The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
TASIS Re-Accredited by CIS and NEASC

Following an exhaustive process that included a yearlong self-study and culminated with a virtual visit from evaluation teams representing the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) in early November, TASIS The American School in Switzerland learned in January 2021 that it has officially been re-accredited by both CIS and NEASC. 

Special commendation for this important achievement is due to outgoing Modern Languages Department Chair Nilda Lucchini, who served as Accreditation Coordinator for this cycle and helped coordinate three others over the course of her distinguished 34-year career; to Headmaster Christopher Nikoloff, who has guided the School with a steady hand since his arrival in 2017; to the TASIS Board of Directors, which made invaluable contributions to the School’s self-study report; and to the many faculty and staff members who led committees throughout a lengthy accreditation process that involved nearly every member of the TASIS community.

On behalf of the TASIS Board of Directors, Mr. Nikoloff presented Ms. Lucchini with a gift
in recognition of her extraordinary efforts throughout the re-accreditation process.

The experienced group of educators that paid a virtual visit to TASIS in November submitted a Team Evaluation Report that was then reviewed by the CIS School Support and Evaluation Services and its advisors on behalf of the Council of International Schools. In a congratulatory letter to Mr. Nikoloff, CIS’s Director of International Accreditation Chris Durbin declared, “I am pleased to inform you that the report has been accepted, along with the recommendations it contains...Warmest congratulations to you, your staff, and the entire school community on this achievement.” 

In reaching its decision, CIS took into account the Evaluation Team's commendations, which were based on evidence of effective alignment with the standards for CIS International Accreditation. In granting the award of accreditation, CIS proclaimed that the commendations—or strengths of the School—far outweighed any deficiencies identified. “These strengths should be celebrated by the school community,” noted Mr. Durbin.

The following commendations were included in the Team Evaluation Report:

Topic: The school's purpose, direction, and decision-making are guided by clear guiding statements that are appropriate for the needs of all constituent groups.

Commendations to “the school community for embracing the founder's legacy and mission and using it effectively to inform its decision-making.”

Topic: The Guiding Statements endorse the school's commitment to developing intercultural learning.

Commendations to “the board of directors and staff for ensuring that the school's mission to develop cultural understanding within its student body is facilitated through a wide range of specific experiences that foster these skills.”

Topic: The respective roles and responsibilities of governance and ownership, and leadership and management, are suitably defined in writing and respected in practice for the sustainable development of the school.

Commendations to “the TASIS board of directors for its creation and publication of the TASIS Governance Roles document in reaction to the survey results, to enable a clearer public perception of the roles and responsibilities of ownership, governance, and management” and to “the headmaster, leadership team, and board of directors for their organized response to the community survey, resulting in improvements in communication throughout the TASIS community that has enhanced community well-being and organizational trust.”

Topic: The Proprietors/Governors ensure there are educational and financial plans to support the school's viability, the mission, and the programmes used to fulfil that mission—and that these plans are explained to the school community.

Commendations to “the board of directors for its development of procedures to ensure the finances and facilities are secure, especially in light of the global pandemic, and support the school's educational program and its mission.”

Topic: The leadership of the school has the inter-cultural competencies, perspectives, and appreciation needed for the school's unique cultural context.

Commendations to “the headmaster for opening lines of communication with the local community during the pandemic that ensured a continued trust of school leadership and decision-making.”

Topic: There is a clear roadmap for the storage, access, and use of data to enhance learning.

Commendations to “the board of directors, senior leadership, and the technology team for the creation of the comprehensive TASIS Technology Plan 2020-2023, which will guide technology acquisition and integration for the medium term.”

Topic: The documented curriculum is broad, balanced, and sequenced in a way to promote students' access and progression, and is guided by the mission of the school and the needs of the enrolled students.

Commendations to “the board, leadership, and staff for the development of an extensive program in and out of the classroom that provides students with opportunities to explore new paths and develop their passions in line with the school's mission and vision.”

Topic: The scope and sequence of the curriculum is thoroughly documented and articulated horizontally and vertically.

Commendations to “the academic leadership, curriculum coordinator, and teaching staff for improving unit planning through the identification of standards, essential skills, knowledge, and understandings, which has resulted in more robust and consistent unit development.”

Topic: The curriculum promotes the development of global citizenship and intercultural learning.

Commendations to “the board of directors, academic leadership, boarding, and academic staff for ensuring that the students work within a school system and related programs and curriculum that foster and develop an understanding and capacity to develop strong intercultural skills and dispositions set out by the founder in the school's mission.”

Topic: Teaching enables all students to gain access to the curriculum and to have the opportunities for success in their learning, relative to their abilities.

Commendations to “the TASIS faculty for their commitment to collaborative work in support of student learning,” to “the Learning Resource Center (LRC) department for leadership and mentoring to build teacher capacity in support of diverse student needs,” and to “the academic leadership team and faculty for providing streamed EAL content courses allowing these students access to the curriculum at their appropriate language level.”

