WASC Team Evaluates Miramonte High

Sophia Bollag

During the week of March 21st, a group of evaluators from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) visited Miramonte to evaluate the school and assess whether or not it deserves to be accredited as a legitimate high school.

According to Principal Adam Clark, having a WASC accreditation is essential to any school in California. “It validates our transcripts and our diplomas and our program, and it means that when a college gets a transcript from a student who has graduated from Miramonte they know that it’s authentic,” he said.

“We went through a self study,” said Clark, “and then we put together a report with all of our data, all of our test results, grades, student information, teacher information; everything that Miramonte is all about.”
Junior Meghan Colwell had worked on the WASC committee at Miramonte since the beginning of the year. The committee, made up of teachers, students, and administrators, evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the school. “Everything we prepared over the year was compiled into a report,” she said.

After Miramonte’s strengths and weaknesses had been identified “we put together an action plan,” said Clark.“We said, these are areas where we’re going to grow, and this is how we’re going to get there, and this is who is responsible for that.”

All this information was submitted to the WASC team for review.

“The WASC committee read the report, then came out to validate what we said we were doing,” said Clark. “Then they sent a report of their findings to us and to the state of California. Within the state of California, they have another team that reviews the WASC team’s findings and then they kind of give us a grade. We actually won’t find out our grade until May or June.”

This “grade” will determine the number of years, either one, three or six, that Miramonte will be an accredited high school before another WASC evaluation is required. Miramonte typically receives the maximum length of accreditation, six years, though it has received three-year accreditations in the past.

“We’re waiting to hear back at this point,” said Clark. “I don’t think they’ll be back next year. I would hope for a six year clear. However, I wouldn’t be all that disappointed with a three-year checkup because the evaluation process was actually a really good process to go through.”

Although the state of California has yet to determine Miramonte’s level of accreditation, the WASC team has released their report about Miramonte. The report identifies what it calls “Areas of Strength” for Miramonte, including “a wide variety of activities available to students that promote a positive school climate,” “a strong and supportive community,” “a strong academic program,” “extended library hours,” “before and after school tutoring,” “very high student expectations,” that the “principal and his administrative staff are accessible, visible and committed to school improvement efforts,” “caring and dedicated classified staff and support teams,” and “dedicated, experienced and stable teaching staff.” At the closing meeting on Wednesday, March 23, when the WASC evaluators summarized their findings in a PowerPoint presented to teachers and administrators, they also praised students for being friendly and dedicated.

“I had one kid actually high-five me,” one of the evaluators said.

The report also identifies Miramonte’s weaknesses and gives suggestions on how to improve. For example, the report suggests that Miramonte “redefine [its] approach to the Wednesday schedule to formalize collaboration.”

“Instead of us just getting together and informally discussing topics and ideas, they really want us to formalize that and really lay-out what we’re doing at all of those meetings,” said Clark.
Additionally, “they want us to create some common assessments that are consistent for each course and want our teachers to work together to make sure that all of our students are having the same opportunities to be successful in classes,” said Clark. “They also encourage the use of Blackboard to its fullest capacity to improve grade transparency.”