The Application Process

CESA is committed to the rigorous application of aspirational standards through the relationships and expertise of like-minded peers. School leaders who are committed in humility to the continuous pursuit of the CESA Standards of Accountability (c), accountability to the Council, and the responsibility to other CESA schools should be encouraged to learn more about joining this movement. We encourage you to contact us or to reach out to a Member of Council Head, who can help you learn more about the transformational value of CESA.

Once ready to apply to become a Candidate School, please complete the Application for Membership and submit it to Katie Wiens at kwiens@cesaschools.org.

Becoming a Member School

All interested schools must complete the CESA Application for Membership. Once the application is completed, the Director of Institutional Review will connect with the school and review the standards with the administrative team. This will help the school understand their ability to seek full membership over the next two years. After this call, the Institutional Review Director will determine approval of the application, and if approved, the school will become a Candidate School.

Candidate status will give the school full rights and privileges of a CESA member school. The school and its faculty may attend CESA-only events and receive the latest research and publications as a CESA member. Once the school’s application has been approved, the school will be invoiced $2,000 for the Application Fee and will pay 50% dues annually as if they were a full CESA-member school. Annual members are billed on July 1st for the upcoming year. If a school applies during the school year, their dues for that year will be prorated.

A Candidate School is one that has committed to completing an on-site Institutional Review, and subsequently submitting a Standards Achievement Plan (SAP) for review by the Board of Directors within the next two years.

Schools must complete all three components of the Institutional Review process within two years unless an extension is granted. If they should fail to complete the process within two years, or if they should fail to receive approval from the Board of Directors, the school will forfeit any fees or dues paid to CESA and will not attain the Member of Council designation.

All Institutional Review components and approval by the Board of Directors are required in full before being considered a Member of Council. Candidate Schools may not promote themselves as being a “CESA School,” “Member of Council”, or any other official or unofficial CESA designation, including the display of the CESA logo or links on the schools’ website.

The purpose of the Institutional Review is to gain a perspective on the institution and where it performs in relation to research-based best practices nationally for Christian schools. The goal of CESA is to enable leaders to lead high-performing Christian institutions that deliver the best education to students across the country.  Using the CESA Institutional Standards, schools use rigorous, research-based standards to measure their school against objective standards.

As a Candidate School prepares for the Institutional Review Visit, a team, including the Head of School, will prepare a Report based upon the CESA Institutional Standards.  This Report will be sent to the Director of Reviews a minimum of 60 days prior to the visit.  The Director of Reviews will then schedule a call with the Head of School to discuss each of the primary standards.

In responding to the Standards, with both a narrative and necessary documentation, schools should be reminded that in order to receive accreditation and Member of Council Status, 100% of primary and 80% of secondary standards must be met.

The Institutional Review Visit will include a team of four individuals. The team will be composed of the Institutional Review Director and/or the Executive Director of CESA, 1 or 2 heads of school, as well as an expert in independent school academics. The Institutional Review Visit will give an opportunity for the school to better understand the main areas of success as well as improvement, hopefully resulting in membership of CESA. At the end of the Visit, the team will present the findings in-person to the head of school, followed by a written report.  The School will then have 60 days to respond to the report with a Standards Achievement Plan.  The Director of Reviews and Executive Director will then make a recommendation to the Executive Committee of the Board for approval or denial of accreditation and Member of Council status. 

Accreditation Appeal Process

The decision of the Executive Committee of the Board may be appealed in writing by the head of school, referencing specific area(s) in which the school was found deficient. The Executive Committee of the Board will review the original review board’s findings and the head of school’s appeal letter. The school’s accreditation status will remain unchanged during an appeals process. The judgment of the Executive Committee of the Board is final.

All visits and questions about Reviews should be directed to Jim Marsh, Director of Reviews (jmarsh@wcastl.org)

**Note: The CESA Institutional Review may be scheduled to coordinate with an accreditation process of another accrediting organization, if appropriate. Additionally, schools may obtain AdvancED accreditation by passing the CESA Institutional Review process (no AdvancEd team will visit, only the CESA team).  This is a joint accreditation and schools will become a CESA Member of Council and receive AdvancED accreditation.  While this step is not required, it is an option for schools interested in AdvancEd accreditation.

The purpose of the Institutional Review is to gain a perspective on the institution and where it performs in relation to best practices nationally for Christian schools. The goal of CESA is to have high-performing Christian institutions delivering the best education to students across the country.

Jim Marsh, the Director of Institutional Reviews, will facilitate the process of preparing for the review.

The Institutional Review Visit will include a team of four individuals. The team will be composed of the Institutional Review Director and/or the Executive Director of CESA, 1 or 2 heads of school, as well as an expert in independent school academics. The Institutional Review Visit will give an opportunity for the school to better understand the main areas of success as well as improvement, hopefully resulting in being welcomed as a Member of Council.

A full narrative of the Institutional Review Visit can be found here.

