FAQ

WHAT IS SCISA?

The South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) provides a structure within which member schools share an awareness of mutual problems and experiences, profit from each others’ handling of these problems, and have the advantage in the operation of their respective schools and the expertise and data that is collected by and available to the Association. In this scnse, the SCISA gives unity and strength to the cause of independent education. Speaking for the collective association, it monitors legislation and speaks with authority and is listened to by the public, news media, the legislature, and elected officials.

HOW DOES MY SCHOOL JOIN?

Click on the “Membership Application” link on the right sidebar of the home page to apply.

 

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AN ACCREDITED SCHOOL?

I. An accredited independent elementary school must employ qualified (defined II, B) teachers and other necessary staff personnel, maintain a proper pupil-teacher ratio (defined II G), use a course of study appropriate to its pupils, adopt adequate textbooks approved by appropriate personnel or by a committee on standards representing the SCISA, provide adequate library services and adequate guidance services including annual use of nationally recognized tests to validate local evaluation and to determine proper placement.

II. An accredited independent secondary school must meet the minimum standards set by the SCISA. To be accredited, an independent secondary school must:

A.   Employ a school administrator with at least a bachelor’s degree who does not teach more than two of the following: Two periods a day or coach two varsity athletic teams, or one of each.  An assistant administrator, who teaches less than a full load, is required in schools over 250 enrollment.

B. Employ teachers in grades K5 (hired after January 1994) through 12 whose academic training, experience, or combination of same, fully indicate the professional ability, insight and enthusiasm necessary to complete classroom assignments satisfactorily. Each teacher in grades K5 through 12 must have a minimum of a state certificate and/or bachelor’s degree.

C. Employ a sufficient number of such teachers to sustain a curriculum that shall include one or both of the following:

GENERAL DIPLOMA REQUIREMENTS:

SUBJECT UNITS
English 4
*Mathematics 3
*Science 3
*Social Studies (One of these must be a unit in American History) 3
Electives 5
  * Two units of the same foreign language may be substituted for two of the following three units:
One unit of science, one unit of mathematics, or one unit of social studies.

COLLEGE PREPARATORY DIPLOMA REQUIREMENTS:

SUBJECT UNITS
English 4
Mathematics (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II) 3
Science (Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics, I and/or) 3
Social Studies (American History, European History, Government/Economics 1/2 each) 3
Foreign Language (Two units of the same language) 2
Physical Education 1
Electives 4

 

Appropriate research experiences should be included in the curriculum.  These may apply to one “track” of a high school with more than one curriculum or to a high school as a whole. If only part of the school is meeting these, the administration must be sure the Board, pupils, and parents are aware of which pupils are in which “track,” and the school’s diploma should indicate the distinction.
A school chartered for diagnosed learning disabilities may receive special consideration in the areas of course requirements and grade level promotion.

Levels in each curriculum as applicable to each individual member school:

FOR ADVANCEMENT TO GENERAL DIPLOMA COLLEGE PREPARATORY:

Sophomore (grade 10) 4 units 4 units Junior (grade 11) 8 units 9 units Senior (grade 12) 13 units 14 units Graduation 18 units 20 units
Each member school shall determine eligibility for grade placement according to entrance tests, past records, and the needs of each individual student.

D. Operate the school no fewer than 5 1/2 hours per day for a minimum of 180 school days (gross) per year. This is defined as no less than 175 student school days per session with only three half-day exam days each semester being allowed to count toward the total number of days as a full day. Gross days are defined as student days plus faculty in-service days. One-unit courses meet five days per week for a minimum of 45 minutes each period or the equivalent.

E. Provide an on-campus, centralized (inventoried and controlled) access to sufficient library books, technological and other resources, to supplement and enrich the total school program emphasizing instruction in research skills. Complete library standards are included in accreditation standard packets. Note: Use of off-campus research facilities is encouraged, but this should not take the place of the on-campus facility.

F. Provide adequate guidance services including annual use of nationally recognized achievement tests to validate local evaluation and to determine proper placement. Administer achievement tests to four grades each year and I.Q. tests to at least three grades each year through the SCISA testing program. In addition, P.S.A.T.’s must be given in the 10th or 11th grade.

G. Realize that though the SCISA strongly recommends a maximum class size of 25 pupils per class, schools may increase this number to 28 per class. Any increase above 28 requires action of the school’s Board of Directors and must be documented and be available to the SCISA upon request.

