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NEASC and CIS Accreditation

Richard Bampfylde

International College has for years been a leading academic institution in Lebanon and the Middle East. This is testament to the many professionals who have, for years, been promoting academic integrity at the school.  In the 1997-1998 school year, IC received its first New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and Educational Collaborative for International Schools (ECIS) accreditation. Keeping up with the tradition of excellence, the school once again renewed this dual certification in March of 2018.

NEASC is the longest running accreditation agency in the United States ensuring that schools maintain higher standards of education at all levels.  Similarly, the Council of International Schools (CIS) fosters and commits to providing students with a knowledge and skill set which leads to global and international mindedness.  Dr. Mahmud Shihab, ERC Director and IC's accreditation coordinator, explains that “the accreditation process is not only to recognize IC’s continuous efforts for quality education, but it establishes ongoing improvement through self reflection combined with external validation by experienced visitors from international schools around the world.”  NEASC and CIS periodically update and revise these research-based standards on which schools are evaluated.  IC has achieved the most recent accreditation assuring that students at IC are receiving the highest level of educational experiences.

This gives students who graduate from IC an edge when applying to universities both locally and abroad.  It shows admissions officers that these pupils are being taught with the most up-to-date curriculum that has been adjusted to suit what they need to know after graduation.  A 30-year veteran teacher at IC, Rima Khishen, has experienced the accreditation process first-hand many times and has also been a part of the accreditation team visiting other international schools.  She states, “If we want to meet the needs of the workforce, we need to keep changing.”  Making sure the school is always growing and accommodating different needs is one thing that the NEASC and CIS accreditation focuses on.  

For IC to be recognized as an accredited school with NEASC and CIS, the process is thorough and comprehensive.  It begins with the school preparing a preparatory, self-evaluation report, based on which, the school has a preparatory visit by the accrediting agency.  The preliminary visits happen approximately 18 months in advance of the main visit and is led by a CIS School Support and Evaluation Officer.  These external evaluators may include other teachers or administrators from other schools world wide, and they meet with IC administrators to discuss school priorities for the upcoming visit.  The process encompasses every facet of IC from each department in every school to the infirmary and physical plant.

As a community, IC recognizes where it is exceling and where it can improve.  “Through self-reflection, the school goes through growth,” Zeina Dayya affirmed when speaking about her many years of experiencing the undertaking of the accreditation process in the Educational Resources Center.

At the time of the external accreditation visit, approximately 14 educators from other international schools come to IC and observe everything that happens in a given week - even observing fire-drill procedures in each school.  The full visit is usually chaired by an experienced head of school or equivalent, knowledgeable of our academic programs.  From these interactions and observations, they assess IC’s strengths and areas for improvement.  Thus begins the making of a strategic plan.  The goals identified are based on the IC mission statement; therefore, the process is unique to each school and culture that is accredited.  It is not a one-size-fits-all process.  The recommendations of the accrediting agencies help IC refine its strategic plan and provide an external validation for continuous school improvement.  

The accreditation process occurs every five years, making IC’s next visit in 2023.  In order to benefit fully from the accreditation visits, the school reviews its mission statement every five years to ensure it encompasses what is new within the workforce world and the goals of.  

It is a great accomplishment that IC continues to be accredited with NEASC and CIS ensuring that the quality of education is at the highest standards.