An interesting event occurred at Clovis High School during this past school year. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, commonly known as NCA CASI, or NCA, came to visit, and not just any visit. The NCA is an organization made up of colleges, universities, and schools from across the country, for educational accreditation and school improvement.
The associated entity that handles the accreditation process of pre-kindergarten-12th grade schools is AdvanceEd. According to AdvancED, accreditation is “a set of rigorous protocols and research-based processes for evaluating an institution’s organizational effectiveness … examining the whole institution (programs, cultural context, community of stakeholders) to determine how well the parts work together to meet the needs of students.”
Particularly important to note, this accreditation process is an elective procedure for schools that voluntarily seek to examine and improve themselves. This rigorous process requires a lot of above-and-beyond effort on the part of school staff when undergoing the arduous process of preparation. The standards that AdvancED adheres to include: Purpose and Direction; Governance and Leadership; Teaching and Assessing for Learning; Resources and Support Systems; and Using Results for Continuous Improvement.
As you can imagine, the preparation is a long and drawn-out process and decidedly a team effort. I took advantage of sitting in on the CHS presentation to the five-member AcvandED team of examiners when they came to Clovis for their on-site examination.
Wayne Marshall, CHS principal, opened the presentation. Contributing fellow presenters were Kevin Wiseman, assistant principal; Pam Cornelison, counselor; and Shawn Carter and Doug Everhart, teachers. The CHS team presented a comprehensive picture of Clovis High School, from standard practices, such as embedding literacy across all academic content; focusing on “close” reading strategies to improve comprehension; standardizing CHS classrooms so that the focus, objective, activity, and standards align, with students actively engaged in rigorous lessons. The CHS team also shared strategies they’d incorporated to improve attendance and help students through targeted interventions. They shared information about the various programs that provide students with professional certifications to be ready for the work force upon leaving school. In fact, they covered a great deal more than space permits.
Following upon the presentation, the AdvancED five-member team spent the next few days with stakeholders in the process. This included formal and informal meetings with teachers, parents, students and community members as well as extensive observations in CHS classrooms.
Highest marks were received in the categories of “Supportive Learning Environment; Active Learning Environment; and Well-Managed Learning Environment.” CHS was commended — termed “powerful practices” by AdvancED — on the school-wide open-door policy; collaboration; standardized classrooms and uniform lesson plans and grading; and support of extra-curricular programs. CHS was encouraged to provide more access to technology.
Most importantly, CHS received its NCA Accreditation!
Aside from the extra effort required to undergo such an in-depth process of evaluation, it also takes a great deal of courage to take that long look in the mirror with the express purpose of self-improvement.
Our thanks and congratulations go to those brave educators at CHS.
Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org