Sage Creek to be Evaluated by WASC

English+teacher+Mr.+Porter+leads+a+class+discussion+during+fifth+period.+The+WASC+committee+will+be+witnessing+class+discussions+like+this+throughout+the+beginning+of+next+week.+

Paige Zepada

English teacher Mr. Porter leads a class discussion during fifth period. The WASC committee will be witnessing class discussions like this throughout the beginning of next week.

Sam Bodnar and Beau Prince

Next week, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) committee will be arriving on campus. If all goes according to plan, the committee won’t have to set foot on campus again for the next six years.

“The benefit of a [six year re-check] validates that we’re doing a great job and that [WASC is] very impressed with what [Sage Creek is] doing,” math teacher and WASC coordinator Domenic Manente said.

Manente has been working alongside the Sage Creek staff as well as the WASC committee to ensure that the school is up to its and WASC’s standards. Through their dedication and efforts, the Bobcat staff is striving to go above and beyond its own expectations.

“The idea of the self study and the accreditation is to participate in an on-going process of improvement. The staff has been working for over a year, meeting on late start Wednesdays or after school to ensure improvement,” Manente said.

WASC is one of the six major accrediting institutions in the United States. It is also an agency that works alongside the Office of Overseas Schools in the U.S. Department of State.

According to the agency, their objective is to ensure that a school’s aim is student learning, a school has clearly defined objectives throughout, and a school participates in thorough evaluations to continue its strides in improving academics.

Manente has been working with his colleagues to prepare a report that the WASC committee will then validate with their visit.

“Me and the staff analyze all the things we are doing as a school (our curriculum, assignments, organization, culture) and we have to respond to the criteria that WASC provides with [this] evidence,” Manente emphasized.

The committee will be greeted by the Bobcat community with a barbeque at the Carlsbad Beach Resort this Sunday at noon. After the BBQ, there will be a guided tour of the Bobcat campus at 3:15 p.m. led by staff and parents. Following the tour, six WASC members will be walking around campus on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and will be meeting with students and teachers.

“[Students] can expect to see these people walking around, coming into classrooms, [and being] out at lunch. [WASC] has two and a half days to get to know as much as they can about Sage Creek. They’re going to try to get into classrooms during every period to see what’s going on, to make sure that the stuff we wrote in the report was true, [and] to validate what we’re doing,” Manente explained.

One final detail that Manente added was a message to the student body in the event that they are recipients of a meeting card that the six WASC members will give to students.

“They might stop you and talk to you, or hand you a pass to talk [later on]. Be honest with your feedback of the school. Because it’s about how [SC] is trying to improve,” Manente said.

The accreditation process naturally raises a lot of questions for students, especially for seniors who expect their diploma to get them from high school into the world. There is, however, little need for concern about the status of Sage Creek’s accreditation.

“We got an [initial accreditation] in our first year based on what we said…we’re offering… So we’re already accredited,” counselor Roger Brown said.

So then, what specifically is a WASC accreditation and how does it affect Sage Creek?

Accreditation from WASC or another accreditation agency is a voluntary process for an educational institution. Receiving an accreditation from WASC allows seniors to graduate with transcripts and a diploma with the seal of certification from WASC. And while accreditation is a good way of holding a school to higher standards of education, it is not a strict requirement for graduating high school and attending college. Having such an accreditation is, however, a big help to students, as not all universities accept students from unaccredited institutions.

For the students of Sage Creek, the upcoming visit by the WASC committee will likely cause little change. The visit serves, essentially, as a check-up to ensure that Sage is meeting the goals it set in its first year.

“We’re an accredited school, and after this visit, we will still be an accredited school,” Brown said. “There’s no reason whatsoever for our students and families to have any concern about our accreditation status- now or ever.”

According to Brown, the senior class this year and in future years will have no issues in applying to colleges due to the lack of an accreditation. This process simply ensures that Sage Creek is performing at the standards it should. What’s more, Brown is optimistic that Sage Creek will receive the highest possible grade from the WASC committee in their first evaluation after our initial accreditation.

“I’m confident that we will be a six-year school… I think we’ve done a lot to honor what our initial accreditation was for…and that we’re open and honest about what we’re doing well and the areas that we want to improve on,” Brown said.