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Glossary

Assessment
The strategies used to determine to what extent goals have been achieved. This includes strategies used to elicit feedback during a process and those which measure achievement upon completion.
Bible Content
The explicit teaching of the Bible, including its grand narrative, principles and application.
Biblical Worldview Integration
The dynamic process of developing a unified, God-centered view of the world which is lived out in daily life. In the classroom, this impacts how the curricular content connects with, is transformed by, and/or is distinguished from the truth revealed to us by God in the Bible.
Biblical Worldview
A view of life intentionally shaped by the grand narrative and principles taught in the Bible.
Biblically-based relationships
The choice to let truth and love guide interactions, recognizing that each person is a fallen image-bearer of God. Humility, dignity, trust and reconciliation are valued.
Christ-like Character
The personal qualities that Christians are urged in the New Testament to adopt in response to the saving work of Jesus and His life example.
Christian Identity
The attributes of the school that make it distinctive from a school that is not Christian. This could include, but is not limited to: Biblical worldview integration across the subject areas, the explicit teaching of Bible content, the practice of prayer and worship, the teaching and modeling of Christ-like character and relationships.
Christian Philosophy of Education
See Appendix 1 for a full definition and description.
Collaboration
A process that promotes open communication, the sharing of resources and expertise, and consensus building.
Collaborative
Working with others in a way that promotes open communication, the sharing of resources and expertise, and consensus building.
Core Values
A set of values that members of the school community regard as important and agree to live by. These principles guide the practice of the school in fulfilling its mission and vision.
Critical Thinking
The process of considering various perspectives on a topic, examining relevant evidence and forming conclusions.
Curricular Content
The specific knowledge and skills students are to be taught. This is generally mandated by the state, but some schools may have some flexibility to add, remove or substitute certain content.
Data
Collected quantitative and qualitative information that provides insight into decision making.
Descriptor
Statements providing a picture of what compliance with a particular indicator might look like. These are presented by ACSI Europe in the form of a rubric, and assist the school in determining their level of compliance with each indicator.
Expected Student Outcomes
What the school intentionally targets for all students to know, believe, understand, prefer, and be able to do in academic and non-academic areas. See Appendix 3 for more information.
Faith-foundations
A clear description of the doctrinal position of the school, including its denominational affiliation if applicable.
Foundational Documents
A coherent series of documents produced by the school that outline its reason for existence and unique identity. These include, but are not limited to, statements of: Faith, Mission, Vision, Core Values, School-wide Expected Student Outcomes, Christian Philosophy of Education.
Goals
Statements that identify what the school wishes to change or to put in place. These should be clear, actionable, time-bound and aligned with the mission and vision of the school.
Governance
The shared leadership function that provides oversight of all operations of the school, and takes responsibility for the advancement of the school’s mission and vision while providing checks and balances.
Healthy Conflict Resolution
Relational practices, based on biblical principles, that enable people to address areas of disagreement in a manner that maintains trust and brings about positive solutions.
Higher-order Thinking
Thought processes that go beyond the recall of information to the synthesis and evaluation of ideas (e.g. Bloom’s Taxonomy). These processes involve considering various perspectives on a topic, examining relevant evidence and forming conclusions.
Indicator
Descriptions of exemplary practices, processes, and procedures which are evident in highly effective educational programs.
Input
Contributions to decision making.
Instruction
The strategies that a teacher uses to present curricular content.
Instructional Program
The planned activities, designed by teachers, that students participate in with the intention of meeting the school wide expected student outcomes.
Leadership team
Those that carry a specific area of responsibility and accountability for decision making for the school.
Learning Activities
All of the formal/planned and informal/unplanned activities experienced by students as a part of the school program. This includes both curricular and extra/co-curricular activities.
Mission
A clear and inspiring statement of what the school is committed to achieving and why it exists.
Nurtures
Seeking to develop the student into the man or woman that God desires for them to be. It involves teaching, but also loving care and guidance.
Organizational Effectiveness
The ability of the school to use its available resources optimally to fulfil its mission and vision.
Personnel
Anyone with a position of responsibility in the school.
Philosophy
The most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group. The system of thought that will guide the school.
Rubric
A tool used during the self assessment process for determining the extent of compliance with each indicator. The rubrics developed by ACSI Europe contain descriptors for forming, developing, maturing and flourishing.
School Community
All of the individuals or groups who have direct or indirect interest, involvement, or investment in the realization of the mission and vision of the school. This includes, but is not limited to: leadership, teachers, support staff, students, parents, churches, donors.
Sensitivity
Mutual respect and care shown to others, regardless of personal, cultural, denominational or other types of diversity.
Servant leadership
Servant leadership is based on the idea that leaders serve a larger good rather than themselves. Servant leadership seeks to achieve a vision through developing others and providing strong support for that growth rather than gaining control. This is best modeled in the attitude and the earthly ministry of Jesus.
Service
Activities engaged in by students and staff that are focussed on meeting the needs of others. This could be within or outside of the school community.
Spiritual Formation
The teaching and nurturing of students in their growth in relationship with God, in dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit in each individual’s life. See Appendix 4 for a summary of spiritual formation assessment.
Spiritual Growth
The Spirit-led process of deepening in relationship with God and developing Christ-like character. See Appendix 4 for information on Assessment of Spiritual Formation.
Standard
An area of quality practice.
Strategic Improvement Goals
The targets set as part of the strategic planning process that the school commits to reaching in a specified time. These goals are meaningful, achievable, clear, and aligned with the mission and vision of the school.
Strategic Improvement Plan
A document that outlines the meaningful, achievable goals the school is currently focussed on, the strategies that are to be implemented in order to achieve these goals, those responsible, and the time frame within which they are expected to be accomplished.
Strategic Partnerships
Connections and collaboration with other Christian schools and organizations for the purpose of mutual growth and support.
Strategic Planning Process
The collaborative, ongoing process of data collection and analysis, planning and goal setting, implementation and review, with the aim of seeing the school more effectively pursue its mission and vision.
Vision
A description of the school’s preferred future that is consistent with its Christian foundations and identity.
Written Policies and Procedures
See Appendix 2 for a full definition and description.

