School conducts WASC review

Students, teachers prepare report detailing school's curriculum and academic environment


Math teachers and WASC chairpersons Cathy Lory (left) and Robin Midiri (right) pose for a photograph. Lory and Midiri are overseeing the process by which the school receives its accreditation (Photo illustration by Akshita Dondeti/Talon).

The time has come for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges to receive a report from Oak Park High School as a part of the school’s accreditation process. The school files this report with the Accrediting Commission for Schools, one of the three WASC committees operating under the California Department of Education, every six years.

Accreditation is important because, according to the WASC website, it “validates the integrity of the school’s program and transcripts.”

“We are hoping to have the report written by Thanksgiving,” math teacher and WASC chairperson Catherine Lory said.

After the report is submitted, the Accrediting Commission for Schools will visit the school in early February to ensure that the high school is functioning both properly and efficiently. If the visitors are satisfied with what they see on campus and hear from student interviews, the school will then receive accreditation from governing agencies.

“Everyone on this campus, as well as parents, is involved in the process,” math teacher and WASC chairperson Robin Midiri said.

Midiri remarked that both she and Lory, despite being math teachers, are still “awesome writers.”

Different departments contribute to the report in “home groups.” These groups are then divided into five focus groups: instruction, curriculum, culture, assessment and organization. Each one includes teachers, staff members, parents and students.

“[I’ve been] doing a lot of the writing and data analysis for the report and organizing various faculty and student meetings,” Lory said.

Teachers, parents and staff members are currently analyzing student and staff surveys conducted in past years to formulate their content.

“I’m part of the group which addresses topics concerning assessments and communication,” junior Jacob Tennant said. “My group is still in the process of answering the prompts for each portion of the report.”

Senior Caitlin Takeda is also participating in the review process and meets with biology teacher Winnie Litten’s focus group every other Monday morning.

“Since my course load this year is mainly APs, I can usually give input on the rigor and pace of these classes,” Takeda said.

Students also have their own hopes for this year’s WASC cycle.

“I hope the report will bring out a larger variety of AP classes, like AP Art History,” Takeda said.

As a single accreditation is not permanent, the school refines a school-wide action plan to implement positive changes.

“This is my third WASC cycle. I’ve been here since 2000 and we’ve done well in the past. We want to keep the successful trend we’ve had with the six-year accreditation cycle,” Lory said.

Midiri emphasized that the report is dedicated to identifying both “the good things” about the school as well as “the things we need to improve.”

“Good things are happening at Oak Park and I want to make sure that those things get into the report,” Midiri said. “I expect that our results will be excellent.”