Wilton High School will undergo NEASC evaluation next week
Beginning Sunday, May 1, Wilton High School will undergo a four-day evaluation for accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
According to the association's website, NEASC accreditation is an "ongoing, voluntary" system of accountability based on standards that "define the characteristics of good schools and colleges."
The NEASC accreditation process occurs every 10 years and consists of a self-study, peer review and follow-ups.
"The process is really, really comprehensive," said Wilton High School Principal Robert O'Donnell, "and you definitely want to be accredited because it ascertains the fact that you have met the standards outlined by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges."
According to the NEASC website, schools that receive accreditation demonstrate:
- Substantial compliance with established qualitative standards.
- Integrity in statements to the public describing the institution’s program.
- Institutional commitment to improvement.
- Sufficiency of institutional resources.
A NEASC visiting committee, comprised of 16 educators, will arrive at Wilton High School on Sunday, May 1, said O'Donnell. A panel discussion will take place that afternoon, followed by teacher interviews, meetings with parents and Board of Education members, and a welcome reception.
Monday through Wednesday, NEASC committee members will be busy touring the school, holding meetings with school staff, collecting data, presenting reports, and debriefing with one another.
O'Donnell said the committee will examine “every aspect" of the school — from facilities, student life and school climate to curriculum, instruction and assessment — and students will be extensively involved in the process.
"The committee members will shadow students during the week," said O'Donnell.
"We have students who will be guiding the visiting committee members around the school and [committee members] will actually attend classes with the students."
O'Donnell said Wilton High School faculty has been engaged in a two-year self-study process focused on the following standards:
- Core values, beliefs and learning expectations.
- Assessment of and for students.
- School culture and leadership.
- School resources for learning.
- Community resources for learning.
"Essentially, you conduct an evaluation of your school against the standards, and we have taken a very, very careful and critical look at our school," said O'Donnell.
“We really try to take a real, hard critical look at ourselves because it’s designed to be a continuous improvement model.”
O'Donnell said he commends the high school's faculty and administration for their "diligent work in completing this process."
Review and follow-up
After reviewing the self-study, O'Donnell said, the NEASC committee will "issue a report about how we have met the standards."
After voting on an accreditation recommendation for Wilton High School, the visiting committee chair will share closing remarks with the school community on Wednesday, May 4, before the committee leaves.
According to the NEASC website, follow-up ensures that "planned and prescribed institutional change is accomplished' and "provides for intervention, as necessary, to respond to information gathered in regular reports from the institution or through complaints from the public concerning a failure to comply with the standards."
This would require Wilton High School to send two-, five- and seven-year reports to NEASC, said O'Donnell, and compile two- and five-year plans about how it will "continue to engage in the process."
O'Donnell said he is “excited" about the NEASC visit.
"We have a fantastic high school with outstanding students and faculty and staff," he said.
"This is an opportunity for the committee to come in and review our practices, make recommendations, endorse some of our findings and share some of their own.”
Click here to learn more about NEASC.