WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington High School Principal Linda Peters told School Committee members last week that Wilmington High School has begun its reaccreditation process.
“Accreditation is actually a 10-year cycle. Our last accreditation was in 2010. We were originally scheduled for 2020, but we’ve been moved to 2021, after the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) redesigned its process and revised its standards,” announced Peters.
“The process, however, actually begins about 2.5 years before [NEASC] comes to visit the school. That’s why we’re beginning now,” further explained Peters. “We’ve begun working on the first step — a self-reflection. In doing this, we have formed two committees. We have a 10-member steering committee which oversees the process. We also have a 10-member self-reflection committee, which begins this work. Members gather input, evidence and artificants from teachers that help us write a self-reflection report that indicates how we meet each of NEASC’s five standards — learning culture, student learning, professional practices, learning support, and learning resources.”
Peters points to November 6, the district’s next Professional Development Day, as a “big day,” where the Self-Reflection Committee will spend six hours together to gather to material to pass along to the steering committee so it can right its report.
“There are five NEASC standards. Each has a foundational element,” explained Peters. “We reflect on each foundational element. We’re expected to meet each to begin the process. Each element has a number of principles attached to each. We then rate ourselves based on each of those principles.”
“Right after completing the self-reflecition report, we provide it to NEASC. They’ll send out a group of people, likely coming in the early spring, for a ‘collaborative conference visit,’ where they’ll interview teachers and visit classrooms,” said Peters. “Those NEASC members will help us write an improvement plan based on what they see and what our self-reflection reports says. They will gather information about the school’s current conditions, ensure the foundational elements are in place, and validate the school’s chosen priority areas for growth.”
The steering committee will then write a school growth plan (aka “school improvement plan”), which will be implemented two years prior to the NEASC visit in 2021.
“The Decennial visit team will be 6-8 visitors for 3-4 days [in 2021]. The focus will be on observing teaching and learning throughout the school,” explained Peters. “The team will gather evidence and provide feedback on both the school’s alignment to the principles in the standards and the school’s growth plan.”
Peters outlined the role of the faculty during the accreditation proecess, including (1) participating in faculty discussions about alignment to the standards; (2) providing evidence and feedback for the self-reflection committee; (3) reviewing and approving Part 2 of the self-reflection report; (4) providing input into the school-wide areas for growth & development of the Growth Plan; (5) implementing the Growth Plan; and (6) participating in the Collaborative Conference and Decennial Accreditation visits.”
“It’s a long progress, … but it helps us identify our strengths and become more and more innovative,” added Peters.
“[The process] helps a school community take stock of where it’s at and how to move forward,” agreed Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand.
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