**Note: The CESA Institutional Review may be scheduled to coordinate with an accreditation process of another accrediting organization, if appropriate.

After the Visit, the school will have 60 days to provide their School Achievement Plan report to the CESA Institutional Review Director, Jim Marsh.

A template for the SAP can be found here.  After the SAP is submitted, CESA will regularly follow-up with the leadership team to provide support in continuous improvement.  We desire that this is a dynamic process, and we hope to support schools in whatever way needed, including connecting schools with their peers in Member of Council schools who may be able to provide targeted support.

CESA is committed to the continuous growth of schools measured by adherence to our institutional standards.   Those phases are:
  • Application: after schools apply and are accepted into the Candidate School category, a CESA Institutional Review will take place within two years.  At that point, the annual cycle begins.
  • Year One: School Review
  • Years Two and Three: SAP Implementation and Status Report
  • Year Four: Continue SAP Implementation
  • Year Five: Complete Five-Year Renewal Report to include identification of three specific areas targeted for evaluation and improvement
  • Year Six: Institutional Review Visit

Renewal

The purpose of the Membership Renewal is to engage Members of Council with the leadership team of the school in evaluating progress on the Institutional Standards, identifying areas of potential growth, and engaging in professional dialogue that edifies the school leaders and the school.

The visiting team (3 members, including the chair) will visit your campus for 3 days/2 nights. The school being visited is responsible for all travel expenses for the visiting team.  We encourage Heads of School to work with the Director of Reviews to identify known areas of need prior to the visit so that the visiting team can be built with the expertise the school most needs.

The full scope of the Renewal can be found here.

Dues

Members of Council and Provisional school pay membership dues annually. Members are billed on July 1st for the upcoming year.  Members of Council pay full dues and Provisional schools pay 50% dues. The dues are based on the school’s budget listed below:

Dues for the 2020-21 School Year

Up to $1.5 million – $2150

$1.5 to $3 million – $3650

$3 to $4 million – $4450

$4 to $5 million – $5100

$5 to $6 million – $5600

$6 to $7 million – $6500

Over $7 million – $6750

Accreditation

CESA enjoys a dual accreditation partnership with AdvancED.  Schools receiving Member of Council designation also will receive AdvancED Accreditation if desired. While this step is not necessary, it is an option we consider a value-add for our schools. We strongly recommend, however, that schools continue to utilize another accrediting body such as ACSI, SAIS, or other reputable agencies. CESA is committed to and has established a history of working seamlessly with other agencies on dual visits.

If schools choose to add or continue with AdvancED as a dual accreditor, the school is responsible for a) filing an application with AdvanceED designating CESA as the partner organization, b) paying AdvancED dues, and c) notifying CESA of their desire to be dual accredited with AdvancED.  When using this option, the CESA protocol and team will visit; no AdvancED representatives are needed.

If you have questions about your accreditation options, please contact Katie Wiens at kwiens@cesaschools.org or (770) 268-9355.

Contact Us

Barry Giller

Barry Giller serves as the vice chair of the Board of Directors for CESA. Barry joined the faculty of Charlotte Christian as Head of School in June 2010 and ushered the school into its 60th anniversary. As head of school Mr. Giller oversees the college preparatory school’s 180 employees and 1055 students grades JK to 12. A 1994 graduate of Wheaton College, he received his Bachelor of Arts in history/social science and a certification for secondary education. He also holds a master’s degree in educational leadership in Nova Southeastern University. Mr. Giller currently resides on the board of directors for North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association and Teaching Fellows Institute. Mr. Giller served six years as headmaster at Christian Heritage School, a private K-12 interdenominational Christian college preparatory school, in Trumbull, Conn. He joined Christian Heritage in 2001 as the upper school principal and was promoted to the headmaster position in 2004. Barry and his wife, Lisa, have seven children and are active members of Church at Charlotte.

Mission Clarity

CESA member schools are accredited, mission-driven, Christian institutions aspiring to be academically, programmatically, and institutionally excellent. 

Effective Goverance

CESA member schools commit to a model of leadership that includes a governing board, which formally (policy statement) and informally (daily practice) delegates the daily operation of the institution to the head of school who supervises the administrative team, faculty, and staff.  

Institutional Viability

CESA member schools follow best practices that demonstrate astute financial management, appropriate budget forecasting, and thoughtful short and long-term financial planning processes.  

Academic & Programmatic Distinction

CESA member schools shall provide high quality academic, artistic, and athletic programs designed to meet the mission of the school and to distinguish the institution as one of high quality.  

Sense of Coherent Christian Community

CESA member schools shall develop a Christian ethos rooted in a commitment to the Nicene Creed and/or Apostles Creed, the foundational tenets of Christian orthodoxy, that distinguishes them from other local public and independent schools and we should have a nice sense of community.

Schedule of Events

Monday, Jan 20th

Tuesday, Jan 21

Wednesday, Jan 22