Leading and Facilitating the
School QAR Team Work Sessions:
A Chair's Guide
This Guide is designed to assist AdvancED School Accreditation Team Chairs with
leading and facilitating the team work sessions that occur throughout the School
Accreditation Quality Assurance Review (QAR) visit. For each work session, the
Guide provides a sample agenda, a list of materials needed, objectives, and a detailed
description of each agenda item.
The Guide is intended to be used in conjunction with the “Before, During, and After
the Visit Checklist” and accompanying resources which can be found on the Team
Chair website at www.advanc-ed.org/teamchairs.
Table of Contents
Team Orientation 3
Team Work Sessions 6
Final Work Session and Deliberations 8
Team Orientation Session
Sample Order of Agenda Materials Needed:
Welcome and Introductions
Ground Rules & Expectations
□ Screen and LCD projector
Orientation Video □ QAR Team Orientation Video (accessible
Overview of and Preparation for Team via Intranet) or Orientation PPT if not
Review of Self Assessment □ AdvancED Code of Ethics, Conflict of
Adjourn Interest Policy, and Statement Forms
Allow approximately 90 minutes for the team orientation □ Name tags
□ Visit Schedule
□ Team Assignment Sheet
• To set the tone and expectations for the Quality □ School Self Assessment
Assurance Review □ Guidebook for School Accreditation QAR
• To provide an overview of the Quality Assurance Review Review Teams (team members should bring
process and the roles and expectations of the team their copies)
• To explain assignments and prepare for Day 1
□ Copies of the Classroom Visit Tool
(enough for each team member to visit
Welcome and Introductions
Welcome team members. Thank them for agreeing to serve on the team. Introduce yourself. Ask
each member of the team to introduce him/herself. Team members should share what state they
are from and provide a brief overview of their professional experiences/background. You may wish
to engage in a brief ice breaker activity to assist with the team getting to know one another.
Ground Rules and Expectations
Take a few minutes to set basic ground rules. Be sure to include the importance of team members
being on time to all events to ensure that the visit stays on schedule. Emphasize that while they
serve on the team, they represent NCA CASI, SACS CASI, and AdvancED. They speak as
members of the QAR team, not as individuals representing their district, school, or other
organization. Stress the importance of maintaining an objective, professional approach and being
courteous and respectful to all school stakeholders. Discuss the importance to maintaining the
integrity of the process by keeping the findings and discussions of the team confidential.
Summarize the main points in the AdvancED Code of Ethics and AdvancED Conflict of Interest
Policy. Ask each member of the team to read and sign the AdvancED Code of Ethics and Conflict
of Interest Statement. Submit these to the state office following the review.
Present the Quality Assurance Review Team Orientation PowerPoint (PPT). It has many helpful
slides that detail the role and activities of the team. The PPT is available at www.advanc-
ed.org/teamchairs. Be sure to allow time for questions.
Review of Guidebook for AdvancED School Accreditation QAR Teams
Ask team members to open their Guidebook to the “Table of Contents.” Provide a brief overview
of and orientation to the Guidebook, emphasizing the various resources that can be found in the
book. Focus specifically on the “Standards Review Tool” located near the end of the book.
Explain that the tool is designed for them to use throughout the visit. It serves as a helpful note-
taking tool and will prepare team members to complete their standard narratives on the final day of
You may wish to refer team members to the appendix of their Guidebook for AdvancED School
Accreditation QAR Teams which contains guidance to teams visiting schools/districts that are
struggling to meet state accountability requirements, including Adequate Yearly Progress. This is an
appropriate time to discuss state accountability/accreditation ratings, report cards, and AYP and the
school’s status on those ratings. As the chair, be sure to emphasize for the team that state ratings
and AYP results are pieces of data that are used in conjunction with all the data gathered over the
course of the visit to assemble evidence regarding the school’s adherence to the AdvancED
Overview of and Preparation for Team Assignments
Review the Visit Schedule and Team Assignment Sheet with the team. Make sure team members
understand their roles and assignments. Emphasize that even though team members are assigned to
a particular standard(s), they are responsible for collecting data on all of the standards.
Artifact Review. Ask team members to open their Guidebook for AdvancED School Accreditation
Quality Assurance Review Teams to the section on “Artifact Review.” Discuss with them the task of
artifact review, the essential artifacts that each team member should make a point to review during
the course of the visit, and the guiding questions that they can use to assist them as they review the
Interviews. Review the “Interviews” section of the Guidebook. Explain how to organize for the
interviews and assign roles for each interview. Review the sample interview questions, showing how
each question is guided toward a specific standard and how the listen and probe fors are connected
to the impact statements and standard indicators. Emphasize that the “listen and probe fors” are
provided to help team members connect what they are hearing to the standards. Team members
should not attempt to ask all the questions in the “listen and probe for” section. Explain that team
members do not need to move through the sample questions in a sequential order. As the
interviews are conducted, team members may find that starting with questions near the end or
middle of the sample list will yield greater focus and new content. Team members may find that as
they interview more people, it is more appropriate to ask a probing question as opposed to a more
general question. Emphasize that the key is to move to new and more probing questions once the
team feels it is starting to hear the same information from multiple sources.
