WLHS awaits accreditation by Advanced Ed

Papers have piled, passed and shuffled across administration desks in West Linn High School as it nears its accreditation date.  Accreditation, a process conducted by the organization Advanced Ed, evaluates Oregon schools on a five-year cycle to ensure that they are academically sound.  Evaluators who are working with Advanced Ed are set to arrive on Wednesday, Dec. 4 to observe WLHS classrooms.

“The visitation should be fun, really,” Lou Bailey, principal, said.  “The fun for me is showing people, ‘come see what we do here.’  We’re very proud of what we do here.  I think students are very proud to go to school here.”

The accreditation process not only involves a day of evaluation by accreditors, but also student, parent and teacher surveys.  Student surveys were administered in early September; 50 percent of WLHS parents reportedly responded to the parent surveys.

While both the parent and student surveys required around 20 minutes to fill out, teachers completed a four-hour evaluation involving five categories and 38 subcategories called “indicators.”  Such indicators concern the subjects of learning, teaching quality and classroom dynamics.  In their evaluations, teachers had to rate themselves on each indication and provide explanations.

“Self-evaluating and thinking about how things run in the building, giving a score and being committed to making sure you’re giving accurate scores [were the hardest parts of the evaluation],” Erin O’Malley, world language teacher, said.  “The easiest thing is having it done and thinking about everything that we answered, and then starting to know the areas that we have to work on building as a staff.”

The process of gathering evaluations, averaging scores and sending the final paperwork to Advanced Ed is a began in WLHS during  late August and ended on the due date of Nov. 4.  The project has taken hundreds of cumulative hours by staff.

“I don’t think we’re in any danger of not being accredited,” Bailey said.  “I think for us, it’s not about worrying about ‘are we’ or ‘aren’t we.’  I think the question for us is, ‘where are they going to tell us to get better?’ ”

As the Dec. 4 date advances, staff are both excited and apprehensive for evaluation.  O’Malley won’t conduct her classroom any differently; Administrators feel similarly.

“My message to staff is, whatever you were gonna do on December 4th, do on December 4th.  Just keep doing your thing,” Bailey said.  “We don’t need to do a dog-and-pony-show.  We don’t need to roll out the red carpet.  If you’re having a test on that day, have a test on that day.  Just do business as normal.”