The Western Associate of Schools and Colleges (WASC) mid-cycle revisit committee came to Oak Park High School to review the school on March 12.
According to Principal Kevin Buchanan, the WASC mid-cycle revisit is where a group of educators come to the high school to ensure OPHS is working to meet the goals they have set.
WASC is responsible for accrediting schools all across the state.
“When you have a diploma, your diploma means nothing, it’s just a piece of paper, if your [school is] not accredited by WASC,” revisit team chair Jarret Gold said. “Every school, every six years, goes through this process, and within those six years, sometimes schools get a revisit after three years, to make sure you’re meeting all your goals set forth.”
Gold said there is a specific process used when determining if a school has or has not met their goals.
“We meet with a student group, we meet with a parent group, we meet with all department chairs [and] administration, and we take all that information and we put it into one document that we submit to WASC with our recommendation of recommendations and accolades in regards to areas of strength and areas of growth,” Gold said.
When the WASC team last came to the high school, four goals were created for future WASC review.
“Goal one was to increase the relevance of the curriculum, some of that was CTE, and adding real-world experiences to the curriculum. Goal two was alleviating student stress, which we are doing a lot of things for,” Buchanan said. “Goal three was more of an internal goal to work on our formal decision-making processing, by making sure we are memorializing all of our decisions. Goal four had to do with professional development, making sure our new teachers are being supported and our current teachers are sharing the information with departments that they gather at conferences and trainings.”
According to the OPUSD Annual Goals document, the goals have specific steps that must be taken. These goals include examining AP and Honors prerequisites, hosting a “Wellness Day” to promote physical and mental health, educating parents, staff, and students through website videos on school safety procedures, creating experiential learning opportunities with creativity and innovation spaces at all levels and more.
These goals are integral to maintaining a school’s status, and to send a message to community members that the school is trustworthy, and working to improve upon their shortcomings.
“Initially, the [visiting team] planned on having a leadership meeting at the end of the school day to conduct any follow up that might be necessary, but, Dr. Jarrett Gold met with me to review the team’s findings and also to let me know that an afternoon meeting would not be necessary given how their day had transpired,” Buchanan wrote in a message to Oak Park parents on ParentSquare. “He shared with me a draft of their final report and indicated that the team will be making the recommendation to WASC Commission that our accreditation is affirmed for the remainder of this cycle until 2022.”