New IMC Seal of Recognition Program Enters Pilot Phase
Introducing The Seal of Recognition Program
The purpose of the International Montessori Council Seal of Recognition Program (SOR) is to offer schools a reasonably simple and less expensive method of providing prospective parents and the general public with assurance that they offer educational programs that are consistent with the essential characteristics of Montessori best practice.
The Seal of Recognition Program is not as comprehensive as full IMC School Accreditation, but rather a more limited recognition that a school meets specific standards associated with best practice in Montessori education. The Seal of Recognition can also be used as a stepping stone towards the fuller IMC Accreditation program.
The Seal of Recognition Program has a shorter period of self-study and a less intensive one day onsite visit by validators.
Although most schools try to remain faithful to their understanding of Dr. Montessori’s insights and research, they have been influenced by the evolution of the culture in which they live. Despite the impression held by many parents that the name Montessori refers to a universally held and practiced educational method and philosophy, the name Montessori is
not protected by copyright, nor is there one central body with the power to authorize a schools’ use of the name.
Within the Montessori movement, there is considerable discussion and debate about what is, and what is not Montessori ‘best practice’. Around the world we find Montessori schools that differ dramatically from one another in terms of practice and philosophy. Some of the elements of practice over which Montessori educators have differed have been minor, however in more recent decades these variations have increased. At the same time, the internet has made it simple for parents to glean reliable information about what Montessori is supposed to look like. Every year the number of parents who contact the Montessori Foundation about the inconsistencies between theory and practice in their children’s schools has grown.
As a result, many Montessori educators are concerned about these differing interpretations of Montessori. Today this issue has become a question of truth in advertising. We believe that the Montessori community needs to articulate essential criteria of best practice in Montessori education.
While Montessori may have come to mean different things to different people, underlying its many faces are essential elements of Montessori best practices. These core principles have resulted in a model which is highly effective, replicable, adaptable to different settings, and sustainable. These characteristics led to its world-wide dissemination and caused it to stand the test of time.
The IMC attempts to walk a razor's edge by encouraging ongoing dialogue among Montessori educators who come from many different perspectives, while at the same time attempting to define and promote the legacy of essential Montessori principles and best practice.
This new program is designed to grant an IMC Seal of Recognition to Montessori schools which offer excellent Montessori programs but cannot afford the time and expense of completing full IMC school/centre accreditation. It provides a means by which excellent Montessori schools can be officially recognized at reasonable cost by focusing only on those aspects that are essential to Montessori best practice.
Purpose of the IMC Seal of Recognition Program
The primary purpose of the International Montessori Council Seal of Recognition program is to educate the administrators and trustees of Montessori schools in the ‘best practices’ basic to the development and leadership of educational programs that, by policy and design, represent best practices of authentic Montessori education.
Schools that consistently provide an authentic Montessori program tend to be both effective in their work with children and are worthy of public confidence and trust. The ‘best practices’ considered in the Seal of Recognition program place focus on the administration of the quality and integrity of the school/center's educational program. In contrast, the IMC
school accreditation program looks at all aspects of a school/centre.
The standards considered in the Seal of Recognition program establish guidelines for policies, procedures and practices. The school is responsible for ongoing implementation of those policies which are consistent with ‘best practices’.
A second purpose of the IMC Seal of Recognition and IMC School Accreditation Program is to provide the public with information which will assist in the selection of schools that meet recognized standards of excellence in Montessori educational practice.
This document can also be used by schools as a tool in establishing authentic practice. This may be useful when in comes to dealing with their own bureaucracies.
Schools that are awarded the Seal of Recognition are responsible for compliance with their national, state/provincial and local laws, in addition to those requirements defined by the standards. These include:
- Educational Program, including characteristics of authentic Montessori programs, group size, student-teacher ratios, and curriculum
- Human Resources, including qualifications, screening, training and supervision of school/centre faculty and staff.
While the Seal of Recognition program’s standards focus on educational practices, the IMC Seal of Recognition is not a guarantee that the individual student will meet specific educational objectives, nor can it guarantee that no injury or harm will occur.
IMC Recognition does, however, indicate to the public that the school has voluntarily invited its practices to be compared with the standards of ‘best practice’ established by leaders in the international Montessori school leadership community. At least once every five years, IMC validators/s will spend a day at the school to verify compliance with the standards.
Unlike inspections by governmental licensing bodies, the IMC Seal of Recognition program is voluntary. The IMC does not have the authority to close or otherwise penalize a school not meeting its recognition criteria, except for the removal of the Seal of Recognition status.
Licensing focuses on the enforcement of minimum standards. The Seal of Recognition focuses on the documentation and onsite verification of a school’s operation using criteria and standards for its Montessori educational programs that will normally not be covered by governmental regulation.
