WASC accreditation benefits California K-12 schools

Guest Column by Barry Groves

February 3, 2020
Barry Groves.
More than 2,700 of California’s public schools at all levels are now accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. ACSA has been a collaborative partner with WASC in the continuous improvement process of school accreditation since its inception. School accreditation is a peer-review, member-driven process that focuses on student learning. Listed below are a few of the reasons why schools choose to be accredited.  The University of California system requires that high schools be accredited in order to establish and maintain an accreditation “A-G” course list. High schools must be fully accredited by WASC to qualify for higher education Cal Grants from the California Student Aid Commission. According to a 2017 study of 2,100 randomly selected California public high school principals, 98.3 percent agreed that the WASC accreditation cycle encourages continuous school improvement and 97.9 percent said that the WASC/CDE six-year accreditation cycle has positive effects on student learning. More than 94 percent of principals stated that WASC accreditation benefits schools by providing a process that can be used to align a comprehensive schoolwide action plan to the school’s areas of greatest need. More than 700 charter schools seek accreditation as it helps them apply for charter school building funds and certify to the public that the school is a trustworthy institution of learning. Accreditation assures a school community that the school’s purposes are appropriate and being accomplished through a viable education program. It assures that change is being managed through regular assessment, planning, implementing, monitoring and reassessment. Through a focus on continuous improvement, accreditation helps schools increase student academic achievement.   WASC is a worldwide organization with more than 5,200 member institutions. We very much appreciate our relationship with ACSA and the six ACSA representatives who sit on the WASC Commission: Grant Bennett, Perris Union High School District; Ron Carruth, El Dorado Hills High School District; Odie Douglas, Pleasanton Unified School District; Greg Franklin, Tustin Unified School District; Katherine Thorossian, Monrovia Unified School District; and Diana Walsh-Reuss, Riverside County Office of Education.  Dr. Barry Groves is president of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and an ACSA emeritus member.

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