Appendix 1: Christian Philosophy of Education

Teaching is not a neutral activity, but is one that is founded on assumptions about the world and the place of human beings in that world. A clearly written document outlining the school’s Christian philosophy of education provides a framework within which teachers can form their own approach to the curricular content. It supports the process of Biblical worldview integration in all subject areas, and the advancement of the school’s mission and vision.

This document describes what the school believes about:
  • The purpose (goals) of Christian education, and how this is distinctive from the broader (secular) educational environment.
  • The nature of the child/student.
  • The nature and role of the Christian teacher in the classroom, and in the lives of students.
  • The nature of the learning process, curricular content and assessment.
  • The complementary roles of the school, family and the church in the spiritual nurture of the child/student.

Appendix 2: Policies

It is suggested that the school has written policies on at least the following items:
  • Board/governance and administrative procedures.
  • Financial management
  • Operational management
  • Facilities management
  • Employment procedures (including grievance procedures)
  • Child protection and safety (including measures for avoiding and reporting of harassment and bullying)
  • Classroom management and disciplinary philosophy and procedures
  • Conflict resolution
  • Non-discrimination
  • Privacy and data protection

Appendix 3: Expected Student Outcomes

Expected Student Outcomes (ESOs) are sometimes referred to as “A Portrait of a Graduate”, as they list the most significant abilities, attitudes and habits that the school desires for their students to develop as a result of participating in the educational (curricular and extracurricular) program. They complement the school’s other foundational documents by providing a picture of what a student looks like if the school is achieving its mission and vision.

Developing a formal statement of ESOs is most useful to a school if:
  • The list of ESOs is developed with input from a wide range of members of the school community, so that the community experiences a sense of shared ownership of them.
  • The list is segmented into 4-6 categories. Each category is given a meaningful, easy to remember label, with sub-points listed below. The labels of the categories are very broad, but the sub-points break down the category into more measurable ideas.
  • The ESOs are made highly visible in the school (physically and virtually) and discussed regularly with all members of the school community. The 4-6 labels become a shared language throughout the school, promoting understanding of and commitment to them.
  • The ESOs are integrated into daily classroom life, rather than being only a feature of devotional talks. Teachers routinely consider how the academic content they are teaching and the methods they are using to teach it can contribute to the students’ growth towards the ESOs, and prepare and teach lessons accordingly.
  • Student progress towards the ESOs is regularly assessed, and this assessment is used to improve programs, policies and practices in line with the mission and vision of the school. This is related to the idea of Spiritual formation assessment (see Appendix 4).

Appendix 4: Assessment of Spiritual Formation

There is a tension involved in the assessment of Spiritual formation.

  • Spiritual formation is a work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. What God is doing is often unseen, and is ultimately under His control. Therefore, the Christian school must be cautious about making judgements about the Spiritual formation of students.
    However…
  • Christian schools value Spiritual formation. Mission, vision and core value statements often highlight the desire to see students grow as disciples of Christ during their time at school, and considerable resources are devoted to programs and practices to this end. Therefore, assessment of Spiritual formation is a matter of integrity and stewardship for the Christian school.

These realities need to be held in dynamic tension with each other in whatever process is used for Spiritual formation assessment, so that neither is promoted at the expense of the other. As a school determines their own, unique approach to Spiritual formation assessment, a few principles can help keep this healthy tension alive.

  • Focus on things that the school is responsible for - that is, the programs and practices that the school uses to promote Spiritual formation. We should ask “Are these programs and practices having the impact that we desire?” rather than “Are these students responding in the way we expect?” or making judgements about an individual student’s spiritual life.
  • While the work of God in a believer’s heart is unseen, it often does become visible through repeated patterns of behaviour. Ask questions about what the consistent, observable patterns of behaviour of students might suggest about the Spiritual climate of the school and what might be impacting that climate.
  • Intentionally seek input from all sectors of the school community on these questions, and in a variety of forms (qualitative and quantitative), in order to counteract blind spots and distortions. Listening to the voice of the students themselves is particularly important.
  • Remain modest and humble about the results of Spiritual formation assessment, acknowledging that there is a degree of subjectivity in any conclusions that are made.
  • Make Spiritual formation assessment an ongoing process, so that conclusions can be tested. The impact of any changes in programs or practices made as a result of one assessment cycle are evaluated in the next.