Top Marks for Our Northern Virginia Private School!

Pinecrest is excited to announce that our Northern Virginia private school recently underwent its regular five-year re-accreditation review and received top marks!  We invite you to read this important parent update sent by our Head of School.  We are proud to be accredited by AdvancED and even prouder that the work we do at our small private school in Annandale was commended in this way!

February 7, 2019

Dear Parents,

I am excited to share with you a formal update about the status of our five-year re-accreditation engagement review visit that took place from November 13-14, at our school.  We received our final report earlier this week so this is now public knowledge. (Yay!)

Our accrediting body is AdvancED (the umbrella organization for the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Council on School Improvement – SACS CASI), and AdvancED accredits 36,000 public and private schools across the United States and 70 countries.

About a month prior to our engagement review visit, I submitted evidence and detailed responses indicating how we meet and are working towards all the standards, related documents (including survey results from parents, students and staff) and required assurances for the visiting team to review before coming to Pinecrest.

During the engagement review visit, the visiting team spent time (at least twenty minutes per observation) in classrooms and in some enrichment classes.  They interviewed me, three administrative team staff, five teachers, five students, eight parents and six parent members of the Board of Directors.

IEQ Score and Re-accreditation Recommendation

Most noteworthy from the engagement review report is our recommendation for re-accreditation and our score on the Index of Education Quality (IEQ).

The Engagement Review Team recommended to the AdvancED Global Commission that we earn the distinction of accreditation for another five-year term, and the commission voted at the end of January to ratify this status. We will be receiving our updated certificate within the next 8-10 weeks.

AdvancED provides the Index of Education Quality (IEQ) score as a holistic measure of overall performance based on a comprehensive set of standards and review criteria. A formative tool for improvement, it identifies areas of success as well as areas in need of focus.  The IEQ is comprised of the Standards Diagnostic ratings from the three domains: Leadership Capacity, Learning Capacity and Resource Capacity.  The IEQ results are reported on a scale of 100 to 400 and provide information about how the institution is performing compared to expected criteria.  An IEQ of 275 and above indicates the institution is beginning to reach the Impact level and is engaged in practices that are sustained over time and are becoming ingrained in the culture of the institution.  We are proud to report that our IEQ score is 349.00! The average score of AdvancED schools evaluated for accreditation in the last five years is 278.34 – 283.33.  (Again, AdvancED accredits 36,000 public and private schools across the United States and 70 countries.)

