International School Saigon Pearl (ISSP) is fully accredited by two of the most prestigious international accreditation agencies in the world: the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), effective since July 2018.

In a process that has taken 18 months, this is a moment to celebrate a significant milestone in ISSP’s story of being Vietnam’s leading international school for Elementary and Early Years.

Ray Davis, Director of School Support & Evaluation from CIS commented in the awarding report “[ISSP provides] a positive school climate with high quality relationships and genuine interest in the view of all stake holders.”

ISSP has infused its programs and offerings with international and intercultural perspective so students can move forward with the attitudes and understanding that will provide them with a solid base wherever their studies or work may take them in their futures. ISSP commits to undertaking an ongoing external quality assurance processes to enhance student learning. Being accredited by CIS means that ISSP is comparable with many international schools that are accredited throughout the world.

Why Become Accredited?

For three years prior to commencing the self-study accreditation process, ISSP was a member of both CIS and NEASC. The Leadership team at ISSP believed as the school grew; it was the natural progression in establishing itself as a key contributor amongst much larger and established international schools in the city. “It’s a demonstration of our commitment to all areas of school life in delivering a high quality international education,” explains Mr. Lester Stephens, Head of School at ISSP. “It is not our ambition to be the biggest international school in terms of student numbers. We embrace our neighborhood-feel, purpose-built campus and respect its capacity. We do, however, want to provide the best international education that is available in HCMC.”

The accreditation process works in cycles of five years. It is a model of continuous improvement and development so that schools remain honest to their objectives and stakeholders.

Dr. Alegria Lores, Visiting Co-Chair of NEASC commended ISSP for “… making significant improvements in the organizational structure, the building infrastructure, and the academic programs of the school…”

This is in part credit to ISSP’s extensive campus renovation plans over the next few years of its learning spaces. The catalyst of which was to provide suitable environments that support the continued investment in modern approaches to teaching and learning.

What is the difference between Member and Accredited status?
A school must obtain Member status prior to applying for Accreditation. There are several services that members are permitted to access such as Career and Recruitment resources, a profile on the agency Membership Directory and access to the membership network. “In addition to becoming a Member, the accreditation process is voluntary. We made the conscious decision to open our doors to CIS and NEASC to evaluate all aspects of the school,” states Mrs. Rae Lang, Deputy Head of School and appointed Accreditation Chair for ISSP. Accreditation not only focusses on the curriculum and the teaching, but also on the way the school is organized. The process is thorough and accreditation status is awarded to schools that meet international standards in key areas such as Curriculum, Governance and Management, Student Support Services and more. Dr. Patricia Mertin, Visiting Chair of the CIS team commented “[ISSP is] ensuring high-quality resources and facilities are provided at all levels of the school to enable student learning in a modern and student- friendly environment”.

To conclude the process, CIS and NEASC arrange a visiting team consisting of educational professionals to evaluate the candidate school’s self-study report. CIS considers the peer evaluation model “a hallmark” of the accreditation philosophy and “a diverse [visiting] team enriches the accreditation process through the sharing of knowledge and effective practices…”

Why CIS and NEASC?

Both organizations are independent nonprofit agencies that are well respected throughout the global education community. There are over 500 schools worldwide that are awarded accreditation by CIS. Whilst NEASC is a globally recognized standard of excellence from North America with accredited schools in over 65 countries. NEASC Accreditation attests to a school’s high quality and integrity.

The two agencies complement each other and are renowned for rigorous evaluation against internationally agreed standards through a blend of support and challenge focused on a school’s development. Using a peer-based model that brings together international educators from across the world of CIS- accredited schools.

There was also a strategic reason CIS and NEASC were chosen for families that attend ISSP. For parents this accreditation is a major advantage since it will enable students to move from one international school to another should they relocate to another country or their home nation as accreditation is an assurance a certain standard that is upheld.