International Montessori
Accreditation Council (IMAC)

Essential Standards
Essentials are the minimum standards for accrediting educational programs through the IMAC agency. The extent to which a program complies with these standards determines its accreditation status. The Essentials therefore include all requirements for which an accredited program is held accountable. Essentials are supplemented by Criteria and Guidelines by IMAC review committees.

Description of a Montessori Teacher
A Montessori teacher is one whose being with children effectively supports and nurtures the children's normal growth and development. Such normality of growth and development is based on the observations and discoveries of Dr. Maria Montessori as reported in her various pertinent writings and publications since 1907. Montessori teaching broadly reflects an adult function of observing children with freedom in a prepared environment.

Criteria might include:
Qualities of a Normal Child:
Precociously intelligent
Eager for Knowledge
Spontaneous self-discipline
Profound concentration
Social Sentiments of help and sympathy for others
Instinct towards Independence
Joy in goal-directed activity
Continuous and happy work
Attachment to Reality Prudence

Qualities of a Montessori Teacher:
Skilled in Observation
Faith in Normality
Well-acquainted with self-educational didactic material
Power of Silence

I. Sponsorship

A. The sponsoring institution must be clearly identified and described in writing. In programs provided by two or more institutions, responsibility of the sponsoring institution of each affiliate for program administration, instruction, supervision, and so forth, must be clearly described in written documents, such as an affiliation agreement or memorandum of understanding.

Criteria might include : Requirement for provision of specific written documentation, such as copy of official legal operating instrument, bylaws, institutional recognition by private or public agencies. Specification of major components of documentation, including provision for periodic review.

B. Accredited educational programs may be established by a lawful institution or person whose purpose includes the operation of Montessori teacher education.

Criteria might include: Specified postsecondary scope of operation, institutional recognition/accreditation, arrangement with specific institutional entities, such as specified colleges, schools or other organization.

C. Accreditation is granted to the sponsoring institution that assumes primary responsibility for curriculum planning and selection of program content; appoints program faculty; coordinates instruction; receives and processes applications for admission; and grants or authorizes the issuance of the certificate or diploma documenting completion of the program. The sponsoring institution shall be responsible for providing assurance that all activities assigned to students are educationally consistent with the purpose of the program.

Criteria might include : Requirements for clearly defined goals and objectives which are reasonably related and consistent with program purpose.

II. Resources

A. General Resources:

Resources must be adequate to support the number of students admitted to the program to achieve the stated objectives of the curriculum.

Criteria might include : Factors to be considered in ascertaining a desirable student capacity, such as type and amount of equipment and space; variety and type of instruction and procedures; and the availability of instructors and other supervisory personnel.

B. Personnel

1. Administration

The program must be operated within an administrative structure which effectively assures that institutional practices and policies are consistent with the program's stated purpose and objectives.

Criteria might include: Statement defining function and responsibility for all pertinent aspects of institutional administration (e.g., organizational chart).

2. Program Officials

The program must have a program director who shall be responsible for the organization, administration, periodic review, continued development, and general effectiveness of the program.

Criteria might include: Statements that adequate clerical and other administrative support staff should be available; statement that program director shall have sufficient pertinent business and educational experience, knowledge and skill to perform assigned responsibility; suggestion that institutions have written job description/requirements for program director and other administrative officials.

3. Instructional Staff

Faculty members must be knowledgeable and effective in teaching the assigned subject.

Criteria might include: Statement of specific skills and qualifications (e.g., mature, professional attitude, responsible, specific experience, academic preparation).

4. Professional Development

Programs shall demonstrate encouragement of continued professional growth to provide assurance that program faculty and officials can fulfill the responsibilities delineated in the Essentials and Criteria.

Criteria might include: An indication of the kinds of continued education and other opportunities that could assist program officials/faculty in maintaining and upgrading their professional and instructional abilities.

C. Financial Resources

Financial resources shall be assured to fulfill obligations to enrolled students.

Criteria might include: A written financial statement or budget shall be periodically prepared and provided giving a clear and accurate picture of the program's financial status. The financial records should be kept in such a form that the economic status of the sponsoring institution may be readily determined.

D. Physical Resources

Adequate facilities, equipment and learning resources shall be provided.

Criteria might include: Instructional aids, reference and demonstration materials must be provided when required by the types of learning experiences delineated in the curriculum. Adequate instructional space shall be provided for program which hold on-site academic and/or practice sessions including an actual model classroom which exemplifies suitable physical conditions for the child age range(s) of the program. Office space for program personnel provides adequately for storing records and materials, preparing instructional materials, consultation with students and in general enabling program personnel to function effectively and efficiently. All spaces are maintained in good repair, are clean and attractive, with adequate lighting, ventilation, power and water supplies, waste disposal, and furnishings. If the space used by the program is provided on a lease, the lease specifies how space requirements are met and responsibility is assigned.