Noteworthy Insights from the Review Narrative

  • “…Pinecrest School presented as an exceptional continuous improvement learning school.  The Engagement Review Team identified relevant themes from the review that support their rigorous continuous improvement process.  These themes support the school’s continuous improvement journey and represent strengths and opportunities to guide the improvement journey.”
  • “The commitment of the Head of School and the school staff to provide a well-managed learning environment was strongly evident throughout the school.  There were consistent observations and evidence…to confirm the security, visibility, supervision, and management of a strong learning environment.
  • “Team observations confirmed commitment of all staff to implement with fidelity the security and supervision processes required to ensure all students were engaged in a safe and learning environment.”
  • “Running parallel to the theme of providing a well-managed learning environment was the commitment to a student-first, nurturing, and supportive educational environment.  The school’s improvement plan and mission statement of providing a positive social and emotional environment for student development clearly guided the rigorous work that was done daily in all classrooms and throughout the school.  During her presentation, the Head of School articulated a clear commitment to maintaining a culture that proactively supports students’ academic and social-emotional growth.  Parent interviews confirmed consistency of praised acknowledgment of the school’s nurturing culture and listed this environment as one of the main reasons they selected the school for their child. It was abundantly clear from all evidences that the school values nurtur[ing] curiosity while bolstering self-confidence and equipping its students with the cognitive skills necessary to undertake and succeed in rigorous academic pursuits throughout their lives.
  • During classrooms observations, there were examples of students actively engaged in a variety of learning experiences appropriate to their needs.  From the exploration of each child’s interests to encouraging new and different ideas and concepts, the school focuses on the unique qualities of each individual child.  Multiple evidences of this value were seen, heard, and observed as the school day unfolded.  In addition, teacher interviews and observations confirmed that they exhibit warm, caring, and approachable behaviors with all children throughout the school day.  It was evident through a variety of evidences and observations that the school provides intentional opportunities for student-centered supportive learning experiences where all students were considered special individuals with unique gifts all their own.
  • “Another theme that was identified was an active learning environment of collaboration and professional growth opportunities throughout the school.  The strength of the school was its Head of School’s influence and strong instructional leadership to actively engage teachers, management staff, and students for collaborative brainstorming and professional growth experiences.  The Head of School encourages collaboration and shared responsibility for school improvement among stakeholders.”
  • “In addition to adult collaborative experiences, there were extended real life assimilation opportunities for learners to make connections from content to real-life experiences and the opportunities for them to collaborate with their peers to accomplish/complete projects, activities, tasks and/or assignments (i.e., Stock Market Team, community service, collaborative team presentations).”
  • “Personal relationships were naturally built and treasured as teachers talk with and listen to children attentively for deeper learning and practice.  Through observations, children and adults interacted with mutual respect and a sense of community that permeated the school environment.  Cooperation and peer collaborative interactions were fostered and prized as students progressed through their day.
  • “…the school provided a standards-based curriculum that provides equitable and challenging learning experiences to ensure all students have sufficient opportunities to develop learning, thinking, and life skills that lead to success at the next level.  Examples of academic rigor were part of several observations.  Other classrooms observations indicated students were consistently challenged with higher order thinking tasks and required to explain their thinking and work.  Students responded appropriately not only to displaying their answers on a white board but verbalizing the strategies they used to arrive at the solution.  All classrooms had the learning expectations posted for students to be aware of as they completed their tasks.  Students were actively engaged in activities and learning. Observations in classrooms revealed consistently that students took responsibility for their own learning.  Higher order thinking was more about analyzing and attempting to apply information.  Higher levels of rigor were consistently observed in all classrooms.

Accreditation Standards

The AdvancED Performance Standards Diagnostic is used by the engagement review team to evaluate the institution’s effectiveness based on AdvancED’s Performance Standards.  The diagnostic consists of three components built around the three domains:  Leadership Capacity, Learning Capacity and Resource Capacity.  Within these three domains are 30 standards.

The standards are assessed using the “i3 Levels of Impact” rubric system:

  • Initiate – Priorities for Improvement (these must be done and a check-in is required with AdvancED during the next five years)
  • Improve – Opportunities for Improvement (these are suggestions for continuous improvement based on the visiting team’s observations and review of our school)
  • Impact – Effective Practices (practices are deeply entrenched and embedded in the school)

We had 0 areas marked as Initiate; 4 standards marked as Improve (these were not a surprise and related to data and technology – we know these are emerging areas for us); and the remainder of the standards (26 total) were marked as Impact, which means we are exceeding or meeting expectations.

Positive Comments from November 14

In addition to the above narrative from the report, many positive comments were shared with us verbally at the close of the external review visit on Wednesday afternoon, November 14; I shared these originally in an email to families at the close of the visit, but I think they’re worth repeating.

  • Through observations, the team saw “very high instructional teaching practices” and “evidence of building confidence with students to take risks, balanced nicely with well managed environments”
  • “Teaching staff is strong”
  • There is a “well-balanced team in place at this school”
  • “This is a student-centered school”
  • “Through your school, we have greater faith in education.”

We are very proud of the results of our re-accreditation and that so much of what we know we work hard to do every day was clearly evident to educators who did not have any background or experience with our school.  We feel the visiting team truly saw the best of Pinecrest School (and the very best of the people who make it that way), and we are grateful.  We also appreciate the opportunity to reflect and continue to improve our school with the team’s feedback.

Thank you for your continued support and trust in Pinecrest.


Nicole McDermott
Head of School

CC: Faculty, Staff and Board of Directors

*Interested in learning more about our award-winning, quality private school in Annandale?  Contact us now and schedule a tour!