NEASC Accreditation Committee welcomed at WHS reception
Weston High School hosts the NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) Accreditation Committee October 16-19, 2011. For the past year, our school community has been involved in evaluating ways in which Weston High School meets NEASC Standards for Accreditation. Sixteen educators from Massachusetts and New Hampshire are assessing our self-study and conducting their own on-site research as they prepare their evaluation.
On Sunday, October 16, 2011, our visitors were welcomed by the school community at a reception in their honor. Faculty, parents, and students were on hand to meet the committee members, who enjoyed delicious food provided by the Weston High School PTO and wonderful music performed by a student string quartet and a student jazz trio.
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Read more about the NEASC accreditation process below:
I. An Introduction to the NEASC
II. The Seven Standards
III. 21st Century Learning Expectations
IV. Report Completion
V. Committee Visit
VI. Preliminary Feedback
VII. Final Report
Review the critical strengths and needs identified by the WHS Steering Committee for the NEASC Visit as presented by Anthony Parker to the PTO Parent Education Forum on October 20, 2011.
An Introduction to the NEASC
In 2008, Principal Parker formed a committee at WHS to prepare for its accreditation process by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). According to Mr. Parker, “The committee’s challenge is to consider ways for WHS to remain excellent over the next decade by re-examining priorities and to concretely re-imagine Weston High School as a place where students can prepare to face the challenges of a new and changing global reality.”
Public schools in the United States are managed locally, and, with the exception of the relatively recent implementation of national standards testing, operate with considerable independence. For guidance, educators may rely on one of six private, non-profit regional accrediting associations that offer programs and services to monitor school performance and guide school improvement efforts. Weston High School falls within the jurisdiction of the NEASC and seeks accreditation by NEASC as a measure of its effectiveness as an educational institution.
NEASC is scheduled to evaluate WHS in October 2011 against a set of seven standards, which are reviewed and revised, as necessary, every five years. According to the NEASC, “The Standards for Accreditation are a research-based set of practices and concepts that provide guidance to schools on all aspects of the education -- academic, civic, and social -- of the young people under their care.”
Aside from the recognition achieved by accreditation, the process itself is also important. WHS must conduct a self-evaluation of its programs, engaging administrators and faculty members in intense self-reflection, leadership and pedagogical debate. A visiting committee from the NEASC will then review and, hopefully, confirm the self-evaluation, assess the school’s educational goals, and evaluate the system’s adherence to the standards.
To lead the effort, Principal Anthony Parker appointed Lisa Alcock from the English Department and Kathy Baker from the Foreign Language Department. Ms. Alcock and Ms. Baker head a steering committee of six, comprising administrators and teachers, who will oversee the process and manage the NEASC visit. Seven faculty members are each responsible for assessing the high school in terms of one of the seven NEASC standards.
The Standards teams plan to complete one report per month. Then the faculty comments upon and approves the report’s conclusions. They have just completed a report on Standard 7: “Community Resources for Learning” in November. The final complete self-evaluation is expected to be published by the summer of 2011.
This is the first of a series of articles meant to keep the public apprised of the school’s progress in this process. Principal Parker expects to share key conclusions from the seven reports with the public during the course of the year. The public will also be invited to be part of the preparations for the NEASC’s visit in October, which will begin in the spring of 2011. The NEASC’s final verdict on accreditation is expected by early 2012.
Please contact Principal Parker for further information.
NEASC High School Accreditation Process-Seven Standards
Weston High School is in the process of its self-evaluation for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation. This is Part II of a series of updates on how WHS is preparing for this recognition.
The major expectation for schools is that they have defined educational goals for the twenty-first century and have a strategy for meeting those goals. Identifying a set of core values is the first step in this process. The NEASC has identified seven standards against which schools must evaluate themselves. The following Weston faculty members are leading evaluation committees for each of these standards:
1. Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations- Janet Kresl-Moffat
2. Curriculum -John Monz
3. Instruction- Robin Wanosky
4. Assessment of and for Student Learning -Cort Mathers
5. School Culture and Leadership -Richard Brissette
6. School Resources for Learning- Maryann Shea
7. Community Resources for Learning -Danielle Cooper
Throughout this year, these evaluators will produce reports, which the faculty will review and approve and which will be incorporated into a full report to submit to NEASC. The plan is to complete the reports as follows:
Submit to Editor for Finalization
In October, 2011, representatives from NEASC will visit Weston High School, meet with all members of the high school faculty and staff along with other stakeholders, review the Self-Evaluation, and assess their findings relative to the accreditation standards.
