One of the great strengths of the schools within The Lutheran Schools Partnership is their desire to use all the gifts the Lord has given them in order to excel at what they do. One mark of excellence is accreditation. While there are multiple systems of accreditation, and some of our schools use more than one, the benchmark for excellence as a Lutheran school is National Lutheran Schools Accreditation, or NLSA.
National Lutheran Schools Accreditation is an evidence-based accreditation process in which schools must submit numerous evidences in seven domains: Purpose, Relationships, Leadership, Professional Personnel, Teaching and Learning, Student Services, and Facilities. Schools undertake an extensive self-study of these areas, and then an accreditation team visits the school to review the evidence, do classroom observations, and meet with school constituents. Schools are then applauded for their strengths, affirmed in the areas of growth they have self-identified, and given additional feedback to support and strengthen their ministry. The Indiana State Board of Education recognizes NLSA as an approved third-party accreditation. Details on NLSA and its processes can be found on its website.
One of the goals of The Lutheran Schools Partnership is to support our schools in their work toward National Lutheran Schools Accreditation. As the Academic Excellence Coordinator for our schools, my role is to provide particular focus on Section 5: Teaching and Learning. The heading for Section 5 says, “The school’s curriculum, instructional design, and assessment practices guide and ensure teacher effectiveness and student learning.” In my next several articles, I will share more about what this looks like in the schools of TLSP.
The first required indicator of Section 5 is, “The teaching of the Christian faith is recognized as the major purpose of the school, is allotted appropriate time in the daily schedule, and is integrated intentionally throughout the curriculum and instruction.” This indicator is one of the primary things that sets NLSA apart from other accreditation systems, and is rightly placed first on the list. It affirms that a major purpose of our schools is to teach the faith. Teachers in our schools are trained to teach the faith across the curriculum, in all subject areas. One of our goals as an organization is to support ongoing training in the area of teaching the faith. When TLSP teachers come together for professional development, we worship together, pray together, and collaborate on ways in which we can point students to Jesus. We strive to choose speakers and leaders who exemplify what it is to teach the faith. For our upcoming Learn and Lead professional development in June of 2020, one of our keynote speakers will be Dr. Kim Marxhausen, an LCMS educator who will help us focus on our teaching the faith. You can learn more about Dr. Marxhausen here.
On the topic of teaching the faith, this quote from Martin Luther seems as timely today as ever, “I am much afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount.” As the policies of so many organizations, including some public school systems, no longer align to Scripture, what a blessing it is to know that our Lutheran schools are intentionally teaching the true faith.