Thursday, February 4, 2016

WASC updates on school board agenda tonight

(Originally published in the 2/4/16 edition)

   The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will hear reports from Liberty and Benicia High School regarding Western Association of Schools and Colleges visits at tonight’s meeting.
   WASC is an academic organization responsible for the accreditation of K-12 schools and public and private universities. If a school is accredited, it meets the standards of academic excellence and validates the school’s integrity.
   “Accreditation is integral to a school’s perpetual cycle of assessment, planning, implementation, monitoring and reassessment based upon student achievement,” WASC’s website states. “It fosters excellence in elementary, secondary, adult and postsecondary education by encouraging school improvement through a process of continuing evaluation and to recognize, by accreditation, schools that meet an acceptable level of quality in accordance with established criteria.”
   Assistant Superintendent Marie Morgan will be leading the discussion on the progress of both schools’ reports. Liberty completed its accreditation earlier in the year, and Benicia High is currently in the middle of its cycle. 
   JoAnn Severson, the principal of Liberty High, will be sharing the final written report including the recommendations the school received by WASC representatives. Liberty staff were pleased to learn the school will be accredited through 2019, and it met the one to one computing standard with three new Chromebook carts for students. Staff was also commended for providing a “positive, caring, peaceful family atmosphere” and a “true alternative educational setting,” according to a Power Point presentation put together by Severson. The principal will also be spotlighting a grant the school received from Solano County Association of Realtors which will be used to create a vocal group made up of 18 to 20 female Liberty students. 
   Additionally, there will be a Power Point on Benicia High’s mid-cycle visit report. The report will include new community profile information and demographic data as well as implications of that data, address significant changes and developments, describe ongoing school improvement and progress on critical areas for follow-up and go over how the current action plan has evolved from the previous action plan as well as what work still needs to be done. 
   Benicia High will be hosting a WASC accreditation team on Monday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 8 as a follow-up to the school’s 2013 visit from WASC. The WASC committee will be co-coordinated by social science teachers Stacy Starkweather and Sadie O’Neill, who have administered staff focus groups in being able to disaggregate data and collect evidence to support site goals and action items. 
   In other business, Bond Oversight Committee Chair Ellen Blaufarb will present the annual 2014-2015 report from the Bond Oversight Committee, and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Gardner will be highlighting teachers of the year and classified personnel of the year from across the district.
   The board will meet at 7 p.m. tonight in the Benicia Unified School District Board Room at the district building on 350 East K Street. There will be an earlier closed session at 5:30 p.m.


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