So far, a major theme in Weston has been the importance of faculty student advisors to supplement the relationship between guidance counselors and students. School-wide rubrics are also an important big idea. Students will be expected to perform well on certain skills across disciplines. For example, effective writing will be assessed in every department, not just English.
Weston’s NEASC Co-Chairs Kathy Baker and Lisa Alcock noted the value in this period of self-study. “This process is an opportunity for us to reflect upon what we do and to consider how to better meet the needs of our students as they tackle the challenges of the 21st century,” explains Baker.
“Among the skills students will need are the abilities to communicate and to collaborate effectively,” Alcock added. “Also important will be the ability to think globally while remaining committed to serving their local communities.”
Once these reports are completed, the committee will reach out to the school community to begin planning for the NEASC visit in the Fall. We will discuss this planning in Part III of our series of updates on the NEASC Accreditation Process.
NEASC High School Accreditation Process-21st Century Learning Expectations
This is Part III in a series of features explaining Weston High School’s process of self-evaluation for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation.
Among the new elements in NEASC standards is the expectation that New England public high schools will help students develop 21st Century Skills. These skills are not defined by NEASC; schools are expected to develop their own definitions of such skills. As such, the Weston High School faculty developed “21st Century Learning Expectations” to define the skills and, therefore, the objectives for excellence in teaching and learning at the high school for years to come.
At a High School PTO Parent Education Forum in February, 2011, Principal Parker reviewed the skills included in this list:
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving - In any subject, students should be able to make complex interpretations, evaluate their options and choose from among them by using analysis, reasoning, questioning and reflective thinking. Essential to these activities is the ability to incorporate original or creative ideas.
Initiative, Resiliency and Personal Responsibility - Students must learn to manage their time, take personal responsibility for their education and take calculated risks in order to approach an increasingly unpredictable world
Collaboration, Leadership and Community Engagement - Humans are essentially social animals who are most productive when they listen to others and keep their minds open to new ideas, while at the same time they demonstrate leadership by maintaining their personal commitment to contribute responsibly to the group.
Effective Oral and Written Communication –These remain fundamental skills regardless of the medium.
Global Awareness -Individuals must be aware of and sensitive to the dynamics and characteristics of groups of individuals and communities that include nations.
Effective and Appropriate use of Media and Technology –The pace of obsolescence of the tools used to gain knowledge and enhance productivity is quickening. Education must leverage evolving technology as long as it contributes to the educational process. Students are ahead of adults in many regards but they also need to learn how to manage these resources.
WHS has begun to pilot school-wide rubrics that address these 21st Century Learning Expectations. The rubrics that we currently are piloting target writing skills, creativity and public speaking.
NEASC High School Accreditation Process-Report Completion
Weston High School is in the process of its self-evaluation for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation. The major expectation for schools is that they have defined educational goals for the twenty-first century and have a strategy for meeting those goals. This is Part IV of a series of updates on the process.
Teachers Lisa Alcock and Kathy Baker have been leading Weston High School’s self evaluation team. The committee is on schedule to complete reports on the school’s essential strengths and needs based on seven standards:
Standards and Committee Chairs:
Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations- Janet Kresl-Moffat:
Curriculum -John Monz
Instruction- Robin Wanosky
Assessment of and for Student Learning -Cort Mathers
School Culture and Leadership -Richard Brissette
School Resources for Learning- Maryann Shea
Community Resources for Learning -Danielle Cooper
Once the individual reports are completed and reviewed by the Administration, Ms. Alcock and Ms. Baker, along with the Steering Committee, will summarize the school’s overall strengths and needs. Two summer professional development workshops on school-wide rubrics and student advisories, respectively, have been planned based on some of the findings in Weston High School’s self-study. The final report will be finalized for the visiting committee over the summer.
