After more than a year of preparation and review, EXPLO has gained accreditation by the Middle States Association (MSA) Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools, a worldwide leader in accreditation and continuous school improvement.
Middle States accreditation serves as confirmation that schools and organizations meet a defined set of research-based performance standards. As part of the multifaceted accreditation evaluation process, EXPLO was required to provide evidence to support their compliance with those standards, which include mission, governance and leadership, organizational improvement planning, finances, facilities, faculty and staff, health and safety, educational program, assessment and evidence of student learning, student services, student life and activities, and information resources. In addition, EXPLO provided evidence that addressed the EXPLO classroom experience, teacher professional development, teacher training, curricular design, pastoral care, and extracurricular programming.
Gathering this evidence required a significant self-study, during which the EXPLO team articulated and documented the objectives, processes, and outcomes of all of EXPLO’s programs. Following their review of this self-study, a team of MSA employees and educators conducted ‘peer review’ visits to EXPLO’s summer campuses to meet with students and staff as well as a site visit to the Exploration Center where they met with stakeholders including trustees, employees, and parents.
In their final report, the MSA visiting team noted that they observed many exceptional areas in their analysis and review of EXPLO, saying:
“EXPLO has exceptionally high standards for emotional and physical well-being, where success and failure are not only acceptable, but also encouraged.”
“We want to commend the entire staff, both leadership and teaching staff, on their approach to learning from an engagement and inquiry standpoint.”
“The organization is truly committed to its mission and we want to commend EXPLO on the integration of the mission such that both staff and leadership have been part of the organization, starting as students and summer staff positions.”
“I’m thrilled that the MSA visiting team observed so many of the things that we believe are our strengths. What they confirmed is that our claims about building a sense of belonging and community, as well as designing engaging learning experiences, are not simply marketing claims but the essence of who we are, what we do, and what we value,” says Moira Kelly, EXPLO President.
Moira credits Adam LaVallee, Dean of Studies at EXPLO’s Pre-College program, with EXPLO’s pursuit of MSA accreditation. Adam made the case that, while EXPLO’s summer academic enrichment programs are consistently applauded by students and families, MSA accreditation would provide prospective families with irrefutable, independent evidence that EXPLO does indeed provide the highest-quality programming and the best possible learning environments for students. As a former faculty member of Episcopal Academy, Adam served as that school’s internal accreditation coordinator and was able to guide the EXPLO team through the accreditation process and requirements.
To learn more about MSA accreditation, visit https://www.msa-cess.org/.