Ask team members to keep a record of the number of people interviewed conducted during the
visit. A Tally Record sheet is provided in the Guidebook.
Allow time to assign roles for each of the interviews. The roles may include: lead facilitator, time
keeper, recorder, and/or an assigned question to ask. The Interview Assignment Sheet in the
Guidebook can be used to help team members keep track of their interview assignments.
Observations. Review the importance of professional observations during the visit. Ask team
members to turn to the section in their Guidebook on “Observations.” Discuss the purpose of the
“Instructional Tour” and refer to the list of “What to Listen/Look For while on the Instructional
Tour of the School.”
Review the “Classroom Visit” section of the Guidebook. Explain that the purpose of classroom
visits is to view teaching and learning in action and to corroborate information obtained from
interviews and artifacts. Be sure to emphasize that visits are aimed at helping the team verify the
school’s adherence to the standards. Visits are not evaluations of teachers or other staff. Remind
team members to be as unobtrusive as possible and to spend no more than five to ten minutes in
the classroom. Distribute copies of the classroom visit tool (give each member enough copies based
on the anticipated number of classrooms each member will visit) for team members to use. Briefly
review the items on the tool.
Deliberations and Report Writing. Help team members understand how the data they gather
throughout the visit will be organized into information and then verified through multiple ways to
become evidence related to each standard. Explain that team members will be responsible for
crafting a Standard Narrative that provides a description of how the school is meeting the standard,
strengths, and opportunities for improvement. Show them the “Standard Narrative” template.
Discuss the process for writing the Standard Narrative and review the “Guidelines for Making an
Overall Assessment of the Standard.” Encourage them to use the “Standards Review Tool”
throughout the visit to help them take notes and to prepare them for crafting their standard
narrative. The tool includes each standard, essential artifacts to review, the impact statement,
indicators, and overall assessment rubric.
Review of School’s Self Assessment
Facilitate a brief discussion with team members regarding the school’s Self Assessment and identify
any specific questions the team wants to ask or areas it wishes to verify over the course of the visit.
Adjourn the meeting, thanking team members again for their service.
Team Work Sessions
Agenda Materials Needed:
Welcome and Overview of Objectives □ Flip chart paper (7 sheets, each one
Standards Data Collection Activity labeled with one of the AdvancED
School-wide Strengths & Challenges School Standards and placed on the
Activity walls around the room)
□ Flip chart markers
• To organize data collected into information around the □ Tape
standards □ Sticky notes
• To identify overarching strengths and challenges of the
school □ Laptops (chair and selected recorders
in the group to capture findings)
Depending on the team visit schedule, the team may have one or several work sessions during which
the team reviews and synthesizes its findings. This section provides guidance on effective ways to
organize these team work sessions. The same activities can be used for multiple work sessions. By
revisiting these activities, the team is able to go deeper in its examination of each standard and the
school’s overall strengths and weaknesses.
Welcome and Overview of Objectives
Welcome team members to the work session. Provide a few minutes for team members to share
their overall thoughts and reactions to the visit thus far. Give an overview of the objectives for the
Standards Data Collection Activity
Individuals place data on sticky notes for each standard. Explain that we will begin the work
session by recording the data collected/observed from the team’s activities and organizing the data
into information around each of the seven AdvancED Standards. Ask each team member to take
approximately 20 minutes to record data collected about the standards on sticky notes. Team
members should use separate sticky notes for each piece of data. They may have several sticky notes
for each standard. When they have finished recording the data, they should place the sticky notes
on the appropriate flip chart labeled by each standard.
As team members are working, walk around the room to see if team members need assistance or
have any questions.
Persons assigned to each standard organize the data into information. Once all the sticky
notes have been placed on the flip charts, ask the team member(s) assigned to each standard to go to
their respective flip charts and begin organizing the data into information by grouping the sticky
notes around common themes and categories. As team members engage in this activity, they may
find that a sticky note belongs more appropriately with another standard. They can move notes
from standard to standard, as well as engage other members of the team in discussions about what
belongs on their flip chart. Team members should begin to identify the common themes or clusters
that are emerging for their assigned standards. They should identify questions to be explored at the
school and school level over the next two days to validate the emerging themes. In addition, team
members should review the standard, impact statement, and indicators for their standard to see what
areas may not be appearing on the flip chart (i.e., what haven’t we heard that we need to look for).
These are areas that the team members will want to inquire about during the remainder of the visit.
School-wide Strengths and Challenges Activity
Bring the team members back into one large group. Explain that the next activity will allow the
team to think across standard areas, identifying overarching strengths and challenges facing the
school. These overarching themes will help frame potential commendations and required actions
for the school.
Small group identification of strengths and challenges. Break the group into two groups. Each
group should identify overarching strengths and challenges facing the school. Strengths are strong
and effective practices, processes, or systems which benefit the school. Challenges are limitations
and/or barriers that may be impacting (or have the potential to impact) the school’s performance
and effectiveness. Team members should share strengths and challenges based on what they
observed, heard, or read. For each strength and challenge, the team should include the data that
supports it (in other words, how does the team know it is strength or challenge? what data supports
the team’s statement?). Ask a member of each small group to serve as the recorder. The recorder
should record the small group’s discussion on a laptop. The chair will want to have access to the
notes for the purpose of writing the team report.