Topic: Teaching engages the students in their learning to ensure that planned learning outcomes may be achieved.

Commendations to “the TASIS faculty for commitment to a rich and engaging learning program that benefits student learning.”

Topic: The assessment of students' learning and its reporting is based on clear, shared, and intelligible criteria that represent the attainment of knowledge, understanding, skills, and behaviors.

Commendations to “the academic leadership and faculty for developing a positive ethos related to assessment that supports student learning and development” and to “the students for demonstrating an understanding of the purpose of assessment feedback to improve learning, and acting upon it.”

Topic: Teaching draws on appropriate cultural and authentic contexts to provide meaning to the students in their intercultural development.

Commendations to “the board of directors, academic leadership, and faculty for developing a strong intercultural learning program to support the mission of the school.”

Topic: A range of high quality media and information technology is used meaningfully to enrich the quality of the students' learning.

Commendations to “the elementary tech coordinator and others who contributed to the comprehensive Technology Plan 2020-23, for crafting this thorough and well articulated document” and to “the faculty for developing a robust and effective distance and hybrid learning program as a response to COVID-19, in order to maintain continuity of learning for students.”

Topic: There are formal processes in place for recording, analyzing, and reporting evidence of both school-wide achievement and individual student's performance to parents and other appropriate stakeholders as a means of measuring success in meeting stated goals.

Commendations to “the teaching faculty for providing ongoing assessment and reporting information to parents, in support of student learning” and to “the academic leadership team and curricular leaders, for developing and updating a school-wide assessment policy to clearly articulate the purpose, expectations, and timelines for informal and formal assessment and reporting.”

Topic: There is sufficient teaching time allocated throughout the school to enable the planned curriculum to be taught effectively.

Commendations to “the leadership team for creating a school schedule to support student learning considering the multiple challenges faced in order to do so” and to “the academic dean for developing a course calendar that allows middle school and high school students to have a wide range of course options made available to them.”

Topic: Students with specific learning needs, including gifted and talented students, are given support from suitably qualified personnel to gain access to the curriculum and to make suitable progress, relative to their capabilities.

Commendations to “the LRC staff for leadership in the ‘Teacher to Teacher PD Series’ to build staff capacity in meeting diverse learning needs” and to “the leadership, LRC, and faculty for maintaining the student support team model that ensures student needs are discussed and purposefully addressed.”

Topic: Students with specific language needs are given support from suitably qualified personnel to gain access to the curriculum and to make suitable progress, relative to their capabilities.

Commendations to “the EAL team and middle and high school faculty for developing a range of EAL-leveled content courses for inclusion within the timetable across various subject areas.”

Topic: The school environment is characterized by openness, fairness, trust, and mutual respect to support students' learning and well-being, listen to their views, and develop their leadership qualities.

Commendations to “the leadership team and faculty for developing a trustworthy learning environment for students to lead and grow.”

Topic: The school has documented effective written policies to safeguard and promote the welfare of all enrolled students.

Commendations to “the leadership team for developing appropriate safeguarding policies for the overall well-being of the students” and to “the school counselor for developing an increased sensitivity regarding community needs in the areas of emotional, social, and mental well-being.”

Topic: The school implements policies and procedures in relation to anti-bullying, child protection, complaints, security, safeguarding, behaviour, discipline, sanctions, rewards and restraint, health education, and health records.

Commendations to “the leadership team for having a robust system of policies and procedures in place to make children feel safe away from home.”

Topic: The standards of health, safety, and security are supported by written policies and effective procedures, which exceed, where possible, local regulatory requirements.

Commendations to “the health center team for maintaining high standards of medical response and care in comparison to local requirements.”

Topic: The school has policies and procedures in place to provide safety against hazards such as fire, earthquake, or intruders: these exceed, where possible, local regulatory requirements.

Commendations to “the leadership team for acting responsibly and coming up with a plan for continuation of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Topic: The school provides health care and health education to support students' well-being and enhance access to learning opportunities.

Commendations to “the health center team for educating the students in maintaining their health and well-being.”

Topic: There is an effective and implemented written policy and procedures, including risk assessment, to support the health, safety, and security of students on activities outside the school.

Commendations to “the leadership team for having robust policies and procedures in place to support an out-of- school educational program underpinned by external activity risk procedures.”

Topic: The school offers university/college counselling, assessment, referral, educational, and career planning guidance suitable to the age/maturation of all the students in its care.

Commendations to “the college counseling team for using the latest and multiple online platforms to support the students in applying to institutes of higher education” and to “the board of governors and school leadership for ensuring a smooth handover from the retiring guidance counselor to the new guidance counselor to ensure institutional memory is retained.”

Topic: Those students and families making transitions between divisions of the school, and in and out of the school, are supported effectively through advice, counseling, and appropriate information.