School-wide rubrics have been developed to provide a template for universal speech, writing and creativity goals for students. Teachers across the curriculum are currently piloting the rubrics. The goal is to establish common expectations for students in these key skill areas. The steering committee will gather feedback from teachers and students on the pilots at the end of the school year to help the Administration finalize the rubrics and develop an implementation plan for the coming school year.
Also during the summer, teachers will discuss piloting student advisories next year. Teachers would be assigned a cluster of students to provide guidance that will supplement the Guidance Department’s support. Similar to collegiate advisory systems, Weston High School’s advisory program will ensure that all students have a member of the faculty who knows them well.
Finally, the NEASC team will soon begin planning for the NEASC visit in October. The visiting committee will spend four days in Weston, beginning on Sunday, October 16. The anticipated 15-member committee will meet parents, teachers, administrators and students. There will be an opening event featuring a panel of students and teachers, a tour of facilities, and interviews with individual teachers. The PTO will host a reception for the visit committee to meet parents and the public. Monday through Wednesday, visiting committee members will shadow students to observe classes and the community culture, as well as visit classes independently. The NEASC will provide their final report in April 2012.
While the high school faculty and administration have been occupied with creating the self-evaluation reports, parents and students, many of whom contributed to a survey for the self-study, will soon begin to participate in the process again. It is a major endeavor for the district, serving to keep the system moving forward in preparing students appropriately for our changing world.
"Reflecting on what we do and why we do it is essential for teachers, yet often elusive, given our busy schedules. In this case, we have an entire school collaborating to reflect and to consider ways to improve on our work with students. As a result of an entire school's collaboration, we have many good ideas for making worthwhile changes to our ways of teaching," Lisa Alcock explained.
Kathy Baker agreed, noting that "central to those changes are efforts to build 21st Century skills. As adults, our students need to be creative, collaborative, articulate, and flexible. This process has helped us find ways to change our ways of teaching in order to prepare them well for the future."
NEASC High School Accreditation Process- Committee Visit
Weston High School has been preparing all year for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) to visit and complete their evaluation of our school for re-accreditation. This is Part V of a series of reports on the process. A final report will be posted once the NEASC makes their final evaluation.
Weston High Schools teachers Lisa Alcock and Kathy Baker have been working with parents Alice Benson, Katie Phaneuf, Doreen Shytle, and Jessica Pohl to plan a full day of activity at Weston High School on Sunday, October 16, when an accreditation team for the NEASC begins a four-day evaluation.
The first two of the four days will involve tours, interviews, a panel discussion, and a reception, all of which will involve faculty, staff, students and parents. The committee will be considering a self-study report completed by the Weston High School faculty. The faculty rated Weston High School “acceptable” for four out of seven standards: core values, beliefs and learning expectations; curriculum, instruction; assessment; and school resources for learning. The faculty rated Weston High School “exemplary” for community resources for learning and “limited” for school culture leadership due to lack of an advisory system and a dearth of heterogeneous classes.
“Weston High School’s evaluation year is always at the start of a new cycle of expectations. Our self-evaluation has resulted in some exciting changes that offer opportunities for growth,” NEASC Steering Committee Co-Chair Lisa Alcock explained. “We are moving forward with 21st century learning expectations that are now being assessed through school-wide rubrics. We are also working on our version of a NEASC requirement for advisories.”
“School-wide rubrics help students because the concepts and language are consistent across disciplines,” Baker explained. “Advisories ensure that students have multiple adults who can directly support them throughout their time at Weston High School.”
There are roles for parents and students to help during the accreditation visit. Principal Anthony Parker will be sending out email notices for volunteers.
“This accreditation process has been successful because everyone has taken it up as an opportunity to make an excellent school even more excellent,” said Parker. All members of the school community, including faculty, staff, parents and students are invited to greet the NEASC accreditation committee on Sunday, October 16 from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. in the Weston High School cafeteria.
