The ISACS Evaluation Process

The Independent Schools Association of the Central States monitors independent schools of the Midwest.

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The Independent Schools Association of the Central States monitors independent schools of the Midwest.

Bela De Jesus, Managing Editor of Global Perspectives

The Independent Schools Association of the Central States, or ISACS, is an organization located in Chicago that monitors and regulates independent schools in the Midwest in order to assure they are performing at their best. Their goal is for each of the members, or schools, under their jurisdiction to achieve equity, integrity, and continuous improvement. 

ISACS ensures this by having each of their midwest schools go through a seven year cycle, in which the school prepares, self studies, is accredited by submitting a report and getting visited by a team, creates a reaction report, implements ideas, creates a progress report, and then reviews the process. 

Lake Forest Academy is a member of ISACS and has gone through this seven year process before. LFA is now in the self-study process, meaning the school is taking a deep dive into what students’ life is truly like. Tom Johnson, Dean of Faculty, and Ardelle Hagar, Mathematics Teacher, are co-chairs of the process. The analysis of an entire school seems like a big task–and it is–but Johnson and Hagar have delegated the work accordingly.

They have created committees that discuss different aspects of the school, from academics to boarding life to business. Committees consist of faculty, students, alumni, parents, and Sodexo staff who have a speciality and experience in that area. These committees meet four times over the year, and at the end of the process, they will develop a report about the strengths, weaknesses, and possible solutions in their field. This report will be written as a debrief for the visiting ISACS team in 2022.

The process is incredibly unique, as it is rare that students, teachers, alumni, Sodexo staff, and parents are all working together. Normally a process like this would be very adult driven, however, LFA chose to include student voices. When asked what the student voice meant, Tom Johnson, Dean of Faculty and co-chair of the accreditation process, stated that, “Students have a great perspective on what being here is like, and it would be a tragedy not to have the expertise.”

From a student’s point of view, it could be intimidating. However, Steven Sun, a junior on the boarding life committee, said the contrary. He believes, “The conversation is kind of like friends, everyone is relaxed and giving out suggestions and there’s no worries if you don’t agree with an idea.” 

The accreditation process means a lot to the future of LFA, as it allows for an introspective analysis of what is going right and what is going wrong that can help it improve in the future. As Johnson put it so well, it can help LFA identify a “road map for where we go in the next 5 years”, and make sure each part of the LFA community has a space to voice their concerns.