A brief explainer on the WASC accreditation process
Guest Column by Barry Groves
March 11, 2024
Since its inception in 1962, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has played a pivotal role in accrediting almost every public and private high school, as well as elementary and middle schools, across California. The foundation of WASC was significantly supported by ACSA, with a considerable number of ACSA members being integral to the commission’s formation. Today, ACSA is responsible for appointing six out of the 35 members to the WASC Commission for a term of up to six years. Notably, Ron Carruth, the 2023 ACSA Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award winner and a former WASC commissioner, has made significant contributions.
For the period 2023 through 2025, the WASC Commission is chaired by Odie Douglas, the former assistant superintendent at Pleasanton. The commission also includes other distinguished ACSA members: Katherine Thorossian (retired, superintendent of Monrovia Unified School District), Cuauhtemoc Avila (superintendent, Rialto Unified School District), Kevin Collins (assistant superintendent of Business and Operations, San Leandro Unified School District), Moohay Choe (retired, executive director of ACSA Region 16, LAUSD), Christine McCormick (associate superintendent of Educational Services, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools), and Eric Mooney (director, Secondary Education, Colton Joint Unified School District).
WASC school accreditation peer reviews are consistently carried out by professionals within the educational community. Those interested in serving on an accreditation visit, please go to the WASC website and sign up to be part of a visiting committee at www.acswasc.org/serving-on-a-visiting-committee.
Presently, WASC accredits over 5,200 schools globally, playing a crucial role in upholding educational quality and aiding schools in their ongoing pursuit of educational excellence. WASC maintains robust partnerships with key educational institutions and departments, including ACSA, the California Department of Education, California Community Colleges, California State Universities, and the University of California. WASC’s accreditation process is closely aligned with California’s School Plan for Student Improvement and the Local Plan for School Accountability.
Over the past several years, WASC has streamlined its accreditation protocols and processes in working with schools. There is now a stronger focus on analysis and less on compliance. The commission has also instituted a required analysis of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout their documents. The WASC accreditation self-study report now is limited to no more than 50 pages.
Barry Groves is the president of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and an ACSA emeritus member.
More Information
For more on WASC accreditation, look for the book “Connecting the Dots to Accreditation: Leadership, Coherence, and Continuous Improvement” authored by Barry Groves and Marilyn George.