Reflections: Common Elements within the Self-Study and the Mid-Cycle Processes

Nadine Elwood | Coordinator, Accrediting Commission for Schools, WASC

Key elements or tasks of the self-study process are also integral to the mid-cycle analysis of progress on the school’s implementation of the schoolwide action plan. The mid-cycle report is an opportunity for the school to celebrate all that has been accomplished since the last self-study. Below are the comparative elements that are addressed in both processes.

Student/Community Profile Data and Summary of Data

Mid-Cycle Progress Summary: Who are the students and what does the data currently show?  For the mid-cycle report, the school has updated the Student/Community Profile and Summary that includes student achievement data of the schoolwide learner outcomes and the identified major student learner needs. Regular conversations are held regarding the data and impact on student learning. (Reference:  ACS WASC Student/Community Profile Guide within the appropriate manual, e.g.,  ACS WASC/CDE Focus on Learning manual.)

Suggestion: Always update this section, delete a year, add a new one. Then the Student/Community Profile is always current for review and discussion by staff and other stakeholders.  In the conversations, discuss the schoolwide learner outcomes and evidence of student growth and achievement in meeting these.

Significant Changes and Developments

Mid-Cycle Progress Summary: What changes/developments have happened in the three years since the last self-study visit? How have all stakeholders been involved in implementing and monitoring the schoolwide action plan?

Suggestion: Briefly address the significant developments and note impact on students and the school, e.g., administration, staff, curriculum, new assessments, facilities. Include actions and changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example: Administration: We had a change in five of our administrative  positions this past year. Remember to include the impact, for example, “Staff and faculty are getting to know our new admin and we are planning/have done many activities to create a new culture.”  Note:  A Google form sent out to staff can be used to obtain aggregated input from teachers regarding significant changes and their impact on addressing major student learner needs. Performed annually, information can always be reflected upon— making this truly “an ongoing process.”

Engagement of Stakeholders in Continuous School Improvement

Mid-Cycle Progress Summary: How have stakeholders been involved in the development, implementation, and monitoring of the schoolwide action plan and the preparation of the progress report?

Suggestion: Keep track of the notes from staff meetings/leadership meetings and the discussions that relate to carrying out the school’s action plan. When a school prepares for the self-study or mid-cycle report or visit, it is helpful to have a timeline of the action steps.

Progress on the Implementation of the Schoolwide Action Plan

Mid-Cycle Progress Summary: This summary evolves from the self-study findings and what was determined as growth areas that needed to be addressed; these were confirmed by the visiting committee. Did you do what you planned to do?  What is the progress? What is the impact on student learning?

Suggestion: Here is another opportunity to use a Google form (as mentioned in “Significant Changes and Developments” above). Cite the schools’ self-study findings and growth areas and ask staff what they have accomplished over the time span. This might be done individually, per department, or as a whole school. Performed annually, this is valuable information to be able to plan and modify ongoing school endeavors and the action plan.

Schoolwide Action Plan Refinements

Mid-Cycle Progress Summary: As a result of analysis of progress, the school provides a modified schoolwide action plan, e.g., adding/deleting a goal or actions and redefining measurable outcomes.

Suggestion:  Review the action plan frequently during the year. By using the information gathered from the sections above, the school will have a clear vision of the modifications needed to further support learning and proficiency for all students. Celebrate all that has been accomplished.

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