DPMHS prepares for WASC visit


David Eskichyan

DPMHS was last accredited in 2013.

Farah Faiza

As Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) nears its Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation appointment, here’s a Q&A with English teacher Ron Baer to explain the importance of it. Baer is in charge of the WASC process for DPMHS.

1. What is WASC?

WASC is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. They look at schools for six-year approvals to see if it is up to their standards. If the school is not, then students’ diplomas are meaningless as schools have to be accredited.

2. If the school doesn’t get accredited, then how will it affect students applying for college?

It would not be good. If you’re applying for college and your school isn’t WASC accredited, there are many colleges that will not accept them. Maybe privates are different, but definitely, any of the UC’s and the Cal States would not accept a student, without WASC accreditation. Many schools get shut down because they don’t get accredited.

3. How are schools evaluated?

Through a lot of factors. We write the report and they check to see if we’re doing what we say we are in the report. We talk about our strengths and we also look at things we need to work on. The WASC committee also says that ‘in the last visit, we saw this and we’re asking you to work on it.’  Focus groups are also conducted.

4. How long are schools evaluated?

WASC accreditation is every six years. They also do a mid-year visit where they come back for one day to see us. It’s not considered very good if they come back for two days, that means they’re seeing some things that they don’t like.

5. When is the WASC visit and how is DPMHS preparing for it?

It is April 7 through the 10. We just finished our 190-page report that gets handed in for the WASC committee to look over and write what they see in the report. We’re going to have classroom visits by teachers, so teachers can say what they are seeing in the rooms when they go in there.

6. Why does WASC conduct focus groups?

They’re trying to find out if the school does what they say they are going to do. Maybe, ‘well, it says that in English, you do this thing called seminars. Are you familiar with seminars? Have you done these before? It says that you’re always evaluating your work, have you evaluated your work? Is there a rubric for you?’

Anything that’s on the report, their job is to put out another report saying that they’ve seen these things. They also put out another report saying the things we need to work on.

7. Who’s picked to be in the focus groups?

Well, there’s going to be a focus group of students and a focus group of parents when WASC comes. The parent group is done from four till almost six o’clock on a school day. And the student one, the way Mrs. Pevar worked, I believe, is that she tried to make it as random as possible. Doing something like every 20th student.

8. Is there a specific area in which you think the school will be told to improve on this time?

I think that they will tell us that we need to work in a more cross-curricular manner. That we need to have journalism be more part of the school throughout. Even though we talk about the article of the week, I think that WASC will say we need to go a lot further than just an article of the week to say we work with journalism.

District officials will be visiting DPMHS on March 11 to help prepare the school for their WASC visit.