School Improvement and the Schoolwide Action Plan
For over five decades, the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC) has played a vital role in assisting schools with school improvement. There are two primary functions in our process: one is to provide quality assurance, we have specific criteria that schools have to meet in order to be accredited. Second, and more important for us, is whether or not a school is adding value to the experience of children and whether they engage in a school improvement process. The ACS WASC process provides the foundation for a culture of clear understanding of a school’s purpose and schoolwide student goals and for the analysis of achievement and actions to improve learning.
ACS WASC accreditation is a powerful process for school improvement and student success. Internalizing ACS WASC accreditation is synonymous with ongoing school improvement and meaningful change, thereby providing the underpinning for the effective functioning of a school.
- ACS WASC Accreditation Principles: Supporting and Sustaining All School Improvement Initiatives,
Marilyn S. George, Associate Executive Director, ACS WASC, WASC Words 2009.
Schoolwide Action Plan
The accreditation process is a perpetual cycle of assessment, planning, implementing, monitoring, and reassessment (self-study, visit, and follow-up). During the year prior to the visit, a school clarifies or redefines its expected student learner outcomes (schoolwide learner outcomes) and begins the formal self-study process that assesses the actual student program with respect to the criteria. The self-study process culminates in the development of a three- to five-year schoolwide action plan.
ACS WASC Six-Year Cycle for Schools
- Past Cycle — Year Six: Completion of Self-Study, Visit, Refinement of the schoolwide action plan after the visit
- New Cycle:
- Year One: Profile Update, Progress Report, Refinement of the schoolwide action plan
- Year Two: Profile Update, Progress Report, Refinement of the schoolwide action plan
- Year Three: Profile Update, Mid-cycle Progress Report and One- or Two-Day Review), Refinement of the schoolwide action plan
- Year Four: Profile Update, Progress Report, Refinement of the schoolwide action plan
- Year Five: Review of all Profile Data, Progress Report, Progress and Program Analysis (beginning of next Self-Study), revision of the schoolwide action plan
- Year Six: Completion of Self-Study, including refinement of schoolwide action plan, visit by ACS WASC Team, revision of the schoolwide action plan after the visit
Subsequent to the visit, the school refines and implements the action plan. The Leadership Team coordinates this implementation, annual review of progress, and the refinement of the “next steps” of the action plan in meeting the goals. All the follow-up is done with respect to evidence that students are accomplishing the established schoolwide learner outcomes.
ACS WASC Focus on Learning Action Plans (Private Schools)
ACS WASC/FOL Suggested Action Plan Components
Include the following components in each section of the action plan:
- Statement of area for improvement (goal)
- Rationale for area based on self-study findings
- One or more schoolwide learner outcomes addressed
- Ways of assessing progress, including student achievement of the learning results (and curricular standards)
- Specific steps, including professional development
- Timeline (month, year)
- Responsible (designate by asterisk) and involved person(s)
- Means to monitor and report progress to all members
ACS WASC/CDE Focus on Learning Action Plan Format
(California Public Schools)
The components of the Single Plan for Student Achievement and the components of the ACS AWSC Focus on Learning action plan are in harmony. The components are identical in concept; the specific actions of the Single Plan for Student Achievement are expressed in more detail. The incorporation of the ACS WASC critical areas for follow-up into the Single Plan for Student Achievement fulfills the requirements of the school improvement process — one plan satisfies both entities.
|ACS WASC SUGGESTED COMPONENTS|| SINGLE PLAN FOR STUDENT
|Area of improvement||School goal|
|Link to schoolwide learner outcomes||Link to LEA goals|
|Rationale||Data used—who was involved|
|Growth targets||Growth targets for focus students|
|Ways of assessing student achievement||Ways of measuring student achievement|
|Means of monitoring and evaluating||Process for monitoring and evaluating|
|Who is responsible/involved||Personnel involved|
Updating the Action Plan
Following the full self-study visit and annually on an ongoing basis:
- Review the current schoolwide action plan sections and the critical areas for follow-up in the Visiting Committee Report.
- Identify the concepts or suggested ideas stated in the critical areas for follow-up.
- Integrate all appropriate concepts and suggested ideas from the Visiting Committee Report’s critical areas for follow-up into the action plan:
- Update the current goals or areas for improvement.
- Update the appropriate tasks and activities.
- Update other appropriate components, e.g., who is involved, who is responsible, the timeline, the ways of assessing progress, and the fiscal and personnel)
- Add a new section to the action plan, if necessary.