National Lutheran School Accreditation is a voluntary process. A period of self-evaluation will be followed by a visiting team of objective observers. Their goal is to help Lutheran schools improve the quality of their programs for the benefit of students and their families.
The process is based on a set of national standards similar to other accreditation programs, but specifically designed to help evaluate and improve not only the curriculum and administration, but also the religious dimension of the school.
NLSA is a program supervised by the National Accreditation Commission, made up of one voting commissioner from each District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod and supported by the LCMS Department of School Ministry.
All early childhood, elementary, and high schools recognized by The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod may apply.
For additional information contact the Mid-South District Office at 1-866-373-1343 or in the Memphis area at 373-1343.
National Lutheran School Accreditation
Mid-South District NLSA Commission – Updates, Changes and Frequently Asked Questions
National Lutheran School Accreditation is a formal written journey that has its purpose rooted in school improvement. Lutheran Schools today and in the future need to be constantly self-assessing, focused on “Best Practices” and grounded in Scripture. Our foundation must be consistently rooted in Christ while our methodology and practices continues to develop based on what is best for students. The following questions are commonly asked by those considering the process.
Q: How long does an NLSA process take to complete? A: You have two years from the time you apply. Most schools will be able to complete the self-study process and host a visiting team within a one year period.
Q: What cost is involved? A: There is a $450 annual cost to Synod, which is due in October. The school is responsible for reimbursing the six visiting team members for costs associated with their absence from their schools mileage, lodging, and substitute teacher. The school provides meals for the visiting team during their two-day visit. Visit team members and school faculty involved in the self-study process may obtain State Continuing Education Clock Hours by following the prescribed procedures.
Q: How do I know what to do? A: Once you apply, you will be assigned a consultant who will walk you through the process. The materials are available on the LCMS portal and provide information necessary for a clear picture of your school’s expectations. This new process is evidence based.
Q: What is all involved? A: There is a self-study consisting of seven sections each with “indicators of success”. Some indicators describe conditions that must be in place in your school for gaining accreditation. Other indicators are ranked 1-4 based on your practice (what you do) and your evidence (what you have). There are also required attachments that are included. On any indicator where your current practice ranks below a “3” you must supply a plan that indicates the steps involved in improving your practices and documents. The NLSA process is transitioning from paper to a fully electronic format by 2016.
Q: What is involved in the application process? A: Contact the Mid-South District Office 901.373.1343 for assistance in beginning the process and for application information. Choose a steering committee of 5-7 dedicated people who will help give direction and lead the process. The Principal should interact with and be on the steering committee. After you have successfully applied, you will be assigned a consultant to meet with you prior to starting your self-study.
Q: How long does a period of accreditation last? A: NLSA is based on a five year cycle. You would apply and begin a new self-study in the fourth year of your cycle.
Q: What happens the other four years? A: Each year the faculty addresses the needs identified in the action plan. The action plan also serves at the annual report and provides evidence of your yearly progress based on your initial self-study and visit team report. It allows school improvement to be a continuous project that spans five years and is not just the focus during one year of your visit. This annual report is submitted to the Mid-South District NLSA Commission and is reviewed by the District Commission to ensure progress is being made toward your stated goals.
Q: Could somebody help us decide if NLSA is right for us? A: Contact the Mid-South District Mission and Ministry Executive at 901.373.1343 for assistance.
Unique Tennessee Factors in the NLSA Process
The Mid-South District has its own addendum for schools in Tennessee that provides recognition of the accreditation by the Tennessee State Board of Education. If these additional requirements are satisfactorily completed, Tennessee schools will be fully recognized by the State of Tennessee as category 2 schools. Please contact the Mid-South District office to obtain the addendum.
A Lutheran School applies for NLSA through the Mid-South District office. The NLSA Nation office will assign a consultant and materials will be made available to the principal. The consultant will contact the principal to discuss the accreditation process. Generally the self-study process is completed in nine to twelve months and is reviewed by the consultant. The consultant and District Education Executive will assist the principal in assembling a visit team. The visit will be scheduled when the consultant critiques and approves their finished self-study report. The District Education Executive appoints a visit team captain. The team captain and principal of the school invite and select five other team members. The visit team takes two days and an evening to validate your self-study and write their report. The District Commission receives a copy of all self-study reports and visit team reports. Starting in 2016 this will be submitted electronically. In June the District Commission determines if the school qualifies for National recognition based on these documents. The District Recommendation is voted on by the National Commission in late July. The District Education Executive will schedule a public presentation of the NLSA Accreditation Certificate. This is usually done before or after a worship service in the fall.
What’s Changed? There is currently only one process for receiving NLSA recognition. Early Childhood Centers may complete this process independent of their school or be included in the total school accreditation process.