Dar Al Fikr Accreditation Preparation

Introduction: What makes a good school?

The quality of a school goes beyond its name, location, or reputation. An education institution succeeds when it supports every learner every day, offering opportunities for every learner to reach further. One hallmark of a good school is that it continually strives for improvement. Like the member institutions we serve, Cognia™ works to innovate and improve. In spring 2021, we completed a research and development cycle that takes place every five years, examining and updating the Cognia Performance Standards to acknowledge changes and set expectations for quality education institutions in a new era. Based on current research in education, input from practitioners, and multiple expert reviews, this cyclical development process assures that the standards at the foundation of our improvement and accreditation strategies continue to be viable, feasible, and relevant to educators in today’s world.

One set of standards

If you’re familiar with the previous Cognia standards for different institution types, you’ll notice a significant change: One set of standards now applies to all K–12 and postsecondary institution types, including systems of institutions. All education institutions share a fundamental common goal: to inspire and equip learners so that they succeed to their highest potential. The new, research-based standards acknowledge that commonality. They are appropriate for all institutions, placing emphasis on quality and effective practices that benefit all learners in any K–12 or postsecondary non-degree granting setting. The details relevant to different types of institutions will be addressed in Assurances and in other Cognia Accreditation resources that will be available to members. (Early Learning and Extended Learning institutions continue to have dedicated standards.)

New Concepts

Every iteration of Cognia’s Performance Standards builds on the prior version to support ongoing improvement. Many of the themes of the previous standards are reflected in the new standards. The 2022 standards also include several significant new concepts to guide institutions forward, including:
  • LEARNER-CENTERED: Cognia’s new standards focus on the learner, describing the impact on the learning journey of processes and practices, which reflect the performance of the institution. Further, the standards emphasize student voice and agency.
  • DEMONSTRATION OF EQUITY: These standards emphasize the expectation of equity for every learner across all aspects of the institution. Equity is expressed in the institution’s culture and in a curriculum that values the diversity of individuals, families, cultures, and more.
  • LEARNER WELL-BEING: Learning depends on more than skilled instruction. Institutions must address multiple aspects of learners’ circumstances and environment so that every learner can grow

Quality characteristics

Four key characteristics are evident when institutions effectively adopt the Cognia Performance Standards and engage in Cognia’s peer review process for accreditation and continuous improvement.
  • CULTURE OF LEARNING: the institution’s focus on the challenges, joys, and opportunities for learning, and the coherence with its mission and vision
  • LEADERSHIP FOR LEARNING: the responsibility of an institution’s leaders to influence and impact all aspects of the institution in positive ways.
  • ENGAGEMENT OF LEARNING: the inclusion of all learners in the learning process, and their development of confidence and love of learning
  • GROWTH IN LEARNING: the growth of learners in the programs and curricula provided by the institution and their readiness to successfully transition to next levels of learning These characteristics serve as our model for identifying and discussing school and system quality. Additional information will be available to members to show how the standards align with these characteristics.