is in the process of readying for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges evaluation for accreditation evaluation.
"Colleges may not accept your students [if the school is not accredited]," MHS Principal Michael Connolly said. "I'm putting it very simple terms, but that means a lot. I can't think of a school that isn't accredited."
The NEASC is one of six regional accreditation associations. The NEASC accreditation process requires that the school in question go through a rigorous self and peer evaluation according to NEASC standards. Mansfield is currently already accreditated, but the accreditation goes through a 10 year cycle, during which both the NEASC and accreditated schools update and refine their standards.
The process starts with a pre self-study, a self-study, a peer evaluation, follow-up and two and fie year progress reports. MHS is currently in the self-study portion of the process, and will undergo the peer evaluation in 2013.
The peer evaluation is a study in which 17 other educators come into the school and measure the school's self-study against the NEASC standards.
"The people who come here to validate the self study are teachers from all over New England," School Committee member Jim Perry said. "They take time from their school, their jobs and their school system."
The evaluators then give a follow-up that shows how that particular school measures up to the standards. The process takes a lot of manpower and time, but worth the effort, the school committee agreed.
Connolly said that he and the MHS Council have updated the schools strategic plan to include the changes in core curriculum and standards to help accommodate the NEASC standards. Connolly said the changes were already in motion from former MHS principal ’s time in the position.
“We’ve got a lot of carry over from last year’s plan,” Connolly said.
One of the key factors of the NEASC standards that the school will be working on will be what the NEASC calls 21st century learning expectations. These expectations include the assessment and development of skills that cross all disciplines. He used writing as an example of one such discipline.
“If we’re going to say that we want all our students when they graduate to be effective writers, we have to articulate what that is and how we’re going to measure it across all disciplines,” he said. “ So obviously we have to start getting that into the culture of the school for our instruction practices and assessment practices. That’s a big part of what NEASC is going to measure us on.”
Connolly went on to say that MHS is already in the process of this and many other changes to the processes of instruction, curriculum and assessment, and was . For more information on the NEASC and its evaluation and accreditation process, click here.