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Freedom High School Oral Exit Report Quality Assurance Review Team School Accreditation March 16-18, 2009
© 2008 AdvancED 2 A Picture of AdvancED World ’ s Largest Educational Community 23,000 public and private schools 30 states and Navajo Nation Department of Defense Education Activity 65 countries 15 million students 18,000 volunteers 3 million plus teachers
© 2008 AdvancED A Picture of AdvancED Dedicated to Advancing Excellence in Education through: 3 Accreditation Standards, continuous improvement, quality assurance NCA CASI and SACS CASI are the accreditation divisions of AdvancED Professional Services Professional development, technical assistance, conferences, consulting Research and Innovation Publications, resources, tools, evaluation
© 2008 AdvancED 4 School Accreditation A national protocol for schools committed to systemic, systematic, and sustainable improvement Builds the capacity of the school to increase and sustain student learning Stimulates and supports improvement and effectiveness throughout the school
© 2008 AdvancED 5 School Accreditation Ensures all people, processes, departments in the school work in concert Strengthens efforts to meet accountability requirements Encourages growth beyond compliance to achieve excellence Promotes continuous not episodic improvement
© 2008 AdvancED 6 Pillars of Accreditation 1.Meet the AdvancED Quality Standards 2.Engage in Continuous Improvement 3.Demonstrate Quality Assurance through Internal and External Review To earn and maintain accreditation, schools must:
© 2008 AdvancED 7 Purpose & Role of the Quality Assurance Review Team 1.Determine the extent to which the School meets the AdvancED standards. 2.Assess the efficacy of the School’s improvement efforts. 3.Evaluate the effectiveness of the School’s methods for quality assurance. 4.Provide high-quality feedback with clear recommendations and actionable next steps. 5.Make an accreditation recommendation.
© 2008 AdvancED 8 Activities of the Quality Assurance Review Team Artifacts/documents review Interviews School visits Observations Professional deliberations
© 2008 AdvancED 9 Interviews with Stakeholders During the on-site Quality Assurance Review, team members interviewed: 5 Administrators & Leadership Team 60 Teachers 12 Support Staff 20 Parents and Community Members 61 Students TOTAL of 158 stakeholders
© 2008 AdvancED 10 Criteria Used to Arrive at the Team’s Findings When reviewing evidence to arrive at its findings, the team: Sought a school-wide perspective; Pursued evidence that could be corroborated through multiple sources; Examined the context and capacity of the school in relation to its vision, mission, and beliefs; and Applied the criteria for accreditation.
© 2008 AdvancED 11 Summary of Team’s Findings Commendations Significant accomplishments in meeting and/or exceeding accreditation standards and requirements Recommendations Actions that will enhance school effectiveness and improve student learning; recommendations must be addressed within two years of the visit
© 2008 AdvancED 12 Commendations The Quality Assurance Review Team commends: Freedom High School for living their mission and vision in fostering a collaborative culture and building a true sense of community and pride. Since the building opened four years ago, stakeholders have worked hard to develop their identity in creating a feeling of unity in school spirit. Faculty, parents, and students noted in interviews that they had “come a long way in four years developing cohesiveness among the faculty and students in building a climate that has finally come together.” Throughout interviews and observations it was realized that faculty and staff are supportive of each other’s programs and building relationship trust and a sense of community. There has also been a noticeable decline in student discipline as students are empowered and find success in their daily activities. When colleagues accept professional responsibility for their students in creating a climate of collaboration to encourage one another in developing and exceeding expectations, a culture of success and pride, especially for student achievement, will exist.
© 2008 AdvancED 13 Commendations The Quality Assurance Review Team commends: Freedom High School for a school administration that is caring and respectful to their faculty and staff, actively dedicated to recognizing and developing professional responsibility in the building. The culture of professional responsibility is evidenced through discussions with all stakeholders, programs such as LLLT (Life Long Learning Team), TALONS (Teaching and Learning on Saturday), active participation on the SIT( School Improvement Team) and development of the SIP (School Improvement Plan), the Principal Forum, and individual interviews with the principal. The administration continually underscores the standards and expectations for educators at Freedom High School. Standards and expectations are supported and celebrated by the administration with frequent “praise” opportunities. Administrators at Freedom High School understand the necessity of building relationships with their faculty and staff and serving as role models for teachers who develop similar relationships with students in order to optimize student learning and to develop a climate of unity. When a sense of professional responsibility is the standard for the school, not the suggestion, learning is optimized and the school climate supports the school vision and a culture of unity and pride.
© 2008 AdvancED 14 Commendations The Quality Assurance Review Team commends: Faculty and stakeholders at Freedom High School who work collaboratively with administrative staff, instructional leaders, and support personnel to identify school-wide needs and objectives in developing and implementing specific instructional goals and action plans or strategies to achieve their goals. Through a series of interviews and observations, the team found that teachers and stakeholders are involved in the articulation, development, and implementation of instructional goals by conducting frequent needs assessments and making data-driven instructional decisions to address those needs on a school-wide basis. This highly collaborative process occurs within the framework of curricular teams and the use of formative and summative assessments; with the support and assistance of instructional leaders, specialists, and support personnel; and through the participation of all teachers on various committees and subcommittees. By incorporating pacing guides, emphasizing instructional technology, building teacher collaboration time and remediation and intervention opportunities for students into the master schedule and sharing a variety of best practice instructional strategies, the faculty and staff functions as a true Professional Learning Community that focuses on helping students maximize their academic potential. When instructional goals are clearly articulated, as in the School Improvement Plan (SIP), a roadmap is provided for continued success, demonstrating a highly collaborative school-wide effort to identify and implement a clear vision.
