an assurance of quality. It is a statement to the larger community of a school’s institutional health, its governance, its school culture, its adherence to standards, the integrity of its programs, and continuous school improvement. Therefore, accreditation assures a community that an accredited school is a trustworthy institution of learning.
“From an internal standpoint, it fosters improvement of the school’s programs and operations to support student learning,” comments Mr. Briar, Head of School. “We use this process to carefully and critically examine our own practices and engage with other educational leaders from across the state who come to visit our campus so that we can evaluate and refine our program to make sure we are offering the best possible program to our families.”
Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS)
Powhatan receives its accreditation through the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS), the premier accrediting body in the Commonwealth. The accreditation is ongoing and comprehensive in scope, assuring a viable educational program with academic and institutional integrity.
As an independent school, Powhatan develops its own curriculum and learning standards. Powhatan’s instructional standards are created, reviewed, and refined regularly by the administration and the faculty to meet our mission and provide an exceptional educational experience for students. All faculty members are required to participate annually in professional development to further enhance teaching strategies and to expand content knowledge.
Accreditation is important because it validates and certifies the integrity of the school’s program. Accreditation, which has a multi-year validation process, involves a periodic self-study and an evaluation process by a committee of peers. Undergoing a thorough self-study process like this, combined with a multi-year plan for institutional improvement, allows the school to realize its mission more fully. Our most recent on-site VAIS accreditation visit was conducted in 2018.
In addition to being accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, Powhatan holds membership with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
Families jump to private schools as coronavirus drags on
Nothing has shone through the challenges of the pandemic as the value of being truly independent. The autonomy to independently make decisions based on what is best for our students and what is true to our mission has kept Powhatan School moving forward in unprecedented times. We are extremely grateful for our relationship with VAIS and look forward to our next accreditation visit in 2024.