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    alexethridge

    Posts : 33
    Join date : 2009-09-03

    Front page story about WASC

    Post  alexethridge on Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:19 pm

    705 words, can be cut if necessary.


    While the rest of the student population slept soundly in their comfy beds or gallivanted off to have breakfast with friends on this month’s late start morning, storms were brewing in the classrooms across Arcadia High’s campus—brainstorms to be more specific. The minds working behind the scenes for the WASC group gathered together for the first of many meetings on Wednesday, January 13th, to find out how to make our great school even better.
    WASC, or Western Association of Schools and Colleges, is a group that makes all public schools go through a rigorous self study every six years in order to determine what type of accreditation they will receive as an institution of learning. A great school will receive an accreditation of six-years which allows them to continue teaching without mandatory assessments for another six years, while other schools of a lower caliber may require more evaluations over a lesser time period. Schools are asked to analyze various aspects of their performance, such as culture in their classrooms and the efficiency of testing, in order to ascertain which methods work well and which need to be improved on.
    “The theme of the self-study is ‘Focus on Learning,’” says History teacher and Constitutional Team advisor Mr. Kevin Fox, who heads the board of people involved in the self-study. “We are asked to highlight all the great and successful things we do to help students learn, grow, and achieve, but more importantly, the self-study is about identifying things we could be doing better.”
    Assembled to discuss the pros and cons of things such as progress reports and tardy sweeps is a board comprised of our very own teachers, administration, parents, and students. This diverse board will meet on every future late start morning of this year in different committees dedicated to analyzing specific parts of AHS’ school environment. Each committee discusses things to be improved on within their domain, and all share ideas on how to improve it. All members of committees and their subgroups are encouraged to voice their opinions in order to agree on improvements that will benefit all students rather than a few. The participation from faculty, parents, and students ensure that all perspectives are considered in the decision making to truly see it from every angle possible.
    “Are there sub-groups of students that could be doing better? Are there better ways to help students achieve their fullest potential?” Fox replied in answer to the goals of the committees. “All of these questions and many more go into the discussion teachers, administration, students, and parents are having.”
    The students chosen to possible represent the student body’s interests at WASC meetings were nominated by a small leader group comprised of Jonathan Ma, Justine Lee, Winnie Hui, and myself, Alex Ethridge. Nominees for student representatives were selected based on factors such as diverse ethnicities, extracurriculars, academic achievement, and school involvement in order to equally represent the majority of student groups on campus. Students ranging from varsity sports teams and college prep classes to club presidents and yearbook staff were nominated to become one of the twenty student reps on the WASC team.
    Wednesday’s meeting was a great success in terms of introductions and beginning the self-study process. Junior Elaine Hsiang, a nominee for the position of student representative, said, “When I first walked into the meeting, I thought WASC was just something I wouldn't really be able to help with or be interested in, but after listening to Mr. Fox and Mr. Tung explain the committee's goals and actions, I was genuinely intrigued.” The majority of students at the meeting were excited to become a part of the decision-making process at their school, and eagerly participated in the committee discussions. Ashley Golinski, a junior at the meeting, said, “It was great brainstorming with the teachers to try to improve each aspect of our school, and also interesting to personally experience their dedication.”
    The ending result of the committees’ discussions will be an extensive report and guide called a Single Plan for Student Achievement. This plan will have specific goals to reach and steps to take over the next six years, which will be the next time AHS will be asked to conduct the survey.

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