III. Curriculum

Instruction must follow a plan consistent with a body of knowledge based on the observations and discoveries of Dr. Maria Montessori as reported in her various pertinent writings and publications since 1907 which documents:

A. Learning experiences and subject matter sequencing which develops the competencies of a Montessori teacher.

B. Clearly written learning objectives and competencies to be achieved consistent with being a Montessori teacher.

C. Periodic evaluation of students to assess knowledge, progress and skill in the competencies delineated in the program objectives consistent with the description of a Montessori teacher.

Criteria might include: Statement that the sponsoring institution must present learning experiences through specific time frames, format or methodology; a minimum length for the program, or its specific components; informing the sponsoring institution that the credential, diploma or certificate documenting completion of the program should be consistent with awards given for other similar programs; guidance regarding keeping records of curricula, program syllabi, evaluation procedures, practice teaching content and schedules, etc.; references to advance placement and credit for prior education and/or experience.

IV. Students

A. Program Description

Students shall be provided with a clear description of the program and its content, including learning goals, program objectives, required competencies, and other educational assignments.

B. Admission Policies and Procedures

Admission of students shall be made in accordance with the clearly defined and published practices of the sponsoring institution. Any specific academic and technical standards required for admission to the program shall be clearly defined and published.

Criteria might include: Requirement that program officials are responsible for establishing a procedure for determining that the applicants' or students' physical health, communication skills and basic intellectual capacity is sufficient to reasonably assure their satisfactory completion of all program requirements and to function as an effective Montessori teacher.

C. Evaluation

Criteria for successful completion of each segment of the curriculum and for graduation shall be given in advance to each student. Evaluation systems shall reasonably relate to the objectives and competencies described in the curriculum and include an on-going program of evaluation of outputs consistent with such objectives and competencies. Such evaluation shall be employed frequently enough to provide both students and program officials with timely indication of the student's progress and to serve as a reliable indicator of the effectiveness of instruction and curriculum design.

Criteria might include : An indication that a document of completion (e.g., certificate, diploma, credential, etc.) shall be issued to students only when all program requirements have been fully met. The document of completion shall specify the name of the issuing institution, date document issued, name of recipient, brief description of program content completed and any other material facts to distinguish and otherwise identify the document.

D. Guidance

Student guidance shall be available to include assisting students in understanding and observing program policies and practices.

Criteria might include : Informing students of procedures for resolving grievances and unfavorable evaluations. Requirement that grievance procedures and policies are equitable, comprehensive and offer timely resolution.

V. Operational Policies

A. Fair Practices

1. Announcements and advertising must accurately reflect the program offered.

2. Student recruitment and admission practices and faculty recruitment and employment practices shall be non-discriminatory with respect to race, color, creed, sex, age or national origin.

3. Program certification, academic credit and costs to the student shall be accurately stated and published and made known to all applicants.

4. Policies and processes for student withdrawal, dismissal, retention, attendance and refunds of tuition and fees, shall be published and made known to all applicants.

Criteria might include : Published material and recruiting personnel make only justifiable and provable claims regarding the nature of the program, occupational placement, advancement, salaries and other financial benefits relevant to Montessori teaching and applicable career fields; program statements support a commitment to integrity and ethical practices on the part of all participants; policies and procedures by which students may perform practical service work while enrolled in the program must be published and made known to all concerned; requirement that attendance and absences are recorded, minimum levels defined and that policies for make-up work are reasonable and published and have a direct relationship to content missed; suggestions for retention policy may be specifically stated; e.g., repeated failure to complete required assignments and attend classroom instructional periods of time, failure to meet minimum attendance requirements, failure to make tuition payments when due; systems of grading or evaluation of progress are clearly defined and communicated; guidance about what might be included in printed program material; e.g., purpose/objectives of the sponsoring institution, general certificate requirements, name, address and telephone number, if any, of the sponsoring institution, brief description of the curriculum and schedule, names and academic background of the faculty, tuition and fees, admission procedures and requirements, name of owner or governing body of sponsoring institution, and any other material facts about the sponsoring institution and program as are likely to affect the decision of students to enroll; requirement that status with the Council and other agencies is appropriately published.

B. Student Records

Satisfactory records shall be maintained for student admission, participation and evaluation. Evidence of program completion by graduates shall be maintained by the sponsoring institution for a reasonable period of time after graduation.

Criteria might include: Program should provide for permanence of retaining student completion documents and related evidence of participation in the event that the program and/or sponsoring institution shall discontinue operation.

VI. Program Evaluation

A. The program must have a continuing system for periodically and systematically reviewing the effectiveness of the program including a formal self-study.

B. The results of program evaluation must be appropriately reflected in review of the curriculum and other elements of the program with appropriate revision.

Criteria might include: A recommendation that program evaluation should include a continuing system for internal and external curriculum validation, including evaluation by current and former students; follow-up studies of alumni, such as employment and examination performance; and input from various groups, such as admission, curriculum and advisory committees.