After almost 15 months of preparation, a Validation Team assembled by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in Philadelphia, PA visited Schreiber High School from Oct. 24-27. This visit was the culminating activity of the reaccreditation process that started with the school organizing its self-study in the fall of 2005.
The basis of the accreditation process is measuring the school against 12 well-established "standards" that the regionally based Middle States Association espouses and has refined over decades of working to strengthen secondary schools in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, DC. Through a self-study process that involves teachers, students, parents, and members of the community, the school uses the Accreditation for Growth protocol to examine strengths and weaknesses. These 12 standard areas include: 1) Philosophy/Mission/Beliefs/Objectives; 2) Governance and Leadership; 3) Organizational Design and Staff; 4) Educational Programs; 5) Learning Media Services and Technology; 6) Student Services; 7) Student Life and Student Activities; 8) Facilities; 9) Health and Safety; 10) Finances; 11) Assessment of Student Learning; and 12) Planning.
A document is generated that provides the school's description of how it "measures up" to these standards. During the Validation Team's visit, the team of five educators from the Middle States Region analyzed the self-study and will provide commendations and recommendations in a report to be issued by the end of the 2006 calendar year.
In addition to the work accomplished around the 12 standards, the school is required to establish a number of objectives that form a School Improvement Plan for the next seven-year accreditation cycle. These objectives, along with action plans, activity steps, and a template to collect data to illustrate accomplishments over this time period, are approved by the Middle States Association prior to the Validation Team visit that just occurred. These detailed plans were debated and developed by teachers, other staff members, and administrators; by parents and members of the community; and included current students in conversations. The superintendent and board of education were kept informed during this process and heard a report from co-internal coordinators David Miller (assistant principal) and Lauren Giliof (reading teacher) last spring that detailed the school's work to that date.
The objectives that were developed during this process are as follows:
• By the year 2014, students at Schreiber High School will demonstrate academic improvement by earning an increased number of advanced Regents diplomas, an increase in the number of students achieving mastery on Regents examinations, and an increased enrollment in elective courses.
• By the year 2014, Schreiber High School students will gain proficiency in information literacy as measured by grade level assessments of information literacy standards.
• By the year 2014, Schreiber High School students will show an improved understanding of integrity, conduct, and civic responsibility.
Mr. Jay Lewis, Schreiber High School principal, commented that, "This process provides a framework for helping the school to work on a mutually developed improvement plan that is constantly monitored and updated. When we are visited at the midpoint of the accreditation cycle in about three years, we intend to have made considerable progress toward meeting the goals established over the past year."
On the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 24, a Welcome Dinner for the Validation Team's visit was held in the Commons at Schreiber High School. School and district officials greeted members of the team and offered some brief thoughts about the school, its strengths, and the self-study process that was just completed. Mr. Thomas Clowes, the chair of the Validation Team and assistant principal at Liberty High School in Eldersburg, MD, personally introduced the other four members of the team. They included: Ms. Noel Ruane from Eastchester High School in Eastchester, NY; Mr. Albert Reid from Yorktown High School in Yorktown, NY; Dr. Deborah Krause from West Orange High School in West Orange, NJ; and Dr. Kimberly Ann Borin from North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, NJ.
For the next three days, the team met with a representative cross section of the school community in small groups. Department chairs and directors, parents, randomly selected students, school-selected students, coaches and activity advisors, building administrators, and district office officials were consulted. By Friday morning, Oct. 27, the meetings were complete and the team worked on drafting aspects of the Report of the Validation Team that will be received by the school by the end of the calendar year. Mr. Clowes indicated that the document will be in excess of 60 pages in length.
After a busy and action-packed week, Mr. Clowes met with the faculty and staff on Friday afternoon for a brief meeting to provide a brief and unofficial oral report. For those present, it was good news and a capstone event at the end of a long evaluation process. Mr. Clowes was highly complimentary of the school, its programs, the dedication of the faculty, staff, and administration to the students of Port Washington, and of the obvious pride that the Schreiber school community has for its high school.
Mr. Clowes indicated that, "I can't say enough great things about Schreiber . . . You prepare students well for college -- Ivy League schools, State University of New York schools, and some of your students even come to the University of Maryland in my home state! You are doing a great job and I wish you the best success. I would love to be invited back in three years for your midpoint review to see how you are doing."