What should I expect during an accreditation site visit?

Over a three-day period, The Association of Recovery Schools (ARS) will send a team to your school to meet with you, discuss the accreditation standards in detail and then undertake a series of activities. These can include:

  1. Classroom observations in at least half the classrooms
  2. Therapeutic activities observations over the course of two days
  3. Interviews with school leaders—preferably individually
  4. Focus group interviews with students, teaching staff, therapeutic staff and parents, Board of Director member if appropriate or external leadership group
  5. Curriculum review
  6. Recovery policy and procedures review

Who is on the ARS Accreditation Site Visit Team?

The team is comprised of volunteer leaders from the school-based recovery field who have been trained in the ARS accreditation process. The typical site visit team includes:

  1. Education Expert: The education expert has expertise in research-based best practices in education. Experience in a Recovery School is preferred but if the site visit member has other qualifications that are needed then experience in a Recovery School may not be required. This team member is responsible for observing classroom practices and related activities during the site visit and co-leading interviews and focus groups with either the Team Leader or Recovery Expert.
  2. Recovery Expert: The recovery expert has expertise in adolescent addiction and recovery. Experience in a Recovery School is preferred but if the site visit member has other qualifications that are needed then experience in a Recovery School may not be required.  This team member is responsible for observing treatment and recovery related activities during the site visit and co-leading interviews and focus groups with either the Team Leader or Education Expert.
  3. Team Leader: The team leader has evaluation experience as well as experience in education and recovery. The Team Leader is responsible for organizing all aspects of the site visit, including scheduling the visit, choosing the site visit team members, communication with the school regarding documents needed before the visit and after. The team leader is also responsible for gathering the data from the site visit team and using the data to write the accreditation report.
  4. Special Education Expert: A special education expert may be included in the team for those schools with a high enrollment of students with IEP’s.

How much does it cost?

ARS is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that undertakes fundraising and receives membership dues to support a diverse set of important activities for Recovery High Schools across the U.S.

Fees for accreditation are determined on a case-by-case basis in recognition that recovery schools are in various stages of development and maturity. Established schools are asked to financially support the costs of preparing and deploying the Accreditation Site Visit Team. The costs for team recruitment and training and for research activities that support the accreditation process are supported by ARS partners, members and donors.

The typical cost to schools for the accreditation site visit and report is $6,100 which includes:

  • One day of classroom observations – $500
  • Four individual interviews – $600
  • Three focus group interviews (teachers, students, parents)  – $1500
  • Curriculum Review – $1000
  • Recovery procedures review – $1000
  • Accreditation report  – $1500

What are the responsibilities of ARS and the Recovery High School?

The responsibilities of ARS include:

  1. Scheduling of classroom observations and analysis of observation data
  2. Schedule and perform focus groups with students, staff, school leaders and board of directors
  3. Document analysis and curriculum alignment to determine if standards are being met
  4. Regular communication with school leaders regarding progress and outcomes
  5. Compilation of omnibus report
  6. Complete a report for the school and ARS on the outcomes of the site visit

The responsibilities of the Recovery High School include:

  1. Aid in scheduling classroom observations and focus groups
  2. Regular meetings with ARS to review results
  3. Provide ARS with relevant data files including, but not limited to: State testing data, PL221 report, AYP summary reports, NWEA-MAP, grades, graduation rates, GAIN-SS data, urinalysis data, sobriety measures, personality/ mental health measures
  4. Provide ARS with Board meeting minutes, Board rosters, job descriptions, Employee Handbooks, results of any previously implemented surveys, interviews, or site visits.
  5. Provide ARS with documentation of curriculums used, student products, classroom observations, weekly staff meetings, school charter and mission statement.
  6. Provide ARS with any documents related to therapeutic techniques used
  7. Provide ARS with any data regarding student academic achievement and recovery success.

How long is accreditation good for?

Accreditation from the Association of Recovery Schools last for 5 years, for those schools who have received full accreditation at the time of their applications.  For schools that have met a substantial number of the required Performance Standards, and show the potential for growth in those Standards that are unmet, accreditation may be granted for a preliminary 2 year period, after which they will be invited to resubmit their materials for additional review.

What is expected of an Accredited Recovery High School?

Accredited schools are expected to maintain their membership in the Association of Recovery Schools and to participate in any  ARS data collection activities that the Association undertakes.  Accredited schools are also expected to maintain the high standards of educational and recovery services that led to the accreditation.

How long does the accreditation process take?

Although each accreditation process is unique, schools looking to undergo accreditation should give themselves six months to prepare all necessary documents and meet with their accreditation team prior to the official visit. To schedule your accreditation visit and determine a schedule that best fits your needs, please contact Kristen Harper