News 4/30/10

WASC prompts plans and goals

By Alex Folchi
News Reporter

   According to at least one teacher there is something worse than preparation of income tax paperwork.  It’s a four-letter word, said teacher Janet McHenry–or at least a four-letter acronym: WASC.
   The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is an accrediting commission for high schools and colleges in the Western United States of America, Guam, American Samoa, and other small Pacific countries.  WASC is the commission that accredits LHS as a high school, and this year the past six-year accreditation period will be over.  WASC aims to make sure schools meet an acceptable level of quality.  Because of this, officials at LHS are now taking the necessary steps to become accredited for what they hope will be the next six years.  Teachers Caleb Dorsey and Dino Marinoni are in charge of this process.
   Dorsey and Marinoni at this point are preparing the yearly report required by WASC, a report reflecting on the last six years and a written plan for the next six years to improve LHS as a whole.
   These reports are all based on progress and the idea of setting and reaching goals.  These goals may be in a variety of different areas including academics, leadership (from student body all the way to the superintendent), facilities and even community support.
   This year Dorsey and Marinoni, along with many other individuals, are establishing “critical areas.”
   Critical areas are areas within the school setting the need to be improved.  This year the three critical areas of need are: attendance, mathematics and literacy.  Now that these areas have been established, a series of action plans will be set forth in order to help these critical areas improve.
   Every high school must accredited by some commission, so it is important to follow the WASC guidelines for improvement.  Although LHS has continually received a six-year accreditation, some schools do not receive that because their reports are not thorough enough or because they do not set and reach enough goals.
   Some schools may also receive a six-year accreditation but with a visit from WASC during year three.  Below that step is usually either a three-, two-, or one-year extension to their accreditation.  It is important for all schools to understand that there is always room for improvement.  If some high school is successful in all areas of the school setting, they still must establish critical areas and strive to meet them in the following years in order to extend their accreditation.
   The process that LHS is in right now should involve many “stakeholders” in the community, including students, their parents, teachers, other staff members and community members.  Stakeholders are influential in establishing critical need areas within the school as well as thinking of ways to take action to help these areas of need improve.


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