A team of WASC evaluators made of teachers and administrators throughout California will be coming to WHS from Oct. 1-4 to assess the learning environments in classrooms and around campus, ultimately deciding whether or not WHS is meeting standards.
“WASC comes to visit us every few years to make sure we are staying on track in the way we help, educate, and prepare students for college and careers,” said biology teacher Sophie State, a WASC coordinator. “When they come, we’re trying to show them all the amazing things that we’re doing and to also learn about the ways we can improve.”
WASC stands for Western Association of Schools and Colleges; it is one of six renowned regional accrediting agencies in the United States that gives schools valid accreditation based on a long series of checkups that occur every six years.
“Schools have to be accredited for people to go to college,” said Vice Principal Nicole Judd. “Colleges want to know that students have attended a school accredited by WASC.”
Last year, WHS prepared for WASC’s arrival by having teachers and administrators walk around campus to observe different classrooms. During CPT, they used their observations to discuss potential improvements that could be made to enhance the way students learn.
“Teachers took different roles and groups in brainstorming and writing the whole WASC report during CPT,” said Judd. “We tried to mix up groups to make them even and get an accurate representation of our school.”
WHS WASC members have noticed the increases in students’ grades brought about by the programs designed to help those who are struggling in their classes.
“We looked at… the different [Career Technical Education] pathway classes that WHS is trying to bring to help those students,” said WASC student representative Jennie Rao ‘18. “We saw statistically that less students are on the D and F line, which is good because it shows improvement and that teachers are trying to interact with students to elevate their grades.”
Despite the successes prompted by WHS’s changing curriculum, there are still improvements that need to be made.
“As a school, we came up with three things we need to improve on,” said State. “First,…we want to continue to find ways to support students who are struggling in college prep classes… so they can access the things we already have like the science center. Second,…we want to provide more… chances for teachers to collaborate. Third,…we want to provide opportunities for all of our classes to have career education.”
The objective for the upcoming appraisal is to get a six-year clear and a three-year follow-up from the WASC visitors. The six-year clear indicates that the evaluated school needs “little… support for high-quality student learning and the implementation, monitoring and accomplishment of the schoolwide action plan, including the identified critical areas for follow-up,” according to the WASC explanation of the accreditation status.
“WASC wants to know how we are serving our students and form a report to see if we are accomplishing our student learning objectives,” said Judd. “If this doesn’t happen, the WASC team will come back in two years to re-evaluate.”
State reassures students not to worry about the approaching evaluation. Rather, all they have to do is continue being themselves.
“Students just need to be here at school and show that they’re the amazing students that they are,” said State with an encouraging smile. “It’s not like we want students to be someone they’re not normally. We want to show the people visiting us exactly who we are.”