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Participating in the accreditation process offered by the Association of Recovery schools has several benefits. During the accreditation site visit and document review, recognized experts in the field of recovery schools will be providing feedback regarding research-based best practices and strategies to improve the quality of educational and recovery services. Based on the findings of the site visit and document review, the accreditation report will provide valuable feedback to school leaders and stakeholders regarding the current status of the school.  Finally, being an ARS accredited recovery school will ensure students and parents that the educational and recovery supports offered by the school are of high quality and have been evaluated by experts in the field.

Currently Accredited Schools

  1. Archway Academy
  2. Emerald School of Excellence
  3. Harmony Academy
  4. Hope Academy
  5. Insight Program
  6. Mission Academy
  7. P.E.A.S.E Academy
  8. Raymond J. Lesniak Experience Strength, & Hope Recovery High School
  9. University High School
  10. William J. Ostiguy High School

Remarks from Accredited School Leaders

Roger Oser from William J. Ostiguy High School

“Completing the ARS accreditation process provided the Ostiguy school community opportunity to review and reflect upon all aspects of our school operations. The accreditation report has served as a roadmap for our continuous school improvement process. Participating in the accreditation process has not only strengthened the performance and growth of our school internally, but also proved invaluable in raising awareness about the recovery high school model externally in our community.”

Rachelle Gardner from Hope Academy

“The accreditation process allows for all stakeholders to have a voice in celebrating what is working and what is promoting success for our students.  It allows for opportunities to work together to fill in the identified gaps and to develop a plan to strengthen our program.

This process validates our program, interventions and school community.  It allows us to share our best practices and to benefit from other schools and their programs that are a part of ARS. Once accredited, it is a great marketing tool as we promote our school and work to include more students, to fund raise, and to develop partnerships within our community.”

Michael Durchslag from P.E.A.S.E. Academy

“The Association of Recovery Schools’ Accreditation is not an easy process but is incredibly valuable. It allowed the P.E.A.S.E. Academy team to really reflect on what we do well and areas that we need to strengthen. Having an outside organization to provide feedback is invaluable in this. Furthermore, it helped us bring all the stakeholders to the table: teachers, administrator, parents, and district personnel so that we can continue to improve how we serve students academically, in their recovery, and to insure institutional sustainability for the future.”

Sasha McLean from Archway Academy

“The ARS Accreditation process is by far the most comprehensive and helpful process we have encountered in 12 years.  We have several other local and state accreditation sources but the ARS Accreditation was the most meaningful.  They understand the very unique and special task we have of melting education and recovery.  They looked at ALL aspects involved in making our school successful without leaving out any key areas.  The other accreditation processes only focus on one aspect of who we are.  The information we received from the team is the backbone of our strategic plan for growth.  Thank you ARS.”

Gretchen Harriman from Insight Program

“The accreditation process affirmed the positive aspects of our program that were consistent across all stakeholder groups, and provided constructive feedback for areas in which we partially met standards. The preparation for the accreditation process resulted in intensive professional development and exploration of student data.  As a team, we benefited from a unique form of program-level professional learning.”

Download ARS Accreditation Manual Summary Description

Accreditation FAQs

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. 

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 Andrew Finch.

Apply for Accreditation

ARS invites all operating Recovery High Schools to apply for national accreditation. Schools must be current members of ARS and be able to host an accreditation site visit within 6 months of their application filing date. We encourage full review of accreditation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) prior to application submission.

For more information about the accreditation process please contact ARS Accreditation Coordinator, Traci Bowermaster, at [email protected].