Since the start of 2012, Carmel High School has been going through the year-and-a-half process of becoming reaccredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, an independent body of educators that will be visiting and reviewing our high school from March 4-6.
Every six years schools must be reaccredited by going through a year-and-a-half self-study examining every aspect of the school. This examination covers everything from the curriculum being taught to the school culture, according to CHS English teacher and WASC leader Barbra Steinberg.
According to CHS history teacher and WASC committee member Bill Schrier, “WASC accreditation is important because without accreditation, diplomas from CHS won’t be valid, and without a valid diploma, seniors won’t be able to get into college.”
The school must generate an honest self-assessment of the school’s strengths and weaknesses, and in the end produce a plan of action for the next six years, which includes goals the school wants to accomplish and how it will succeed in completing them. This is done by having five main committees and many subgroups with specifics task they must complete.
“I think there needs to be some serious reflection about where are we really and where do we want to go, and sometimes that can be an uncomfortable process,” says Tom Clifford, CHS computer teacher and head of the WASC curriculum committee.
The five main topics that the WASC process focuses on are school organization, instruction, curriculum, assessment and school culture. For each topic there is a main committee and committee leader. Within each committee there are many subcommittees. Teachers, students, parents and community members are all included in the process by participating in these subcommittees called study and home groups.
“I’m working with [Steve] Nacht and [Bill] Schrier on one of the five elements of school culture and having to write a report about what it’s about and what our future goals are,” says CHS math teacher and WASC committee member Mike Deckelmann.
After the assessment is submitted, the WASC committee reads the report then comes to visit the school for three days to verify that the assessment is honest.
When the committee from WASC comes to the school, students should be prepared to answer questions about their school experience openly and honestly. They should discuss things they like and dislike about CHS.
Students should also be aware of CHS’s Student Learning Outcomes or SLOs, which are represented by the phrase, “We are CHS,” in which C means Connected citizens, H means High level thinkers, and S means Successful individuals. Over the course of the 2012-13 school year, the SLOs will be integrated into the curriculum for the students to gain a better understanding of them.
If the committee verifies the assessment is true, the school gets WASC accredited, which means for the next six years the school and diplomas given will be valid.
“We’ve been doing some great things over the past six years at Carmel High School so I think it’s going to be a really smooth accreditation,” Steinberg says.