WELS School Accreditation grows

The WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools accreditation process for WELS early childhood schools, grade schools, and high schools is seeing significant growth.

WELS School Accreditation (WELSSA) evaluates a school’s ministry based on Scripture and sound educational principles.

Mr. Tom Plitzuweit, associate director of the WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools, explains that schools are evaluated on 15 different standards during a three-day visit at the school. The standards center around all WELS schools’ core mission–to share God’s Word. Both strengths and weaknesses are evaluated, and after the visit, the school develops an improvement plan to maintain strengths and improve weaknesses that correlates with the five-year accreditation cycle.

Mr. Mark Otte, principal at Nebraska Evangelical Lutheran High School, Waco, Neb., says, “There are many benefits to going through the accreditation process as any time you take an in-depth look at everything you do you are bound to find reasons to rejoice and thank God for the blessings that he has bestowed on your school. Accreditation also will cause you to question and perhaps improve your school in ways that you might not consider. The single greatest benefit to the accreditation process is it focuses you back on the fundamental reasons why your school exists, which is to share the gospel with families and children.”

Currently, 118 early childhood centers, grade schools, and high schools are WELSSA accredited, with projections reaching 130 accredited schools by the end of 2017.

“We want to do our best with what God has given us, and we want to share God’s Word with the next generation. In order to do that, schools can compare the quality of their programs against nationally recognized standards in a yearlong self-study process,” says Plitzuweit. “As WELSSA continues to grow, we have a need for more people to serve on site teams. This year we had over 100 captains, consultants, and team members, and as it grows we will need even more. We already have 36 site visits scheduled for 2016-2017, which is the highest year we have ever had.”

While WELSSA is a synod accreditation, it is also recognized nationally as part of the National Council for Private School Accreditation as well as many smaller private accreditation agencies and state accreditation agencies.

Mr. Matthew Bauer, principal at St. Mark’s Lutheran School, Citrus Heights, Calif., says, “Being accredited is an easy way to communicate to current and prospective families that we take our mission of ‘serving families with excellence in Christian education’ very seriously.”