SACS Accredited

Accreditation


Meeting Standards

The Branch School, a private school in west Houston, has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1998. As a member of the Houston Association of Independent Schools, we are part of a network of well- known private schools. Our graduates have performed successfully at many highly-regarded private and public schools as well as colleges and universities. The Branch School admits students of any religion, race, color, or national and ethnic origin. Reaccreditation takes place every five years. Highlights from the 2008 reaccreditation can be seen below as well as the one from 2013. The latest reaccreditation took place in March 2013.

Please see notes from The Head of School and highlights of the 2013 Re-accreditation External Review Report.

Notes from The Head of School - Report of Our Re-accreditation

The Branch School has successfully completed the external review process to be recommended for accreditation for five more years. It was great to be validated by such an auspicious group as visited our school in March. Dr. James May from AdvancED, and his committee, showed great focus and expertise to effectively evaluate our evidence of learning in an overall highly functioning school.  

All stakeholders are invited to request a copy of the full report, but here are highlights from the External Review Report:

"The external review was conducted over a two-day period from March 5th to March 6th, 2013. The school did an outstanding job of preparing for the visit. The team was highly impressed with how objective the school appeared to be in completing the Self Assessment and how it had done its due diligence in organizing information related to each indicator. The team interviewed a total of 21 stakeholders including support staff, teachers, parents, students and the leadership team along with conducting classroom observations. The Oral Exit Report was formally delivered and well received by the school which sincerely thanked the team for its insights and suggestions for continuous improvement. The team was highly impressed with what the school had accomplished thus far and how it is focused on continuous improvement."

"The school honors the ideals of trust, respect, and engagement. The process by which the school systematically engaged its stakeholders in reviewing the school's mission statement and the process by which the school completed the Self Assessment was most impressive. The team encountered multiple pieces of evidence that the leadership trusts the teachers, that teachers cheerfully assume their responsibilities, and that students are provided a virtual risk-free environment to pursue their own interests and learning styles to achieve deeper levels of holistic understanding. The school makes learning relevant to 21st century issues, conditions, and problems."

"Students have a highly stimulating environment in which to learn. They are offered significant choices in pursuit of their learning and they are tasked with undergoing careful reflection on their learning. There is a high level of acceptance of ideas, but not without applying criteria for evaluation of those ideas. Especially noteworthy is the conceptual approach taken toward math. The combination of the teachers and the program make for a virtually risk-free opportunity to explore a challenging subject."

Here are our opportunities for improvement, which are a required part of the process for all schools; in each area, there is already much progress: 

"Direct all board members to attend formal training relative to their roles and responsibilities."

"Supply in-house training from current qualified staff on the use, interpretation, and evaluation of data based on expressed needs of teachers and other stakeholders."

"Identify appropriate data to be generated on group performance of students to complement comprehensive information on individual students."

Here is the closing statement of the report:

"The team was highly impressed with many aspects of the school and highly recommends that the AdvancED Accreditation Commission grant a new five-year term of accreditation to The Branch School pending further review and final action by the AdvancED Accreditation Commission."

Highlights of the Quality Assurance Review Report: Reaccreditation 2008

[The complete report is available on request. The report of the Quality Assurance Review Team was prepared by AdvancED which is the unified organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and National Study of School Evaluation.]

Following are highlights taken from a 16-page report written by the educational review team of three who conducted a two-day concentrated evaluation of The Branch School. Specifically, the team examined the school's systems and processes related to the seven AdvanceED standards:

  • Vision and Purpose
  • Governance and Leadership
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Documenting and Using Results
  • Resource and Support Systems
  • Stakeholder Communications and Relationships
  • Commitment to Continuous Improvement


Taken from Commendations, Description, and Strengths

Commendations

  • The Branch School maintains a clear and powerful focus on student performance that permeates all levels of the organization.

As evidenced by statements from stakeholder interviews and through classroom observations, all stakeholders know the school's student performance objectives, are aware of current performance levels, and can articulate what strategies are being implemented to address gaps in performance.

