In addition to our usual busy days of activities at Sacred Heart, our faculty, staff, parents, and students were deeply engaged last year in the reaccreditation process that all New England independent schools undergo once every decade.
Conducted under the auspices of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the process requires a full year of self-study, research, and report writing, culminating with a visit by an evaluation team (the Visiting Committee) made up of representatives from NEASC peer schools.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, internal committees made of faculty and staff, and parents researched and wrote the reports required to respond to the standards used for the evaluation. The 46,000 word self-study, which involved the entire community in structured analysis, self-reflection, and planning, was submitted to the Visiting Committee in July 2018. After their three-day visit to campus in October, 2018, the committee submitted their report to NEASC.
The short version of the results: We passed our accreditation review with flying colors! — and were granted our ten-year reaccreditation in November of 2018.
In a letter to President Sr. Sheila O’Neill, ASCJ, Ph.D., ’71 and Principal Sr. Kathleen Mary Coonan, ASCJ, ’76 the Commission stated, “Both the Visiting Committee and the Commission found Sacred Heart Academy to be a truly outstanding school. The Committee was impressed by every aspect of the Academy and raised several of the school’s own Assessments on Standards as they observed that the school was very strong in many areas—while also humble about their own achievements. The Visiting Committee felt the Academy’s mission was visible and vital in every aspect of the program and that the school is notably focused on its students. The school community truly is a family in the best sense of the term and this warmth, spirit of care, and camaraderie is genuinely living spirit.”
Sacred Heart was applauded for the school’s capacity for self-reflection and insight about its programs, and about its next steps and stated how truly impressed the Visiting Committee was with the quality of education and the spirit of personal integrity at Sacred Heart Academy.
The Visiting Committee report identified many areas for commendation, particularly the following:
- The mission of family and community and for the deep faith manifest in the mission;
- Evidence of school spirit;
- The immaculate facilities that give testament to the school’s care for everything that serves its students;
- The deep traditions that define much of the students’ personal and collective experience;
- The uniquely understated acceptance of the exceptional. In an era when public statements of personal value seem paramount, Sacred Heart values quiet but substantial self-realization and unsung care for others – in its students and in the institution of the Academy.
Major recommendations include the following:
- Continue to implement consistent, long-term faculty training in relation to diversity, inclusion, and fairness within the community;
- Continue to clarify useful data and methods for its collection and use when planning or making decisions about enrollment, finances, and marketing;
- Continue to develop coherent curriculum plans that emphasize, where appropriate, assessments of student knowledge, skills, and mastery.
“We were thrilled with the committee’s report and, having taking full advantage of the accreditation process thus far, we plan to move quickly to organize the implementation of recommendations from the self-study, the Visiting Committee, and the Commission,” said Sr. Sheila.