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CIS/WASC Accreditation Process

What is Accreditation and Why is it Important? 


Accreditation is one of the most important and fundamental elements for international & independent schools around the world. Without accreditation, the school community has no way to verify the quality of education and care for student learning and well-being. Additionally, accreditation ensures that a student's diploma is actually recognized, allowing students to continue on in their education elsewhere after leaving a school. When researching schools, prospective parents should know exactly which accrediting authority is verifying the school, and whether that accreditation supports their child’s desired future pathway. 

NIS has been fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) since 1976, and, additionally fully accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) since 2012. The most recent accreditation was in 2019 (see 2019 report PDF). The CIS/WASC Standards for Accreditation are designed to ensure that a school offers an international education of high quality commensurate with the four “Driving Ideals” of international education:

  • The implementation of the mission, vision and values.
  • The nature and quality of learning and the resulting progress made by the students.
  • Protection, safety, security and overall well-being.
  • The development of global citizens.

The CIS/WASC accreditation process is on an ongoing, multi-year cycle in which the school must demonstrate the capacity, commitment and competence to support attainment of these three ‘driving ideals’. The process includes an in-depth school-conducted “self-study”, a comprehensive action-planning component, and evaluations by visiting teams.

The CIS/WASC accreditation process is widely recognized as the gold standard in international school accreditation, examining in depth every detail of a school through the drivers of student learning, well-being, international-mindedness, and the school’s own Guiding Statements. Through these drivers the school’s policies and practices in governance, staffing, finance, facilities, safety, resources and communications are evaluated alongside, of course, the key areas of student learning and well-being. 

The accreditation process uses standards set by CIS for both CIS and WASC, and ensures that NIS is able to attract and retain excellent teachers, and that our graduates are given serious consideration when applying to universities worldwide. 


Most Recent NIS Accreditation Process 

The start of the most recent accreditation cycle was fortunately not delayed due to COVID and the visiting team was able to come to Nagoya for a preparatory evaluation visit in December, 2022. The visiting team examined teaching and learning, viewed assessment results, met with staff, students, parents and board members, examined policies, practices and financial accounts and immersed themselves in our school over the course of a one-week visit.

After their visit, a report was given to the school with commendations and recommendations. We were delighted at the strengths the team found in our school – the quality of teaching and learning to meet our diverse learners needs, the strong and robust staff appraisal process, the effective governance of the school which has provided fiduciary and strategic leadership in service of the school, the multiple initiatives the school has put in place to support student well-being, the campus development projects such as the new field and new East Building and more. Of course there were areas identified in the report for us to improve, most of which were already identified as part of our review for the preparatory visit. This includes continued work to document the written curriculum informed by our revised guiding statements and improvements in technology and data systems. 

In addition to the positive report, we were especially happy to learn that NIS was successfully accepted into the ‘Pathway Two’ process. The ‘Pathway Two’ accreditation process is a new process developed by CIS/WASC that recognizes mature and successful schools that can evidence meeting all (or almost all) of the rigorous core standards at the early stage of the preparatory evaluation. ‘Pathway Two’ challenges school communities to focus on specific school-improvement projects that the school has identified. Being successful at this early stage and being able to choose ‘Pathway 2’ is an accomplishment to be celebrated, and means that NIS has demonstrated compliance with the rigorous standards and can move forward on more advanced projects to improve the school community. 

Work on these projects began in earnest from January, 2023 and we have staff action teams focusing on four exciting areas of growth as part of our ‘Pathway Two” process. The first will examine our continuum of learning for dispositions and well-being (see the PDF). The second will examine how our teaching models can fully align to the types of learning students encounter and the way that the human brain acquires these different types of learning (see the PDF). The third project will evolve our service learning and activities programs to see how these can deliver our mission more fully and with more impact for our students (see the PDF). Finally, our last project will look at how we can help parents better understand their child’s learning and partner with them in an ongoing learning journey at NIS. (see the PDF).  

Of course alongside these projects we will also be looking at the commendations and recommendations from the report itself to see where else we can improve. Additionally, results from the parent survey (English PDF | Japanese PDF) will also help guide areas of focus. 

Perhaps one of the important areas for schools around the world is to continue to build (or re-build!) community partnerships since schools have been impacted by COVID restrictions for so long. Embracing the future as a community school that shares our culture in an inclusive manner – parents, teachers and students working together for Inquire, Inspire and Impact – is the job of all of us as we move forward. 

The CIS/WASC work to be completed has been outlined within the 2023-24 "School Development Plan" (SDP), and everyone in our community is invited to review these documents and learn more about how we will continue to improve the learning and deliver the mission to our students. The CIS/WASC Visiting Team will come to NIS for a final visit during March 11-15, 2024, and this will be the final visit for this accreditation process cycle. 

We look forward to continuing our partnership with parents as we continue to work to improve the learning and the school environment for each of our students and thank you again for being a part of the NIS community!