Standards of Accreditation

The primary requirement for accreditation is that The Branch School demonstrates that it meets the seven standards for accreditation.

Standard 1. Vision and Purpose


Standard: The school establishes and communicates a shared purpose and direction for improving the performance of students and the effectiveness of the school.

  • The Branch School's vision, mission and values provide focus for direction for all stakeholders throughout the school community.
  • Interviews with staff members, parents and students indicated strong knowledge of the commitment to the school's vision, mission, and values.
  • The school and stakeholders continue to focus all efforts on student success and student values. The school vision guides allocations of time and human, material, and fiscal resources.

Standard 2. Governance and Leadership


Standard: The school provides governance and leadership that promote student performance and school effectiveness:

  • The Branch School has a very active Board of Trustees in which several members serve on the executive committee and work directly with long-term objectives. The leaders are clearly advocates for the vision and all improvement efforts.
  • The leadership of the school, including the Board and school leadership, are very aggressive in evaluating programs and school improvement efforts.
  • Progressive change is encouraged and welcomed as part of the process of updating policies and procedures and improving the school program and learning environment.

Standard 3. Teaching and Learning


Standard: The school provides research-based curriculum and instructional methods that facilitate achievement for all students.

  • ... it was evident that teaching and learning are geared toward the whole child. The focus is on conceptual learning and problem-solving. Parents supported this by stating that learning was not memorization, but rather learning concepts.
  • As a part of the school's philosophy to "teach the whole child," teachers are given ample opportunities for staff development. The QAR team praises this effort and considers it a strong practice for the implementation of methods that focus on problem-solving and conceptual learning. Clearly, teachers focus on the individual needs of the child.
  • Character education is emphasized in awards given periodically throughout the school year to students recognized for exhibiting good character.

Standard 4. Documenting and Using Results


Standard: The school enacts a comprehensive assessment system that monitors and documents performance and uses these results to improve student performance and school effectiveness.

  • The students are constantly assessed on learning objectives that are based on the TEKS and the self-developed curriculum guide
  • Teachers have been trained in the writing process and differentiated instruction. These are examples of reviewing data to determine the need for instructional change.

Standard 5. Resource and Support Systems


Standard: The school has the resources and services necessary to support its vision and purpose and to ensure achievement for all students.

  • The QAR committee reviewed the very extensive evaluation instrument used two times yearly for teachers.
  • Continued training for teachers is offered. Teachers are required to obtain 150 hours of professional development over a 5-year period. Artifacts and interviews indicate teacher training in differentiated instruction, 21st century thinking skills, and the ability to teach problem-solving and conceptual learning skills.
  • The Branch School has excellent financial resources which are in addition to tuition receipts. An endowment has been established to secure the future of the school, and grants are pursued to provide scholarships, training, and overall development of the school.
  • The leadership provides great support for the teaching staff. Staff members have direct access to the Head of School and indicated that she is interested and open to any and all suggestions that will benefit students.
  • Assessment and evaluation drive the school improvement process.

Standard 6. Stakeholder Communications and Relationships


Standard: The school fosters effective communications and relationships with and among its stakeholders.

  • Stakeholder communication efforts are many and often.
  • The school has commitment and support from all stakeholders. School personnel actively promote and provide regular, systematic opportunities for collaboration and shared leadership among stakeholders to help students learn and advance improvement efforts.

Standard 7. Commitment to Continuous Improvement


Standard: The school establishes, implements, and monitors a continuous process of improvement that focuses on student performance.

  • The process for continuous improvement of student learning has a high priority by the Board as well as the school community stakeholders in general.
  • The school fully implements a collaborative and ongoing process for improvement that aligns all functions of the school with the expectations for student learning. Improvement efforts are systemic, sustained, and fully embedded, and the school demonstrates significant progress in improving student performance and school effectiveness.

The review team also listed areas where they felt there were opportunities for continuous improvement. The main recommendation was that The Branch School form a committee to study and implement technological improvements. In line with this recommendation, the school has formed a Technology Committee which has developed a strategic plan to address the technological needs of the school for the next three years.