‘Iolani prepares for Accreditation Review
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Students take tests all the time. Now, it’s ‘Iolani’s turn. ‘Iolani is currently in the process of being accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, also known as WASC. Accreditation is the process that validates student credits when they apply for college.
“Colleges and universities are tasked with evaluating the courses that students take in high school, it is important to them that those courses are taken at a school that has been accredited by the appropriate organization,” says Associate Head of School Dr. Karen Neitzel. The accreditation process is an important part of evaluating the quality of the educational programs.
Schools are graded in years rather than a standard numerical scale. If a school is not doing well, it may be given a one-year grade, which is the worst grade possible. When this happens, members of the accreditation team returns the next year to follow up on specific recommendations that they gave the school in the first visit. If a school is doing well, the accrediting group may give a maximum of a six-year grade, which means the WASC team will not have to come back and check on the school for another six years.
In Spring of 2018, WASC representatives will visit ‘Iolani for three and a half days. Prior to their visit, faculty, staff, some alumni, and students will split up into groups to research and answer questions about the school specific to the self-study process. Teachers just found out which groups they will participate in. The questions may be about academics, extracurriculars activities, or even technology. After this process of analysis, the groups will write up their responses to the questions, creating the final report that is issues to HAIS and WASC. This is the report that WASC representatives review during their visit to the school. For the past accrediting processes that ‘Iolani has been through, ‘Iolani has always received a six-year grade.
“The process gives our school an opportunity for an outside group to come and look at what we’re doing as a school, and for us, since we do such a good job, it’s going to be really validating,” said Dr. Neitzel.
The last accreditation process at ‘Iolani revealed concerns in the technology and biology departments and open stairwells on rainy days. Within the last six years, the addition of the Sullivan Center for Leadership and Innovation has provided a lot more technological opportunities for student, such as robotics, coding, sustainability programs, and the Fabrication Lab. We also now have better stairways with bumps and ridges for more grip while walking.
“I just think we’re going to come across as a really great school,” said Dr. Neitzel.