H. Keep adequate permanent records on teachers and pupils, including current valid transcripts on all teachers and pupils. An official transcript or copy of the official transcript showing the college seal is required on teachers and administrators.

I. Schools must make provisions for annual faculty development.

J. Administrators and/or school representatives must attend at least one headmasters’ meeting (November or March) each year, and are encouraged to attend workshops and take graduate courses.

K. Have curriculum guides which provide a detailed description of the curriculum of the school available for inspection by the visiting team.

L. A school must have a LONG RANGE PLAN. The Long Range Plan must include all of the following elements:

  1. A three to five year outlook for the school.
  2. A statement of the enrollment goals of the school.
  3. A statement of the budget and salary goals of the school.
  4. A plan and demonstration of consistency between the school’s Mission Statement and the Long Range Plan.
  5. A plan and demonstration of consistency between the school’s Curriculum and the Long Range Plan.
  6. Input from the broad school constituency concerning these listed items.

III. A school’s physical facilities must meet the applicable federal, state, and local safety, fire, and *health (*definition: including immunizations, School Employee Evaluation For Tuberculosis, and Blood borne Pathogens) regulations. In laboratories these regulations require that the laboratory include eye wash, safety shower, ventilation, gas and water cut-offs located inside the laboratory, two fire extinguishers, and safe storage for flammable substances. The grounds shall provide areas for physical education and recreation and the building shall be maintained to provide a safe, sanitary, and attractive environment for learning.

IV.
A. A school is normally accredited for three years. However, the visiting committee may recommend either of two one year periods of accreditation when it feels the circumstances warrant, including but not limited to, frequent faculty, administration, or trustee turnover and/or a sharp decline in student enrollment.

B. Provisional Accreditation is a one year accreditation of a school that is not currently accredited and meets many of the requirements but needs to improve in certain areas without undue delay. Though this will be most frequently used for schools never before accredited, it may be used for schools which have lost accreditation.

C. Probational Accreditation is a one year extension of a currently held full accreditation when the school does not merit a renewal of accreditation for the full three year term.

D. Effective July 1, 1995, the maximum length of time a school may hold provisional or probational accreditation shall be two years.

E. Each time a school is visited, the following accreditation charge will be required in advance: $450.00 for schools with enrollment of 400 or more; $350.00 for schools with less than 400 enrollment.  Advanced Accreditation fee is $900.00. A fee of $175 will be required if an additional on-site visit is required for the school to complete the accreditation requirements or to verify that any deficiencies have been satisfied.

F. The accreditation of any school may be temporarily suspended by the Accreditation Committee, after the Committee’s review, if it appears that the school may not be meeting all accreditation standards.

G. Initial Accreditation becomes effective at the Board meeting at which it is approved. Basic and Advanced accreditation become effective and expire on July 1.

LIBRARY STANDARDS

BOOKS – The library shall have a minimum of 2000 usable and acceptable books or an average of 10 books per student, whichever is greater.  These shall be books exclusive of government documents, multiple texts, and pamphlets.  The collection should be well-balanced and systematically selected for a wide coverage of subjects.  The elementary library should not contain more than two-thirds of its titles in fiction, and the high school should not contain more than one-third of its titles in fiction.

NOTE: Titles on CD Rom, computer software, or the internet may be substituted for hard bound books.

REFERENCE MATERIALS – Each school library shall provide a well-rounded collection of basic reference materials needed to satisfy curricular requirements and stimulate intellectual development of students.  The collection shall include a current encyclopedia set, an unabridged dictionary, a foreign language and geographical dictionary, a thesaurus, a current atlas and almanac, literary criticisms, and biographies.

MAGAZINES –Each school library shall provide an interesting and useful collection of current periodicals to accommodate needs
for current information and appeal to personal interests of students.

PROFESSIONAL MATERIALS –Each library shall provide a central collection of easily accessible professional materials for teachers to keep abreast of trends, developments, research, and techniques both in general and
specialized areas of education.

NEWSPAPERS – Each library shall provide a daily newspaper that provides coverage of local, state, and national news.

TECHNOLOGY – Each library shall provide internet access.  It is recommended that all students be exposed to automated library systems.

LIBRARIAN – A school shall have a teacher assigned to the library.  A secondary school shall have a teacher assigned who has library training through SCISA or through an approved mentor program.

FACILITIES – All schools shall provide a separate library or combination library-study hall equipped with tables, chairs, bookshelves, magazine rack, circulation desk and other equipment commensurate with the size of the school.