The Process of Attaining AMS School Accreditation

Accreditation by the American Montessori Society is a rewarding, multi-year process that requires dedicated focus and input from the entire school community. To ensure that you have the needed resources, including time and energy—and so that you can fully appreciate the benefits—we recommend that you undergo accreditation during a time of relative school stability.

Components

The AMS school accreditation process has several distinct components:

  • Application
  • Application review and candidacy determination
  • Self-study and report
  • Onsite visit and report
  • Review by the AMS School Accreditation Commission and the AMS Board of Directors

The 2 components of the accreditation process that draw most heavily on the school’s time and effort are the self-study and the onsite visit.

The Self-Study

AMS accreditation begins with an intensive self-study that involves the school’s entire community: staff, faculty, administration, parents, board members (if applicable), and sometimes, even students. During the self-study, the school examines and documents every aspect of its program and processes: governance, curriculum, fiscal and personnel policies, facilities, health and safety practices, teacher preparation, and learner outcomes. The school self-identifies areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. The school collects its findings in a written report and submits it to AMS.

Many candidates for AMS school accreditation find the self-study one of the most valuable parts of the process. Not only is it a period of thoughtful examination, discovery, and, oftentimes, enlightening mindset shifts, it helps strengthen the community as one whose stakeholders are united by shared values, aspirations, and commitments.

The Onsite Visit

At the end of the self-study period, the school hosts a team of peers from other AMS-accredited schools for an onsite visit. A major objective of the visit is to determine whether the school seeking accreditation is in compliance with AMS Standards & Criteria. The visit includes document review, observations, and interviews. The culmination of the onsite visit is a report, prepared by the team, in which they summarize their findings for review by the AMS School Accreditation Commission and AMS Board of Directors.

The onsite visit offers an invaluable opportunity to gain insight from other well-regarded leaders in the community. Typically, it is seen as a joyous affirmation of the many wonderful things the school is doing well and a helpful guide for future improvements.

Want to know more about the Initial Accreditation process?

A Teacher's Perspective

Melanie Thiesse

AMS Director of School Accreditation

Accrediting your school with AMS validates your commitment to delivering high-quality Montessori education and provides you with a partnership with the world’s leading Montessori organization. We are here to support your school through the accreditation process and beyond by providing the resources, professional development, advocacy, and personal service you need to ensure that you are meeting your goals.

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Fees

Along with school membership dues, schools seeking AMS accreditation (or reaccreditation) are responsible for:

  • An application fee: $750 (plus $650 for each satellite site)
  • A fee for review of the self-study: $240
  • Reimbursement costs of hosting the onsite visiting team (travel, meals, and lodging). This cost varies widely depending on the size of the program. We typically send 1 team chair, 1 representative per each 50 of the school’s students, and at least 1 representative who holds a Montessori teaching credential for each level served by the school.
  • An annual report fee: $210 (due once per year with membership dues after achieving accreditation) Note: AMS-accredited schools receive up to 20% off their annual membership dues, which typically more than offsets the annual report fee.

Many schools amortize the fees associated with the accreditation process over the 7 years that the accreditation remains in effect.

Reaccreditation

Once granted, AMS accreditation typically lasts 7 years. (If a school underwent a cooperative accreditation with AMS and another accrediting agency, its accreditation term may be shorter or longer depending on the other agency’s accreditation term.) We recommend that a school start the reaccreditation process 18 – 24 months before its accreditation expiration date. This will enable the school to begin its self-study no less than 12 months before the expiration date.  The same fees apply as for initial accreditation.

Want to learn more about the Reaccreditation process?