Friday, August 3, 2007
High school accreditation involves on-going review
Two and a half years after evaluators from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the organization that accredits schools, toured the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS), administrators and faculty continue work to meet the goals stated in the 2004-05 NEASC report.
The NEASC report included 49 recommendations for improvement and the organization checks progress between full evaluations.They will drop in on the CCHS campus again in September.
After two years
NEASC reviewed CCHS's Two-Year Progress Report this past January, and continued the school's accreditation. In March, the school received a letter stating that, "The NEASC Commission was particularly pleased" to learn of recent accomplishments, including:
· Revision of the school's mission statement,
· Increased communication between the superintendents of Concord and Carlisle school districts,
· Teachers' use of professional development programs, school-wide "rubrics" and assessment results,
· Efforts to close achievement gaps,
· New co-curricular activities and the addition of several new courses for non-college bound students, as well as new offerings in aquatics and physics,
· The Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) plan detailing the need for a new high school facility,
· Use of grant monies to purchase science lab equipment,
· Additional staff in chorus, drama and arts departments,
· New foreign language lab, bleachers and increased technology throughout the school,
· Numerous student awards and recognitions,
· The monies raised by the student body to support charitable causes.
Safety improvements made
NEASC acknowledged the resolution of several of its 2004-05 recommendations, specifically: two-way communication between the office and individual classrooms, improved ventilation in science and art rooms and the installation of new fire doors and exterior doors and installation of safety cabinets for chemicals. However, the school noted that a number of the facilities, space, and health and safety concerns will not be resolved until a new high school facility is constructed.
Recent progress report
NEASC required the school to submit an additional special progress report this spring addressing primarily the school's on-going space needs and the funding for a new high school facility. In his response, Dulong notes that a new high school facility will cost roughly $100,000,000. The RSC is seeking reimbursement of costs for the new building from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) and Dulong stated, "The School Committee [RSC] has had planning meetings to discuss the various possible responses from the MSBA. Their current plan is to immediately and vigorously pursue design funds if there is a positive response from the MSBA."
New modular classrooms, offices
In the Special Progress Report, Dulong described how space needs are being addressed in the immediate future."We will be installing two temporary classrooms adjacent to CCHS and a temporary double-wide office building that will house seven offices plus meeting space The office space will alleviate the overcrowded situation that has been noted with respect to the guidance and special education area."
He also noted two new storage trailers — one for maintenance materials and one to store drama and music equipment. Also, storage cabinets have been added for chemicals in the science department, artwork and student records.
Another look at space needs
New CCHS Principal Peter Badalament has been requested to compile details about infrastructure, technology, space and furniture needs from each department head by August 30. In September, two NEASC members will visit to observe how these needs affect teaching and learning at CCHS. Badalament said that if NEASC decides the buildings' deficiencies are too great, they could issue a warning, withdrawing the school's "fully accredited" status.
Results wanted after five years
All schools are required to submit a five-year progress report, which for CCHS will be due March 1, 2009. The NEASC's March letter reminded school officials that implementation of goals should be completed or in the final stages, when the school submits its five-year report. NEASC warns that inadequate progress "could result in a request for additional progress reports, a warning or probationary status for the school."
Superintendent Brenda Finn said that good-faith efforts to address the NEASC goals will be taken into consideration by the accreditation organization. "They try to work with us and they are reasonable in terms of recognizing that some improvements are prohibitive in terms of cost," she said.
© 2007 The