As the groups work, if the Chair is not part of one of the teams, he/she should visit each group,
listen for emerging themes, and answer any questions that might arise.
Team Report Out. Bring the two groups together to report out. Ask the lead facilitator from one
of the groups to report the strengths identified by his/her group. When the facilitator has
concluded, ask the facilitator from the other group to share the strengths identified by his/her
group. Listen for common themes. Allow the team members to ask questions and challenge
assumptions. Identify any questions or areas that the team wishes to gather additional data on over
the remainder of the visit. When the strengths from each group have been shared, repeat the
process for the reporting out of the challenges identified by each team.
As the Chair, listen for themes that emerge from this session. These will begin to form the basis of
the team’s commendations and required actions.
Guidance for Remaining Activities of the Team
Review the Visit Schedule and Team Assignment Sheet with the team, clarifying the remaining
activities of the visit. Make sure team members understand their roles and assignments.
Final Team Work Session and Deliberations
Sample Agenda Materials Needed:
Standard Narrative Work Sessions
The following can be found in the
Guidebook for AdvancED School Accreditation
Team Deliberations & Consensus
Quality Assurance Review Teams
Final Meeting with the Principal
Oral Exit Report □ Standards Review Tool
Visit Concludes □ Standard Narrative Worksheet
Found on the Team Chair Website:
• To verify the school’s adherence to the standards □ Oral Exit Report PPT Template
• To make an overall assessment regarding the level at From School:
which the school is meeting each standard
• To draft Standard Narratives for each standard □ Screen and LCD projector
• To reach consensus on commendations and
• To make an accreditation status recommendation
• To share the team’s findings with the school leadership and stakeholders
Standard Narrative Work Sessions
After completing all scheduled activities of the team and gathering any additional evidence needed to
verify adherence to the standards, team members gather to craft their Standard Narratives. Remind
team members to use the Standards Review Tool located in the Guidebook for AdvancED School
Accreditation QAR Teams. The tool will help them organize their thoughts and evidence in
preparation for writing their standard narratives.
Refer team members to the Standard Narrative Worksheet in their Guidebook. The narrative
includes a general description, an overview of strengths, a discussion of opportunities for
improvement, and an overall assessment level for the standard. Help team members understand the
need for alignment between the Standards Narrative and their overall assessment level for the
standard (e.g., if the team member is recommending an overall assessment level of “emerging,” the
Standard Narrative should reflect that rating).
As the team members are working, visit each member to answer questions and to gather information
for inclusion in the Oral Exit Report. Validate the emerging themes from prior work sessions and
frame them into draft commendations and required actions. Begin drafting the Oral Exit Report.
Discuss standard narratives. Bring the team members together to begin full team deliberations on
the standards, commendations, required actions, and accreditation status recommendation. Ask
each team member to provide a brief five minute summary of his/her findings. Team members
should report the strengths, opportunities for improvement, and overall assessment level they are
recommending for their standard. After each standard report, ask for questions and comments
from other members of the team. Facilitate the discussion to arrive at a consensus regarding the
strengths, opportunities for improvement, and overall assessment level. Be mindful of the time to
ensure that all standard reports are made and appropriate discussion for each standard has occurred.
Gain consensus on commendations and required actions. Following the standard reports,
discuss the emerging themes that derived from the strengths and challenges activities during prior
team work sessions and that were validated through the standard reports. Frame the emerging
themes into draft commendations and required actions. Ask team members to discuss and react to
the draft commendations and required actions. Gain consensus from team members on the
commendations and required actions.
Make an accreditation status recommendation. Based on the Standard Narratives and
commendations and required actions, work with the team to arrive at an accreditation status
recommendation. Use the form and policy at the end of the Guidebook for AdvancED School
Accreditation QAR Teams to guide this discussion.
Finalize the Oral Exit Report. Use the findings identified through the team deliberations to
complete the Oral Exit Report (the template for the PowerPoint Report is provided on the team
chair website at www.advanc-ed.org/teamchairs).
As you are finalizing the Oral Exit Report, the team members are refining and completing their
Standard Narratives. Ask team members to review and edit each other’s narratives to ensure that
the final content you receive for the report is of high quality.
Final Meeting with the Principal
Prior to the Oral Exit Report, the Team Chair meets with the Principal and any designated staff
members to review the team’s findings. Use the “Checklist for Final Visit with the Principal”
available on the team chair website at www.advanc-ed.org/teamchairs to guide this final visit.
Team members should use this time to continue finalizing their Standard Narratives.
Oral Exit Report
Deliver the oral exit report. Begin by thanking the school. Explain that the oral exit report is a
presentation of the team’s finding. Questions will not be taken during the presentation.
Thank the school for their hospitality and commitment to quality. Thank the team members for
their service. Disseminate evaluations to the team members and school.
Refer to the “Before, During, and After the Visit” checklist on the team chair website at
www.advanc-ed.org/teamchairs for the Chair’s tasks following the visit.