The students were some of many involved in report’s compilation, which the school’s self-study coordinators worked at long and hard before accreditation committee members arrived last week.
Steinmetz and Ana Montes volunteered their time for years to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges self-study, which they described as a highly labor-intensive process and a continuous cycle of improvement for schools.
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Steinmetz joked that the duo’s eyes were often bloodshot as “hours of sweat and blood” were put into the self-study.
WASC is a nonprofit organization and one of six national associations that accredit public and private schools, colleges and universities. Its accreditation significantly helps students get into better universities or jobs.
All the features of the school are analyzed, including classes offered, students, the community, state scores, goals and more. It doesn’t go into labor issues or funding, which are covered through other audits.
“That’s the real thing about WASC, is looking at yourself with a critical eye and improving,” Steinmetz said. “There’s many things we’re doing well that comes out in the study. … There are things that often get left out, but we find in WASC. There’s areas to improve in but many things we’re doing well.”
Examples include the school’s U.S. News and World Reports 2009 silver medal as one of America’s Best High Schools, U.S. News and World Reports 2011 ranking of Calexico High as 81 of 21,786 schools for Most Connected Schools, its high college-attendance rate for socioeconomically disadvantaged students in California and its ranking by the College Board as No. 1 in the nation for Advanced Placement Spanish-language pass rates.
Everything in the self-study report is then verified by WASC.
After identifying strengths and weaknesses, an action plan is assembled on how to fix areas of need with steps broken down for realizing goals. WASC brings in people with experience in the areas where suggestions have been made for improvement.
“It’s a good school. We keep doing better with recommendations and scholarships,” Montes said. “A lot of teachers are actually Bulldogs, alumni. We come back and teach. We’ve been there, gone to college and show the kids the ropes and how to get there. We’re very, very proud of our kids.”
The multiple-day visit from WASC committee members last week culminated with their report of the school’s strengths and weaknesses Wednesday.
The WASC committee members listed education quality, respectful attitudes between staff and students, class sizes, “heart” of the staff and multitude of instructional strategies as positives, Calexico Unified Superintendent Richard Fragale said, while areas for improvement included a need for more high school counselors and possibility of closing the campus during the lunch break.
All public schools participate in the accreditation process, and private schools participate in a voluntary basis.
The accreditation rating ranges between zero and six years with revisits from officials in between that time. Last time, Calexico High School received a six-year accreditation with a revisit at three years.
Committee members aren’t allowed to say what they’re going to recommend to the WASC commission, and the final result won’t be known until after summer.
“Based on what I heard yesterday (Wednesday) I would very disappointed if they receive anything but a six-year with three-year revisit,” Fragale said.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org