School Accreditation

Dear Gateway Families and Friends,

Did you know that Gateway is an accredited independent school? In fact, we are the ONLY K-8 school in Santa Cruz accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS). We are also accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)!

So…what is accreditation, and what do we have to do?

“School accreditation is a peer-review process that fosters excellence in education and encourages school improvement through discovery, dialogue, compliance, and commitment. Accreditation enables a member school to develop clearly defined goals and objectives based on its mission and philosophy.” —CAIS

Accreditation is recognition of professional excellence, based on values of program quality, continuous growth, risk management, financial accountability, and other factors. Museums, banks, nonprofits, and many other types of organizations use accreditation for this purpose.

The process of accreditation begins with completing a self-study report. This will take about 11 months, and includes gathering lots of data, information, and documentation. Sometime in the winter of 2019-20, we will host a Visiting Committee for four days, which then produces a report it sends to the CAIS Board of Standards. CAIS will then confirm our accreditation status.

What are the benefits of this process?

There are so many benefits to going through the accreditation cycle, and they start with using the self-study to really think deeply about the school.

  • Teachers get to step away from classroom work and spend time reflecting on what our strengths and challenges are as a school.
  • Collaboration across faculty, staff, Board, students, families and alumni strengthens our community.
  • We get to create goals together and chart a path for continuous growth and change.

Being accredited also has many benefits.

  • Being an accredited CAIS school means that Gateway is committed to an environment of continuous, thoughtful improvement.
  • When universities, high schools, elementary schools, and even preschools get accredited, families can have greater trust in the institution.
  • We have access to professional development and teacher recruitment that other schools don’t have (or have to pay more to access).
  • We are part of a network of 250 independent schools in the state, and over 1700 schools nationally, that have a rich dialogue about independent school education.

When does this work happen?

Our self-study work began with training for faculty and staff in the fall. For the next 11 months, faculty and administrators will be working on our self-study. We used parts of last Friday’s in-service for accreditation, and we’ll be doing more during upcoming in-service days and during after school meetings.

The school was fully accredited for the first time in 1995, and completed re-accreditation in 2006 and 2013. This will be Gateway’s fourth time through the cycle.

Will families be involved?

In the coming months, there may be opportunities to be involved in this process as members of our larger community, such as focus groups, surveys, and other means.

As co-coordinators for this process, we are excited to do this important work with our extraordinary colleagues! If you have any questions about this process, please email us.


Kaia Husaby and Hannah Wikse

Accreditation Self-Study Co-Coordinators