AMS School Accreditation
Accreditation is a service provided to full-member schools by the American Montessori Society. It is a voluntary process that takes 1 to 2 years to complete.
Accreditation begins with an intensive self-study, by the school, involving the school’s entire community—students, staff, faculty, administration, board members, and parents.
During the application process, every aspect of the school is examined and documented, including governance, curriculum, fiscal and personnel policies, facilities, health and safety practices, teacher preparation, and learner outcomes.
At the end of the self-study period, a thorough onsite peer review is conducted. In addition to determining whether the school meets AMS standards, the review team evaluates the school to see how well it is achieving its own mission and goals—whether the school is what it says it is and does what it says it does.
After identifying both strengths and areas to strengthen, the school commits to a strategic plan for improvement which incorporates the recommendations of its peer review team.
All AMS accredited schools must maintain compliance with school accreditation standards and work toward continuous improvement. Each accredited school submits a yearly report outlining progress toward the objectives in its strategic plan.
We encourage schools interested in accreditation to watch our School Accreditation 101 webcast. The webcast covers the basics of AMS accreditation.
“School Accreditation 101”
Presenter: Sara Wilson
If you are contemplating AMS accreditation for your Montessori school, or if you are just beginning the process, participation in AMS’s School Accreditation 101 will provide you with vital information about protocol, goals, and more. This webcast is free if you have purchased the School Accreditation Information Packet.
The self-study at the heart of accreditation leads to discoveries that empower the entire school community.
Accreditation encourages continual self-evaluation and improvement, including ongoing professional development.
Added visibility in our Find a School search.
AMS accreditation affirms that a school meets a standard of excellence recognized by educators and Montessorians worldwide—a powerful marketing asset.
AMS accreditation is voluntary, but we encourage all member schools to make it a goal. To be eligible as a candidate for AMS accreditation, a school must meet all of the following requirements at the time of application:
- A school must at least be in its third year of operation or more.
- A school must be an AMS Full Level Member.
- Schools that mix Montessori and non-Montessori programs may apply for accreditation of the Montessori portion of their school. In this case, the school must include the youngest Montessori program level, and any further accredited levels must be contiguous. For example, a school that offers Montessori from Infant & Toddler – Elementary must apply for accreditation at the Infant & Toddler and Early Childhood levels in order to eligible to be accredited at the Elementary level(s).
- Age groupings must be as follows for all program levels seeking accreditation:
- Infant & Toddler: Children from birth to 3 years of age may be grouped in varying multi-age configurations. A stand-alone classroom serving only 3-year olds does not satisfy this Criterion.
- Early Childhood: a 3-year age group within the range of 2.5 years to 6 years
- Lower Elementary: 6 years to 9 years
- Upper Elementary: 9 years to 12 years
- or Elementary I-II: ages 6 years to 12 years
- Secondary: the school must offer an age grouping of either 12 – 14, 14 – 16, 16 – 18 years of age or 12 – 15, 15 – 18 years of age
- Schools with Infant & Toddler and Early Childhood levels have many ways of meeting the needs of the children and families they serve. A minimum of a half-day session for Infant & Toddler and Early Childhood must be taught by a qualifying Montessori credentialed teacher.
- All lead teachers must qualify with the minimum number of points required in the Teacher Requirements Verification Forms (in the application for school accreditation) and must hold a Montessori teaching credential for the age level taught. Teaching credentials must be from an AMS-affiliated program, an AMI-accredited program, an NCME program, or a MACTE-accredited program. Certificates of Attendance from any Montessori teacher education program do not qualify as equivalent to a Montessori Credential.
- It is considered optimal for accredited schools and candidates for AMS accreditation to employ lead teachers in every classroom who hold recognized Montessori credentials for the level at which they teach. Lead teachers who do not hold the requisite Montessori credential are required to be enrolled in an AMS, AMI, or MACTE-accredited Montessori Teacher Education Program and to be actively working toward earning a Montessori credential for the level at which they teach. Each adult learner’s enrollment in a Montessori Teacher Education Program will be verified by the AMS office.
Self-directed adult learners may serve in lead teaching positions in AMS accredited schools and candidate schools. A self-directed practicum is one in which the adult learner has full responsibility for the Montessori class without the daily guidance of a qualified supervising teacher in the classroom. A minimum of three on-site consultation/evaluation visits by a qualified field consultant plus additional support that is documented on the AMS Practicum Site Report is required for self-directed adult learners. Additional support might include extra visits, a local mentor teacher, monthly phone or e-mail contact, or other support designed by the director of the teacher education program.
- The school must be at minimum 80% in compliance with the AMS Standards. The school must be 100% in compliance with the AMS Standards before it submits its self-study report to the AMS Office of School Accreditation.
For details about AMS accreditation, click to download the following documents:
Other Accrediting Organizations
Various regional and national accrediting agencies accredit Montessori as well as other schools. Some AMS member schools choose to accredit with more than one agency to demonstrate compliance with school standards that also apply to non-Montessori schools.
Some changes that a school experiences are relatively minor. Others can be substantive, affecting major aspects of the school. If your school is AMS-accredited and is experiencing any of the substantive changes below, we ask that you notify us by completing and sending us the appropriate form (click on the links). We also ask that you detail the change(s) in your next Accredited School Annual Report.
AMS accreditation staff will review your report of substantive change and determine if the change warrants review by the AMS School Accreditation Commission. Some substantive changes may require a 1-day onsite visit; in these cases, your school would be held responsible for any expenses incurred.
We recognize that change is a necessary part of school growth and understand that changes affecting major aspects of a school can make for challenging times.