© 2008 AdvancED 15 Commendations The Quality Assurance Review Team commends: Freedom High School for establishing and expanding methods of optimizing and enhancing student experiences as ninth grade students transition to the high school setting. Through discussions with stakeholders in addition to classroom observations, it is evident that heightened attention is directed to the fragility and academic significance of the ninth grade year. This understanding is reflected in the establishment of a ninth grade “academy” that is supported by a team of teachers, a dedicated ninth grade counselor and a ninth grade administrator. Data analysis is used to provide enlightened placement and remediation decisions as necessary in a timely fashion. Additionally, programs such as tours to Freedom High School by rising ninth grade students, articulation between middle school and Freedom High School administrators and counselors, orientation opportunities for parents, and the August orientation are integral parts of the transition process. Attention to ninth grade students for results in immediate remediation as necessary, direct connection to the school, and a nurturing relationship with teachers and administrators helps students achieve their academic potential.
© 2008 AdvancED 16 Commendations The Quality Assurance Review Team commends: Freedom High School for maintaining a clear focus on increasing student achievement. This is due in large part to the faculty and staff’s commitment to building relationships with students and their willingness to provide them with remediation, intervention, and enrichment before, during, and following the instructional day. Through a series of interviews, observations, and analysis of school performance data, the team found the data to reflect a consistently high level of student achievement. Stakeholders are aware of school performance objectives and current outcomes, and they collaborate on the development and implementation of strategies to address performance gaps and increase overall student achievement. The collaborative process among all stakeholders demonstrates a genuine commitment to continuous school improvement and contributes to Freedom High School’s steady increase in overall student achievement.
© 2008 AdvancED 17 Recommendations The Quality Assurance Review Team recommends that Freedom High School: Develop a process to incorporate more formal cross-curricular activities that will enhance the rigor of the curriculum. Administration and faculty have expressed a desire to see more rigor in a variety of coursework that would enhance student achievement. For example, teachers noted combining activities in physics and calculus; combining an understanding of heart rate being monitored in P.E. with science or math; combining lessons in World History and English; combining chorus with orchestra class; incorporating research into science classes; and establishing a feeling that “kids are going some place” because of what they did at Freedom High School. Students will rise to expectations when motivated by teachers exposing them to challenging and exciting curriculum opportunities.
© 2008 AdvancED 18 Recommendations The Quality Assurance Review Team recommends that Freedom High School: Continue developing traditions among students and the school community that foster pride and ownership in the school, including programs to increase parent involvement and communication with all constituents. With the apparent reality of growth in Freedom High School’s attendance zone and looming budget cuts, this will be critical in maintaining the culture of the school that has evolved over the past four years. Faculty and parents noted concerns that in the challenges of growth, it was important to continue embracing a diverse culture that challenged a greater involvement of all parents and stakeholders to take a more active role in PTSA, fine arts activities, having interpreters for parent rights, and providing other communication vehicles beyond Hispanic translations. A successful school community is built on integrating all stakeholders into the culture of the school and breaking down any language barriers that might hinder their inclusion.
© 2008 AdvancED 19 Recommendations The Quality Assurance Review Team recommends that Freedom High School: Continue to expand processes that will facilitate a data-informed school culture through a systematic and consistent process of data collection, distribution to all stakeholders, analysis, interpretation, and application to instructional programs. Through a series of interviews and observations, the team found a lack of consistency regarding data-driven decision making; i.e., the systematic use of available performance data to improve instruction and increase student achievement. Some curricular teams are more advanced in this area than others, and the review team recognizes that achieving a level of consistency will take time; nevertheless, it is critical for achieving instructional goals at the curricular team, departmental, and school-wide levels. By focusing more on the available tools and resources used for data- driven decision making, administrators, instructional leaders, specialists, and coordinators can help individual teachers, curricular teams, and departments identify instructional strengths and weaknesses and make the necessary instructional decisions that help increase overall student achievement.
© 2008 AdvancED 20 Next Steps Written report of findings submitted within 30 days After receipt of the report, the school is expected to: Review and communicate the findings. Address the recommendations. Monitor accreditation standards on ongoing basis. Monitor strategies for improvement. Submit the Accreditation Progress Report two years following this review.
© 2008 AdvancED 21 Accreditation Recommendation The Quality Assurance Review Team recommends to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission that Freedom High School be awarded SACS CASI Accreditation as a quality school. Once reviewed and approved by the AdvancED Accreditation Commission, the school is granted a 5- year term accreditation.
© 2008 AdvancED 22 Final Thoughts On behalf of the Quality Assurance Team, I extend: Our appreciation for your hospitality, support, and professionalism; Our respect and acknowledgement of the dedicated staff; and Our congratulations for completing the Quality Assurance Review process.
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