Commendations to “the deans of students for implementing a smooth transition for incoming students to each new program.”

Topic: Staff recruitment and retention is managed in accordance with the CIS Code of Ethics.

Commendations to “the HR department for creating a comprehensive Recruitment & Retention Information document that is pivotal in informing staff at TASIS.”

Topic: Written policies and guidelines establish expectations for the performance of all staff—faculty and support staff—that are applied consistently.

Commendations to “the senior leadership team for comprehensive and dynamic handbooks that establish clear expectations for all staff and faculty.”

Topic: All staff is employed under a written contract or employment agreement that states the principal terms of agreement between the employee and the school, and which provides for salaries and other benefits that are appropriate to the position and to the school's context.

Commendations to “the headmaster and senior leadership team in allowing for faculty voice in the decision-making of sensitive school matters.”

Topic: The school maintains accommodation, grounds, facilities, services, and equipment to enable it to fulfill its mission, provide the curriculum in full, and offer a safe, secure, clean, and healthy environment for the students and adults at the school.

Commendations to “the TASIS Foundation, TASIS board of directors, and the leadership team for the planning and creation of an attractive campus with assurances for security and safety.”

Topic: The technology infrastructure and data systems support the school's teaching, learning, and managerial needs.

Commendations to “the board, leadership team, and technology team for the development of a school-wide technology plan with timelines and financial underpinnings to ensure the educational programs and school management infrastructure are supported.”

Topic: The school provides or arranges for auxiliary services as required to support its mission and the education programs offered, and ensures that such services meet acceptable standards of safety, efficiency, and comfort.

Commendations to “the school auxiliary staff for providing a clean, safe, and secure campus for members of the school community.”

Topic: Effective communications foster a productive home-school partnership and a positive learning community.

Commendations to “the communications team and senior leadership for publishing timely, high-quality external communication that has built trust, improved the sense of community, and improved learning at the school” and to “the senior leadership team and board of directors, for providing clear, timely, and relevant updates and information to the community related to the school's response to COVID-19.”

Topic: The school establishes partnerships and networks with other schools, locally and beyond the country, to enrich the learning opportunities available to the students, including, for example, service, mentoring, internships, and the development of students' leadership.

Commendations to “the faculty for developing and maintaining a wide range of partnerships with local, regional, and international organizations that enrich the learning experience for students.”

Topic: The school implements policies and procedures in relation to anti-bullying, child protection, complaints, security, safeguarding, behavior, discipline, sanctions, rewards and restraint, health education, and boarders' health records.

Commendations to “the residential team for keeping the boarding procedures updated in the student handbook in order to ensure currency among all constituents.”

Topic: The induction and support of boarding and homestay students enables these students to be secure in their learning.

Commendations to “the boarding team for being at the heart of the welfare and learning needs of the students and ensuring their well-being” and to “the dorm parents for their commitment in carrying out a process to allow students to evaluate their progress.”

Topic: The school provides health and well-being support to residential students, including medical treatment and first aid, care of sick students/staff, the management of health and personal problems, crisis management, and health well-being education.

Commendations to “the health center team for maintaining high standards of service to the community to ensure student and staff well-being.”

Topic: The school demonstrates how it manages its finances and how well it manages its finances. 

Commendations to “the business office, finance committee, and head of school for developing and adhering to fiscal practices that enable the school to budget effectively and secure economic stability.”

Topic: The school outlines how it plans financially and relates this to its strategic planning and the school's Purpose and Direction.

Commendations to “the TASIS Foundation and TASIS board of directors for implementing a business plan that maximizes the school's financial opportunities to improve facilities, resources, and operations to enhance opportunities for students in a non-profit organization” and to “the TASIS alumni and parent body for supporting the school through donations towards capital expenditure projects.”

The Evaluation Team also identified several areas for development in the conclusion of its report, including the following:

  • The School should aim to create and publish a review cycle to ensure a regular review of the policies that govern operation procedures, including guiding statements, boarding mission, and principles. 
  • The School should further refine its salary strategy and workload, which will result in greater transparency, heightened staff morale, and improved long-term fiscal stability. 
  • To help develop a shared understanding of the unique boarding experience, the School should create opportunities for boarding students and staff to share their experience, expectations, and protocols for boarding with all staff members. 
  • To best serve students with EAL needs, the School should provide comprehensive training for all new and existing faculty with the aim of developing strategies to support EAL students in mainstream classes.
  • In light of the current educational landscape, the School should look to the Technology Department for novel ideas on how to collaborate virtually and how to facilitate the sharing of ideas among staff. 

The Evaluation Team has asked the School to review and address these recommendations in advance of its next CIS re-accreditation process, which will begin with the submission of a Preparatory Evaluation Report in the first half of 2024 and culminate with a visit from the Evaluation Team in the latter stages of 2025.

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