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A Visiting Committee’s Work in the WCEA Process for Accreditation

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1 A Visiting Committee’s Work in the WCEA Process for Accreditation
The Visiting Committee for Catholic High Schools A Visiting Committee’s Work in the WCEA Process for Accreditation

2 Some Important Reminders:
The Visiting Committee of the Self Study Process plays a major role in the Accreditation Process for Catholic High Schools. Its essential role is to verify and affirm a school’s Self Study; therefore, the Committee “wears the hat” of the school it is visiting. The Visiting Committee members understand their professional obligations: unity, integrity and confidentiality: a. Unity: collaboration---strive for consensus in important judgments b. Integrity: the Committee thinks and acts without prejudice to the school; the Committee receives both the school’s Self Study and the the school’s reality (observations, interviews, documents) without any preconceived judgments based on a member’s own experience at his/her own school. c. Confidentiality: The Committee does not publicly disclose the proceedings or results of its work.

3 In Advance of the Visit:
The chairperson and the members each receive a copy of the school’s Self Study and digital copy of the Data Library. Each member reads the entire Self Study and becomes familiar with it while forming first impressions of the school. The Visiting Committee is trained for its work: a. How to accomplish some writing in advance of the visit; b. How to conduct the entire visit including the writing of its report and the determination of a recommendation of an Accreditation Status for the school. The On-site Visit to the School: The on-site visit allows for an experience of the school itself: 1. This visit entails experiences of: classroom dynamics, the co-curricular program, student’s work, other school documents, school persons’ and groups’ reflection on what they do (interviews, observations), and the school’s improvements and aspirations. 2. The Visiting Committee’s time for discussion and written work requirements.

4 3. Making a recommendation to the WCEA Secondary Commission
regarding the Accreditation of the school. The Visiting Committee Process: (pages in the VC Manual) Note: There is much in common between E3 and what has preceded it (i.e. FOL), but there are new features to E3 . New Features to E3: The Self Study process that the school has completed according to E3 has some new features: a. A “Catholic Identity” set of Standards b. A Data Library c. A more compact format for the Findings chapter (Chapter IV) d. A more department-driven analysis of the teaching and learning within the school -- (see page 5 of the VC Manual)

5 Becoming familiar with the E3 format:
Use pages 3-5 of the VC Manual to familiarize yourself with E3 format Reading the school’s Self Study: It is important that the VC member reads the Self Study (received approximately one month before the actual visit). This important reading allows the member to become familiar with the school, to accomplish a pre-writing task assigned by the chairperson, and to see how his/her individual work will blend with the whole committee. The Chair of the committee will have a copy of the Data Library, but the committee members will have access to one at the school and during their entire visit. Completing a Pre-writing Assignment: Assigned by the Chair, each member writes a “first draft” based solely on the written Self Study. It serves two purposes: an understanding of what the school has done; and brings focus to what must be explored at the visit. (Walk through pg. 17)

6 Following a Schedule: The Visiting Committee Chairperson and the school develop a mutually agreeable schedule for the visit. There must be time for classroom visiting, document review, interviewing and committee work meetings. a. Visiting classrooms is important. It provides the necessary opportunity for the committee member to witness teaching and learning. Also important is the time to view student’s work. This work will be provided in the classrooms. While visiting a classroom, the committee member views student work. b. Document review has to do with using the Data Library and reviewing all other documents such as school handbooks, surveys, financial reports, etc. c. Interviewing: The Visiting Committee will interview seven focus groups: the school’s Leadership Team and one group for each of the A to G areas of accreditation principles (see pg. 7), and also interview a group of randomly selected students. (see page 18-19)

7 Informing the School’s Leadership Team:
Based on much experience with accreditation school visits the practice of keeping the leadership Team informed of the progress of the visit each day has become very important. This morning session provides the opportunity for discussion on what the Visiting Committee is experiencing, what further assistance may be required of the Leadership Team, and what the Visiting Committee has discovered in its review of the school. (pg. 19) Sharing Perceptions within the Visiting Committee: Sufficient time must be included during the visit to allow for much discussion among the Committee members about what each has learned (seen/heard/read/understood) in order to assist the whole committee to form evaluative judgments. Doing this properly will assist in forming consensus in their work.

8 Forming Evaluative Judgments:
This very important task is a major piece of the work of a Visiting Committee. These judgments decide whether (and to the degree to which) the school has met a standard (which, remember, is a quality indicator concerning an area of school experience). This kind of judgment represents work that the committee Performs in its internal forum. There are also judgments regarding whether the school observes a principle, which is an integral rule of Catholic high school accreditation. This is an external forum of Its work. Internal Forum: Concerns standards being met (and these standards constitute an accreditation principle) These are internal to the committee because these are steps along the way to the school’s observance of a principle at some level. External Forum: Concerns the “bottom line” of accreditation---that is the knowledge by the school that it has met the seven principles and to what degree. This external forum becomes public to the school and the accrediting commission.

9 Determining whether Standards are met:
For this important section of the Visiting Committee Manual we will refer and spend some time on pages of the Manual. Determining the School’s Observance of the Seven Principles: Refer to pages of the Manual for this important section. We will walk through the particulars. Reviewing a School’s Educational Improvement Plan (EIP): A school’s self-improvement plan is a major feature of accreditation since its essential goal is to decide on Areas of Vital Growth that need to be accomplished over time, and to design a plan along some guidelines provided in the accreditation process for the accomplishment of the various vital growth areas. Important to this task is the ensure the Visiting Committee and the school that the EIP is appropriate and objectively aligned with the Self Study Findings.

10 A Visiting Committee may decide that it has identified another vital area that it would
like the school to consider, and have it added to the EIP. To add another item to the EIP is a serious undertaking. There would have to be much evidence gathered by the Visiting Committee to warrant such an action. Refer now to Page 22… Writing the Report of Findings: Pages 22 – 25 provide significant detail to this important task. We will refer to those Pages for review and discussion. Before doing so: The Report of Findings is organized according to an introduction and seven sections. In each of the seven sections, the Visiting Committee: Identifies the principle at hand (e.g. Authentic Catholic identity) Discerns whether the principle is observed by means of a viewing of the completed forms entitled “Attainment of a Standard.” Includes a written rationale for its discernment, providing citation from the Data Library as pertinent and providing other evidence in support of its discernment. 4. There is a form used for this –”Observance of a Principle” (Appendix B)

11 WCEA Accreditation Recommendation Form:
The Visiting Committee upon completion of its work makes a recommendation for Accreditation to the WCEA Commission. This new format for E3 takes one of two Forms: Accreditation with quarterly reports: These are quarterly reports over the remainder of the accreditation cycle (six years). They are given to the local Commissioner who shares these reports with the WCEA Commission. Accreditation with a mid-cycle visit/report: This recommendation entails a one-and-a-half day visit by a two person WCEA Committee at the mid-point of the accreditation cycle (36 months from the beginning of the school’s Self Study work). See pages for full details. Note: In choosing between the two recommendations, the WCEA Visiting Committee should especially weigh the nature of the changes that the committee made to the school’s EIP. Once the choice is made, reflecting the consensus of the committee, the work of the committee is complete. Currently this recommendation is not made known to the school, but it is made known to the Commission at the Accreditation Meeting.




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