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…

Update From the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center

If our recent level of activity is any indication, Tolstoy was right… Spring is the time of plans and projects. And while the first day of spring is still 30 days away, as you’ll see, we’ve been hard at work tilling the soil, so to speak, so that the seeds we plant these next few months will bear significant bounty along the education landscape for quite some time to come.

To start things off, we recently played host to Xylem Larla Day, a graduate student in education from Cal State-Chino, who visited our Estes Park, Colo., campus to research teaching and assessment methods. In addition to pursuing a Masters degree in Education, Curriculum & Instruction, Xylem is in the midst of starting Earth Arts Academy – a community-oriented movement that aims to open an environmental high school in Nevada City, Calif., by fall 2016.


Next up, our staff recently collaborated with IDEA (The Institute for Democratic Education in America) to design a tour in New York City for a group of 30 educators, youths, parents and community leaders from South Burlington, Vermont. Lead by former Eagle Rock Math Instructional Specialist, Jason Cushner – who now works with Big Picture South Burlington, a school-within-a-school at South Burlington High School – the group from Vermont was in search of tips, insights, strategies and tactics that may help in their efforts to shift their approach to graduating students from a seat-time requirements basis to a more proficiency-based system. Once the tour began, our role was to facilitate key reflection meetings and debrief the learning from the visits so that immediate action could occur back home in Vermont. And to help support the effort even further, a group from Eagle Rock will travel to South Burlington in mid-March to follow up with the Vermonters (more info on that trip appears below).

Moving on, upcoming visits we’re looking forward to hosting here at Eagle Rock under the auspices of the Professional Development Center (PDC) include:

  • A staff member from Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning (Washington, Heights, NY) will be visiting with our PDC staff as he explores ways to start up his own Expeditionary Learning School (i.e., a school that inspires the motivation to learn and transform urban, rural, and suburban education by empowering students and adults to become leaders of their own learning).
  • Staff from Holy Heart of Mary High School in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, will be on campus this spring to learn how Eagle Rock works with ‘opportunity youth’ (i.e., young people who are both out of school and not working).
  • Staff from the Donnell-Kay Foundation will also be visiting Eagle Rock soon to learn about work with ‘opportunity youth.’ The foundation, which is committed to reforming and improving public education in Colorado through research, creative dialogue and critical thinking, is based down the road in Denver.
  • Staff from the Los Angeles Small Schools Center in California – a Coalition of Essential Schools member since 2006 – will be paying us a visit to learn about how they can support us in our work with the Los Angeles Unified School District.
  • Staff from North Carolina’s Voyager Academy return to Eagle Rock this spring to work on strengthening their internal professional development systems that are aimed at supporting their project-based learning high school.