AEE Accreditation Council Meets at Eagle Rock

For the third time in as many years, the Association for Experiential Education’s (AEE) Accreditation Council recently held its mid-year meeting here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo. The association, which was founded in the summer of 1977 right here in Colorado, has become the leading accrediting body for organizations that utilize adventure-based experiential education.

AEE’s Accreditation Council – May 2019 (Image courtesy of Steve Pace)

AEE’s accreditation standards, which were first proposed in the early 1990s, are now expressed in six distinct areas:

  1. Philosophical, Educational, and Ethical Principles
  2. Program Governance
  3. Program Management, Operations, and Oversight
  4. Technical Activities – Land
  5. Technical Activities – Water
  6. Non-Technical Activities

Since February of 1995 — when the Accreditation Council awarded the organization’s first seals of approval to the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Project Adventure — AEE’s highly sought-after accreditation has become the standard by which all adventure-based programs are judged.

During the three-and-a-half-day meeting, which took place from May 31 to June 3 in our on-campus Professional Development Center, council members covered a number of topics, including: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Earns Continuing NCA CASI Accreditation

If you were in the market for a used vehicle, chances are you’d feel confident buying from a dealership that offered a “Certified Pre-Owned” program. Similarly, if you were looking to lease office space, buy a water heater, or take your loved one out to dinner to celebrate a special occasion, you’d be buoyed by a LEED-certified building, the Energy Star label, or a certain number of Michelin Stars.

Basic CMYK

Nearly every sector of society has a commonly accepted standard by which excellence is measured and attained. And in education, that standard is often tied to accreditation — the process in which certification of competency, standards, authority and/or credibility is presented.

Here at Eagle Rock, we’re accredited by a number of organizations, including AdvancED’s North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI). If you’re unfamiliar with AdvancED, it’s the largest non-profit, non-partisan community of education professionals in the world.

The organization’s NCA CASI branch provides nationally recognized accreditation to schools like ours with a focus on increasing student performance. To earn accreditation, schools must Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School Holds a Trio of Accreditations

Accreditations are a form of quality assurance — an endorsement of sorts that confirm, in our case, that the learning institution in question has met the standards necessary to be considered at or above industry agreed upon standards.

And here at Eagle Rock School, we have acquired three such educational accreditations, all of which combine to serve as a testament to our approach, add credence to our curriculum, and provide recognized approval to our approach to reengaging youth in their own education.

ACIS-Logo-SealTo begin with, Eagle Rock has receive accreditation from the Association of Colorado Independent Schools (ACIS), a nonprofit that serves the purpose of ensuring the improvement — on a continuous basis — of member schools. To do this, ACIS offers professional development, advocacy services and of course, accreditation. The Colorado association is closely tied to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).

AdvancED accreditation sealAnother nonprofit organization that has seen fit to accredit Eagle Rock’s educational program is AdvancED, a non-partisan organization that is known for its intense and on-campus review of schools from pre-kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. Its goal is to ensure that the schools it researches place a major emphasis on attaining the full potential of their students. AdvancED was created through a 2006 merger of the PreK-12 divisions of the Continue reading…

ACIS Accreditation: A commitment to continuous improvement

When I describe Eagle Rock School to folks who might be unfamiliar with our work, I often get a quizzical look and the question, “So do students get a high school diploma?

Frequently, because we adults choose to live in the past and therefore fall victim to our own experience with school, it’s difficult to understand Eagle Rock’s unique and innovative approach. Eagle Rock is not alone in the quest to engage young people creatively and deeply. There are many schools – public, private/independent, charter, etc., – who are doing innovative work, and we partner with many of these around the country.

So how then do people know whether any of these schools are legitimate? Who ensures they are meeting the latest professional standards? Who governs their behavior? Who verifies what occurs on their campuses is worthy of a high school diploma?


The answer varies from state to state but the consistent theme is that schools meet a set of standards laid out by an accrediting agency. And accrediting agencies can be governmental, or they can be private entities.

While accreditations differ from agency to agency, becoming accredited is typically a multi-faceted process that involves the following steps:

  1. Self Study: The program seeking accreditation – in this case, Eagle Rock School – conducts a self-study and reflects on how it is doing based on a set of standards from the accrediting agency. When complete, the self-study is submitted to the accrediting agency.
  2. Site Visit: The accrediting agency assembles an evaluation team of educators and school leaders who are familiar with its standards. The team spends an average of four days on campus conducting interviews, reading documents, observing classes and other school activities – all with an eye toward developing its own assessment of the school’s strengths and weaknesses. In particular, the team is looking for areas of congruence and incongruence with the school’s self study. Every accrediting agency has a set of standards and the team will also be looking for evidence of compliance with those standards.
  3. Evaluation Report and Accreditation Status: The accrediting agency generates a report based upon Continue reading…