International Montessori Council Seal of Recognition standards identify practices considered essential to the creation and leadership of a stable ongoing Montessori program that will be both authentic and effective. However, they do not require all Montessori schools to look alike. The IMC Seal of Recognition program has been designed to serve a broad range of schools: schools that are private/independent and those that are public/state sponsored; schools that are large and small; schools that are proprietary and those that are run as not for profit organizations; those that offer elementary/primary and/or secondary/adolescent programs, those that serve primarily early childhood students including all day (long day) care centers. Each school addresses, in its own way, the principles of ‘best practice’
identified by the standards.
The IMC Seal of Recognition program is designed to allow for the tremendous diversity among Montessori schools around the world. It is quite different from an ‘approval’ model of accreditation, where accreditation as a recognized member of a particular Montessori organization requires a school to follow that association’s one specific set of guidelines for teacher qualifications, curricula, etc. The International Montessori Council understands and respects the integrity of that approach, however, the IMC Seal of Recognition program is based on a different perspective, while still maintaining a sound pedagogical philosophy.
The International Montessori Council Seal of Recognition program is based on the principle that to hold an IMC Seal of Recognition, a Montessori school must be ‘worthy of public trust’ and follows the ‘best practices’ of an authentic Montessori school.
Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambush and Dr. John Stoops in their work The Authentic Montessori School (1992 Middle States Association and American Montessori Society) identified six basic areas that have served for some time as a basic definition of those essential characteristics. The International Montessori Council Seal of Recognition Program incorporates the essence of those principles. We believe that they allow for tremendous diversity, while speaking to the central issue of what one should expect to find in a responsible school that wishes to represent itself as offering a Montessori program.
The Self-Study Process
The IMC Seal of Recognition self-study process consists of three integrated phases.
Phase 1: The school clearly defines its institutional identity.
These include its Montessori principles, enduring values and beliefs, and educational outcomes.
Phase 2: The School initiates the Seal of Recognition Program Self-Study.
This document establishes how the school meets the principles of Montessori Educational Best Practice established by the International Montessori Council. The self-study process follows an easily understood, objective self-study approach. Each standard within the seven Quality Areas is carefully laid out with examples and suggested resources. The Self-study Handbook gives further indicators and rating scales. As members, schools will have access to sample policies, handbooks, and other online resources that can be adapted for individual situations.
Phase 3: The School develops a written Education Program Development Plan.
This document explains the schools ongoing plan for continuing improvement to move its educational program closer to its ideal as set forth in its educational philosophy. For schools that are not or only partially meeting standards, this document would include a detailed plan of how it would bring itself into compliance within three years with any standards that were not satisfactorily met at the time of the onsite visit.
Quality indicators which define quality are provided for satisfactory, good quality and high quality standards of practice in the self study report handbook. The indicators should be seen as indicative, but not as an exhaustive list. While the standard required for the Seal of Recognition is the same for all schools, no two schools will meet these standards in exactly the same way. Strategies which affect one school may not be effective in the same school the following year, nor will they necessarily be effective in another school of similar size and location. The Seal of Recognition provides scope for each individual school to establish strategies which best meet the standards in the context of its individual circumstances.
Each school’s Seal of Recognition Self-Study committee will be asked to rate each standard from a possible range of five standards: Does not apply, unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good quality and high quality. All standards must meet a satisfactory level, some standards offer the opportunity to achieve a good or high quality.
Full details of the quality areas are in the Self-study Handbook.
Pilot Phase Opens This September
The IMC board has authorized us to accept applications from an initial pilot group of schools. Member schools have expressed interest in participating from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China and South Africa.
IMC Seal of Recognition fees.
- All IMC membership dues must be paid in full prior to beginning the program.
- $5 USD per enrolled student as of the first day of the present school year Minimum $100 US, maximum $500 USD, for each site.
- Recognition - Continuing Application Fee if the self-study and onsite process is not completed in one year: $100 US, for each site.
- After Recognition has been granted, the annual fee for Recognised schools in $100 US per site, in addition to the school’s annual IMC dues. Recognised schools must maintain their membership in the International Montessori Council.
Eligibility for IMC Seal of Recognition
To be eligible to apply for candidacy for the International Montessori Council Seal of Recognition schools must:
- Be a current member of the International Montessori Council. Pay appropriate dues and fees as determined by the International Montessori Council for SOR program.
- Have been in operation as a Montessori school for at least three years.
- Deliver a Montessori educational program consistent with the International Montessori Council’s definition of school and the characteristics of an authentic Montessori school.
- Submit an initial application and an annual Statement of Compliance with applicable mandatory standards and other criteria for validation.
- Submit self-study report and supporting documentation to prove that it is in compliance (satisfactory or above i.e. all starred pointers). If a school is unable to meet a standard at ‘satisfactory’ level they will be scored as ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘does not apply’ and will need to state a case as to why they feel they should be exempt. In this situation the Accreditation Commission may at their discretion accept the reason providing that no less than 85% of all the Seal of Recognition standards have passed. This deviation will be noted on their certificate.
- Be visited by an International Montessori Council school on-site validators/s during a period when the school is in full operation (depending on the size of the school and facilities to be visited).
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 2010 05:44)