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What is ACE?

The ACE acronym represents the three domains that create an interdependent and inter-related ‘Learning Eco-System’ sustained by ACE’s ten Learning Principles:

ACE: Architecture - Culture - Ecology

The underlying metaphor is that of a house, designed by thoughtful architecture, enlivened by the vibrant culture of its inhabitants, and embedded in an ecology that defines its identity in space and time.

ACE is formative by design, firmly focused on school transformation in all areas, but primarily in a learning community’s core business: Learning. The ACE process is designed to support schools on the journey from ‘foundational functionality’ as a school that offers safe, secure, sustainable services to a successful learning community that is routinely achieving transformational learning Impacts on its learners. ‘Learners’ here naturally refers to the key learning stakeholders, the students, but is also intended as an inclusive term since, in genuine learning communities, all stakeholders learn, including the organization itself.

ACE: The Learning Eco-System

The Architecture of Learning defines what learners learn, why they learn it, how they learn it, how learning is assessed and communicated, to what extent learners are able to choose their own learning, and how the learning community knows that it has achieved the desired impact on the learner. In an environment characterized by a shared understanding and language of learning, learners demonstrate qualities of mind and heart that allow them to become responsible and successful citizens. An effective learning community fosters creative and critical thinking, performance, action, and entrepreneurship. In such a community learning and creating, thinking, doing, and ‘making’ are valued equally.

The Culture of Learning defines the learning community’s beliefs about the conditions that underpin effective learning, the norms and core values to which it adheres, and the impact leadership, governance, and staff have on the learning community’s sustainability and evolution. Learning culture represents the statutory as well as unspoken agreements woven into a fabric that creates community, sustains purpose and defines direction. Transformational learning communities have designed mechanisms that support intentional and systemic reflection, research, and future-oriented thinking.

The Ecology of Learning defines the physical and social/emotional ‘space’ in which learning occurs. It encompasses the nature of relationships, interactions, and communication within the learning community that sustain its values and norms. An effective learning ecology supports and is aligned with the architecture and culture of learning. Its principles are indispensable to the achievement of the purpose for which the learning community exists. Such communities also recognize that effective learning is not necessarily a function of fixed spaces, times, or forms.

Thank you all very much for developing a new sort of outlook upon accreditation and continuous growth and development for schools. This is by far the best I have seen yet. I agree with it philosophically as an educator and would honestly only want to work at a school that is accredited through NEASC with the ACE protocol. It is a stamp not of approval, but of recognition of a vibrant learning community that wants to grow and develop to truly help prepare us all for the future.

— Shelley Love, Instructional Math Coach and Gifted Program Coordinator, The Metropolitan School of Panama