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Why seek Membership and Subscriptions > The Standards for Membership

Due to the range in our member schools and the corresponding variation in philosophy,
program, procedures, and style, these standards have been developed to focus on the elements that should be common to all good independent schools.

Policies and Practices

1. The school shall be incorporated as a not-for profit organization and shall have been granted by the
Internal Revenue Service 501(c)(3) status or equivalent form of tax-exempt status.
2. There shall be no discrimination against any person in admissions, employment, or otherwise that is
in violation of the law.
3. The school shall maintain its facilities and equipment so as to meet applicable health, fire, safety, and
sanitary standards and have current documentation on file confirming the safety standards.
4. There shall be at least two professional, opinion-level audits of the school’s finances within each
seven-year cycle, one which shall occur during the fiscal year preceding the on-site accreditation visit
(usually Year 2) and the second during Year 5 of the accreditation cycle. The school shall respond to
and/or demonstrate plans to address any qualifications or recommendations stated in the audit.
5. The school and its governance structure shall be organized with sufficient independence from other
organizations or individuals so as to ensure its ability to fulfill its mission and to control its own
6. The school shall subscribe to the ISACS statement of “Principles of Good Practice in Admissions and
Employment” with respect to employment of faculty and admission of students and shall be guided by
the NAIS “Principles of Good Practice” in all other areas of school operations.
7. There shall be full disclosure of the school’s mission, policies, programs and practices.
8. There shall be a high degree of congruence between the stated mission of the school and the actual
program and practices of the school.
9. The school shall provide clear evidence that it permits and encourages freedom of inquiry. The school
shall stress the teaching of critical reasoning and independent thinking as opposed to indoctrination.
10. The school shall demonstrate its commitment to quality improvement through its compliance with
the required ISACS septennial accreditation program including a survey of constituents, self-study,
visitation by an ISACS team, and prescribed follow-up activity and reports.
11. The board shall show evidence that it has given full consideration to the implications of accepting
funds from any organization, governmental or otherwise, which may exercise regulatory or doctrinal
control over the school.
12. The school shall demonstrate its commitment to the ISACS concept and definition of independence.
13. The school shall have at least one ISACS teacher representative.
14. The school shall be aware of and in compliance with all state requirements for full recognition and
approval to operate as an independent school in the state in which the school is located.
15. The school shall possess written security, crisis, and risk management plans, and shall annually
communicate and practice the plans as appropriate with all members of the school community.

Purpose, Goals and Philosophy

1.There shall be a clearly articulated statement of educational mission and philosophy that reflects the
individual character of the school, based upon sound educational tenets. Such a statement shall reflect
the characteristics and needs of the school’s students, be implemented by a specific statement of goals
and/or objectives, and be manifested in the educational program. If an ISACS school is religiously
affiliated, the academic and extracurricular programs must be based primarily on an educational
2. The governing body shall at least once every seven years review, revise if necessary, and approve
the statement of educational mission and philosophy; it shall be understood and supported by the
governing body, administration, faculty, and staff.
3. Where appropriate, the development and periodic review of the philosophy and objectives shall be a
collective effort involving faculty, students, administrators, parents and the board of trustees.
4. In keeping with its purpose, goals and philosophy, the school shall demonstrate its commitment to
an inclusive and equitable school community for all its constituencies, through all of its program and
operations, regardless of ability, age, gender, race, religion, sexual identity, socio-economic status, or
other identifiers important to the school.

Community of the School

1. There shall be clearly defined admissions policies and procedures that demonstrate consistency with
the stated mission and philosophy of the school and that provide the general criteria upon which
admissions are made.
2. The school shall require each candidate for admission to undergo an evaluation process to enable the
school and the student to determine if matriculation would be mutually beneficial. A student shall be
admitted only when it is determined that the school can reasonably expect to meet the needs of the
3. Prior to a student’s enrollment, parents (or guardian) shall be fully informed of their financial
responsibilities to the school.
4. There shall be clearly defined policies and procedures that promote a climate of emotional and
physical safety among students and between students and the faculty and staff. Discipline practices
shall be humane and mindful of the inherent dignity in every student. Corporal punishment is an
unacceptable practice.
5. The school shall be attentive to the quality of life of all members of the learning community and take
appropriate actions to create a positive learning and social environment.
6. The school shall have an organization and procedures for the effective communication with, and
involvement of, parents in a way that is appropriate to their interests as well as the purposes and
objectives of the school.