NEASC High School Accreditation Process- Preliminary Feedback
This is Part VI in a series of features describing the accreditation process for Weston High School. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) visited Weston High School October 16-19, 2011 for the purpose of evaluating our teaching and learning for re-accreditation. This process occurs every ten years and involves students, faculty, staff and parents. Beginning in 2009, a team of faculty members, led by English teacher, Lisa Alcock, and Spanish teacher, Kathy Baker, engaged in self-evaluation and the creation of self-defined objectives, culminating in faculty-led reports on seven areas of interest and proposals for pilot projects to achieve these objectives. Summer workshops were held to begin implementing these pilots as well as to prepare the logistics of the NEASC Accreditation Committee’s visit.
The Committee’s final report is expected in January 2012. In the meantime, in the wrap-up of their visit, the NEASC Committee largely concurred with the WHS reports and recommendations. This was gratifying for the team that worked so hard on objectively critiquing the school’s strengths and weaknesses. The following summarizes the WHS team’s assessment:
Our critical strengths included the clear identification of core values that guide our school’s activities and decision making; a responsive administration, faculty and staff in meeting the needs and desires of students; authentic learning opportunities that incorporate activities, field trips and other experiential learning projects; regular teacher meetings to discuss curriculum and instructional strategies; regular means of support for students who are not finding success; and others.
Our critical needs include continued support for professional development to support core values and 21st century learning expectations; more time and resources for collaboration among faculty; technological training for faculty; a formal process to identify and address inequities in student achievement; and more.
Thanks must be extended to the Weston High School PTO for orchestrating the logistics of the Committee’s visit, which began with a welcoming reception on Sunday, October 16, in the Cafeteria. WHS put its best foot forward with delicious refreshments and musical entertainment by our own student string quartet and jazz trio. The Committee then spent very productive days shadowing students and meeting individually and in small groups with students, teachers, administrators and staff, to understand our school culture and practices. All this was achieved with an efficiency that reflected very well on our school.
NEASC High School Accreditation Process- Final Report
This is Part VII and the final in a series of features describing the accreditation process for Weston High School by The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). This summarizes the highlights of the commendations and recommendations in the seven dimensions of effective education that are detailed in the NEASC’s final report. See the full report.
Core Values and Beliefs
WHS is commended for its process for developing a set of core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations as well as measurable learning expectations that are evident throughout the building and school culture.
NEASC recommends completing school-wide rubrics for all 21st century learning expectations and continuing to work on awareness and implementation of these expectations.
WHS is commended for effectively delivering its curriculum through faculty knowledge, professional development, course design, financial resource and regular curriculum review.
NEASC recommends developing a standard curriculum format for all courses with more opportunities for interdisciplinary planning between and among curriculum areas.
WHS is commended for helping students learn through the analysis of formative assessments and other information and for the numerous and varied opportunities for faculty members to maintain expertise in their content area and in-content specific practices.
NEASC recommends that all instructional practices consistently reflect the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations, including greater use of common planning time for examining student work and increased opportunities for students to self-assess and reflect on their work.
WHS is commended for the accessibility of The Enrichment Center (TEC) to all students at Weston High School, course specific rubrics and clear learning expectations in individual courses; and the use of a wide range of assessment strategies; student feedback on courses.
NEASC recommends a formal process to assess school-wide and individual student progress; clear communication of expectations and consistent grading practices aligned among courses and with the school’s 21st century learning expectations.
School Culture and Leadership
WHS is commended for its equitable, inclusive and supportive school culture and a schedule that allows teachers to collaborate with colleagues and meet individually with students.
NEASC recommends a formal on-going program through which each student has an adult in the school, in addition to the school guidance counselor, who knows the student.
School Resources for Learning
WHS is commended for its library resources, programs and space; its strong health services program; its technology program and educational support for students with special needs.
NEASC recommends a program to address the needs of high-risk students and improved communication of available services, especially for these students.
Community Resources for Learning
WHS is commended for the overwhelming community support which provides dependable funding for a wide-range of programs for students, including support for METCO students.
NEASC recommends funding counseling supports for students with emotional needs and substance abuse challenges and developing a comprehensive crisis or emergency plan.
See the Final Report
Feel free to contact Lisa Alcock, Kathy Baker, or Principal Anthony Parker for further information
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) provides accreditation for preK through doctoral levels of education. Emanating from high quality standards, NEASC accreditation uses self-reflection, peer review and best practices as integral components of its assessment process and monitors the follow-up endeavors leading to continuous school/program improvement.