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Become Accredited >  Protocols >  Schools > 
For Schools    
The majority of our member schools will use one of two protocols for self-study:Excellence by Design (EBD) or Designing our Future (DOF). DOF is our more traditional protocol, recommended for a school seeking accreditation for the first time or a school that has gone through significant changes. EBD is for schools seeking re-accreditation. 
 
Short descriptions are below or you can review a comparison chart of these two protocols.
 
Schools should consult with MSA staff to determine the most appropriate self-study protocol.

Designing Our Future (DOF) is a self-study and accreditation protocol primarily focusing on growing and improving the school's capacity to produce the levels of student performance desired and expected by its community of stakeholders. Organizational capacity is defined by the 12 Middle States Standards for Accreditation for Schools that represent the "building blocks" required for a quality school and educational program (e.g., finances, facilities, student services, etc.). Through this protocol, the school determines which areas of its curriculum and organizational capacity are the priorities for growth and improvement, sets measurable goals to address these priorities, and then establishes a plan to achieve its objectives.
 
Excellence by Design (ExBD) is a self-study and accreditation protocol that uses strategic planning as a vehicle for establishing objectives for growth and improvement in student performance and in the school’s capacity to effect that growth. In addition, the protocol provides for a continuous review of programs and services and of the results of student performance. It also enables diverse constituent groups to participate in charting the future of the institution.
  
 
Sustaining Excellence uses strategic planning and action research as vehicles for growth and improvement in student performance and in the school's capacity to effect that growth.

The Sustaining Excellence Protocol provides an option for schools that can demonstrate 1) their efficacy, over time, in producing the levels of student performance desired and expected by their community of stakeholders and 2) what Doug Reeves (Reeves, Doug. (2006). The Learning Leader: How to Focus School Improvement for Better Results. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.) calls a "leading school." Leading schools are those that are achieving high levels of student performance, have an excellent understanding of the necessary antecedents for those results, and are likely to continue achieving those high results over time.

Schools that desire to use the Sustaining Excellence Protocol for reaccreditation by the Middle States Association must demonstrate they meet the following criteria:
The school:
  • Has strong evidence that it is and has been effective growing, improving, and/or sustaining student performance, especially in academics, over time. (Note: theSustaining Excellence Protocol will be made available to any school that can demonstrate its effectiveness--students are learning and growing over time--not just schools that are "high performing" in terms of state assessments, national/state rankings, etc.);
  • Has a demonstrated history of continuous accreditation by the Middle States Association or another recognized accrediting agency;
  • Based on its record of past accreditation, will likely be able to provide evidence that it meets the requirements of the 12 Middle States for Accreditation; and,
  • Has a history of excellent accreditation results free from monitoring issues and/or stipulations
Approval of the Commissions' staff must be obtained to use the Sustaining Excellence protocol.
  
 
For Career and Technical Institutions: Reflections on Standards of Quality (Career and Technical Version)
Reflections on Standards of Quality (Career and Technical Version) is designed and required for use by institutions that offer career and technical programs to secondary and/or postsecondary students and that seek to use their accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools (MSA-CSS) to establish eligibility to participate in federal Title IV student air programs for their adult (postsecondary) students. Reflections (C/T) offers a protocol for evaluating the entire institution, secondary and/or postsecondary, and all of the components of its educational program—career and technical and academic—as well as all other aspects of the institution’s operations.
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