Program, Activities, and Student Services

1. The program shall be based on guiding beliefs and assumptions shared broadly by the faculty
and administration, which evolve from the school’s statement of educational mission and purpose.
Such beliefs shall include an understanding of ways in which students learn and develop, and the
appropriate means of instruction for all students enrolled in the school.
2. The school shall promote student development in the major domains of human learning.
3. The school’s program shall include an appropriate selection of experiences among the humanities, fine
arts, world language, mathematics, science, social studies, and physical education as is appropriate for
the ages, needs, and abilities of students enrolled in the school.
4. The school shall stress the teaching of knowledge, skills, critical reasoning, and independent thinking
as opposed to indoctrination.
5. In keeping with its mission, the program shall have sufficient range for the learning styles,
developmental needs and cultural backgrounds of the students enrolled in the school.
6. The program shall include a balance of academic, extracurricular, and athletic activities as is
consistent with the school’s purpose.
7. The school shall have a curriculum that is articulated in written form and evident in the program
of the school. Provision shall be made for faculty involvement in periodic review, evaluation and
development of the school’s program.
8. The school shall provide adequate program support that reflects the school’s philosophy including
library/media and technology services, guidance services, special needs support, and health services.

9. The school day and year shall be sufficient for the total school program to achieve its goals.
10. The school shall demonstrate an assessment process to measure growth, development, and
achievement of students


Governance and Administration

1. A board of trustees (governors, directors) shall be sufficient in number to affect the growth and
prosperity of the school and shall develop major school policies, oversee and maintain the financial
stability of the school, lead in fundraising and promotion, and employ, evaluate, and support the school
2. The administration shall be developed and organized so as to carry out policies effectively. It shall be
responsible for school programs, personnel, facilities, and resources, including the employment of all
faculty, staff and support personnel.
3. The school shall demonstrate effective boundaries between the policy-making role of the board and
the role of the school head as the manager of day-to-day operations.
4. The board and administration shall provide for a clearly stated decision-making process, for an
ongoing and continuous process of strategic planning, for the periodic review of school organization,
and for appropriate modification of programs and services.
5. The board shall generate necessary resources for providing and maintaining physical facilities,
equipment and materials adequate to support the program of the school.
6. There shall be appropriate procedures for management of financial resources including budget
development, fiscal management, accounting, auditing such accounts, and long-range planning.
7. The school shall provide adequate fundraising, public relations, and financial management support to
achieve the school’s mission.
8. There shall be evidence of regular, documented evaluation of the performance of the administration,
faculty and staff, and understood procedures for non-renewal and termination of employment. The
board shall regularly conduct a self-evaluation and make provision for periodic board development.
9. There shall be periodic review, at least once every seven years, of the school’s by-laws to ensure
compliance with law and with the best current practice.


1. The administration, faculty and staff shall be qualified for their positions and responsibilities by
education and/or experience.
2. There shall be clearly established procedures for recruiting, screening, and interviewing prospective
faculty and staff.
3. There shall be fair and appropriate personnel policies, salaries, and benefits for all employees.
4. Each employee shall be clearly informed of his or her compensation, term of employment, and
principal duties.
5. The school shall demonstrate a commitment to the professional development of its staff. (Examples
might include any or all of the following: funding professional development at appropriate levels;
providing new teachers with training and mentors; encouraging attendance at professional
conferences and workshops; expecting staff to develop individual professional development plans;
assignment of school-wide professional development responsibilities to the ISACS rep; etc.).
6. There shall be adequate procedures for identifying changing needs and priorities in faculty and staff

Other Programs

1. If there is a residential program, it shall be so conceived and staffed to fulfill that aspect of the
school’s program, particularly with respect to the portion of the day outside regular classroom hours.
Applicable health and safety regulations shall be fully observed.
2. The relationship between the school and any special programs it offers on a supplementary basis
(summer sessions, before and after school programs, special education, seminars, institutes, etc.) shall
be fully disclosed. The operation of such supplementary programs shall not be in conflict with the
school’s purpose or ISACS standards for regular programs.

Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools  •  Contact Information

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