WASC Visit


Last week Golden Valley High School was visited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), an accrediting commission for schools. In more precise terms, WASC is an organization that provides accreditation to public and private universities, colleges, secondary and elementary schools. However, they also claim that WASC stands for “We Are Student-Centered.” They specifically accredit schools in California, Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Asia, and other parts of the world.
Through their accreditation, they seek to assure “…that an institution has clearly defined objectives appropriate to education; has established conditions under which their achievement can reasonably be expected; appears in fact to be accomplishing them substantially; is so organized, staffed, and supported that it can be expected to continue to do so; and demonstrates that it meets ACS WASC’s criteria and accreditation standards,” according to their website.
The visit process begins with a one or two day visit by a team to understand the school’s purpose, program, and operations based on WASC criteria. If the Commission grants initial accreditation or candidacy, the school must then address suggestions made in the report from the first visit and complete the first self-study by the end of the third year. The school must then clarify the school’s purpose and the schoolwide learner outcomes, assess the student program and their impact on student learning based on WASC standards, and develop a schoolwide action plan that addresses the changes made after the initial visit. The full committee then visits the school to see assess for these changes. The committee can either validate the school’s effort by suggesting accreditation in their report or continue to tweak weaker areas in the school until they have deemed themselves worthy of the accreditation. Once accredited, the school must then send in annual reports and continue to pay the membership fee. Every six years, the school must then conduct a self-study and host a self-study visit in order for the accreditation to be renewed.
Golden Valley has been an accredited institution since it’s opening, as all schools are required to go through this process to validate the integrity of the school’s programs and transcripts. GV’s last “full” WASC visit was six years ago, with a one day review three years ago for the mid-cycle visit.
Wendi Johnston, one of GV’s assistant principals, supervised the WASC process. In regards to the results of the visit, she said it “…went off without a hitch.” She also said, in regards to Golden Valley, “Going through the accreditation process with WASC provides Golden Valley the opportunity to highlight all the programs that make us great! In addition, it gives us the opportunity to reflect and make any changes necessary in order to ensure that we’re meeting all the needs of our students – reflecting our mission and our vision.”
For further information on Golden Valley’s WASC report see the School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) Template.