Middle States Association of
        Colleges and Schools

   Commission on Secondary Schools

               TEAM REPORTS


Accreditation for Growth/Validating the Vision/ Pathways to Standards of Quality Validation
Team reports are written in a narrative style. These reports should tell the “story” of the school
that has been visited. The “story” should tell about the mission and vision of the school and its
beliefs or values and how these foundational elements inform the school’s improvement
objectives and plans to achieve them. In addition, the report should demonstrate through the
evidence seen and heard by the Validation Team the degree to which the school meets the
Middle States Standards for Accreditation.

A good way of thinking about the quality desired in a team report is to write a report that 1) you
would want to receive and 2) that you are proud to have connected with your name.

Style Guidelines
The AFG/VTV/Pathways Validation Team’s report is a professional document that has great
import for the school/district and for the Commission on Secondary Schools. Therefore, we ask
that you adhere to the following style guidelines:

   Do not use a font larger than 12 point for the general text of the document. Headings and
    sub-headings are in a larger font size, but all fonts and sizes are pre-set in the template, so
    there is no need to change them.

   We prefer the Times New Roman font type.

   Whenever you use the terms Accreditation for Growth/AFG, Validating the Vision/VTV, or
    Pathways to School improvement/Pathways, they should be italicized.

   Please be judicious in your use of bold, capitals, and Italics in other areas of the report.

   Because a Table of Contents is included, please number the pages of the report. We prefer
    you use the software program’s pagination feature to do this.

   We prefer that the report be fully justified.

   Limit your use of the words “commend” and “recommend.” Be complimentary and offer
    suggestions, but avoid the pitfall of providing traditional bulleted lists in the text of your
    document. Suggestions should be woven into the narrative of the report so they are given a
    context for the reader.
Content Guidelines
The report template provides the guide for the content of the team’s report. Every section on the
template must be addressed. Following are areas that are common problems with team reports:

   A well-written AFG/VTV/Pathways team report contains a balance between narrative
    description and analysis. The report conveys what the team saw and heard regarding the
    school’s meeting the expectations of the protocol and the Standards for Accreditation. This
    descriptive element is important, as it serves to confirm or validate the degree to which the
    school is meeting the requirements of the protocol and the standards.

    A second and very important aspect of the team’s report, however, is the analysis of what the
    team saw and heard. Analysis consists of sharing with the school, through the team’s report,
    the team members’ reactions to, thoughts about, and suggestions regarding what the team
    saw and heard. It is through this analysis that the team serves as the school’s “critical
    friends” and meets the charge to the school to leave it in a better position to achieve its plan
    that it was before the team’s visit. It is through the analysis that the team challenges the
    school for the purpose of creating a better plan and, by extension, increasing the likelihood
    that the objectives will be met.

   AFG should be referred to as a protocol, not a process.

   The section on the Standards for Accreditation should contain the evidence the team saw and
    heard that demonstrates that the school/district meets or does not meet the standard. It is not
    acceptable to string the indicators together in paragraph form for the standards section.

   The student performance objectives as approved on the final Technical Review Checklist
    should be reproduced in the body of the report together with all of the baseline data.

   Each action plan should be described separately and analyzed using the criteria in Exhibit 4I
    of Leading from the Heart.
   The following terms/words should be capitalized when proceeded by the article “the”—
    Planning Team, Validation Team, and Internal Coordinators.

   Whenever possible, use quotes from the people interviewed or from the documentation read
    to illustrate a concept or opinion you are proposing. Do not, however, name the person(s)
    from whom the quotes were obtained.

   The mission and beliefs must be included either in the body of the report (in the Content of
    the Plan section) or included in the appendices. We recommend they be placed in both

   The team roster in the appendices should include each team member’s name, position,
    school/district, city, state, but not the full address, telephone/fax numbers, or e-mail address.
   Names of stakeholders should not be included in the report except, as appropriate, the names
    of the principal/head of school, superintendent, and Internal Coordinators. It is most
    important that the names of stakeholders quoted in the report are not included.

Common Writing Errors
Be alert for the following common writing errors:

   Data is a plural noun. The correct usage is “Data are ....”

   The correct pronoun when referring to a school, district, or team is ''it", not “they” or “their.”

   Punctuation marks normally are placed inside quotation marks.

   The correct pronouns when referring to a student (singular) are “he” or “she” or “s/he,” not
    “they” or “their.”

   The past tense of “to lead” is “led” not “lead.”

   Past tense should not be used for anything that is ongoing.

   Numbers ten and under are to be spelled out; use the actual number over ten.
   Staff is a singular noun. Therefore, the correct pronoun when referring to staff is “it” not
    “they. Use “staff members” for plural.

   Common errors with the use of apostrophes include:
     Using “it’s” for the possessive rather than “its.”
     Using “student’s” for the plural “students.”

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