All California public and private schools undergo an accreditation process. This process basically serves the following:
1. Assures the school community that the school’s purposes are appropriate and being accomplished through a viable educational program.
2. Gives the school the necessary legitimacy as well as the prestige to function accordingly.
3. Assists the school to manage change through self study.
The group in charge of this process in our geographic region is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). It is WASC’s consistent purpose to professionally support schools in creating for themselves a clear vision of what they desire their students to know and be able to do and then to ensure that efficient and relevant systems are in place that predictably result in the fulfillment of those expectations for every child.
The protocol utilized by WASC Accrediting Commission for Schools to accredit schools is called Focus on Learning. The basic concepts inherent to the Focus on Learning concentrate upon student success in meeting the Expected School-wide Learning Results – ESLRs. These concepts are:
1. How are the students doing with respect to the expected school-wide learning results and curricular standards?
2. Is the school doing everything possible to support high achievement of these results for all its students?
The accreditation process is a cycle of assessment, planning, implementing, monitoring, and reassessment. A typical WASC accreditation process is comprised of six years as follows:
1) Student/Community Profile update, 1st year Progress Report, Refinement of the Action Plan
2) Student/Community Profile update, 2nd year Progress Report, Refinement of the Action Plan
3) Student/Community Profile update, Midterm Progress Report, or Midterm Visit
4) Student/Community Profile update, 4th year Progress Report, Refinement of the Action Plan
5) Preparation of Self-Study:
a) Assignment of WASC Leadership Team
b) Assignment of Student/Community Profile Committee
c) Assignment of Home Groups and Focus Groups
d) Extensive review of all data
e) Preparation and adoption of Student/Community Profile
f) Review and adoption of new ESLRs
6) Self Study and Preparation of Six Year Progress Report
a) Study and assessment of the student programs with respect to the WASC criteria.
b) Preparation and adoption of the Self-Study Report
c) Final adoption of the Action Plan
d) Visit of the WASC Accreditation Team
e) Refinement of the Action Plan based on Visiting Team’s suggestions
During the Self Study process the following tasks are achieved:
1. Preparation of the Student/Community Profile
2. Refinement and adoption of the school’s purpose or the ESLRs
3. Preparation of the six year progress report based on previous Action Plans
4. Preparation of the Self-Study Report. Using the WASC Criteria and ESLRs
a) Analyze the quality of the school program
b) Synthesize and summarize the findings
c) Determine aligned strengths and growth needs
5. Create a comprehensive Action Plan that will drive achievement of the ESLRs and will establish an ongoing follow-up process to monitor implementation and accomplishment of the Action Plan.
The school’s self study is based on five key components or principles. Through the completion of the accreditation process, the school will have accomplished:
1. The involvement and collaboration of the school stakeholders in the self-study
2. The clarification of the school’s purpose and the ESLRs
3. The assessment of the actual student program and its impact on student learning with respect to the criteria and the expected school-wide learning results.
4. The development of a school-wide action plan that integrates subject area/program and support plans to address identified growth needs.
5. The development and implementation of an accountability system for monitoring the accomplishment of the action plan.