NSHS readies for NEASC visit

NSHS readies for NEASC visit

NORTH SMITHFIELD - Sixteen educators from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) are bound for North Smithfield High School next month with the goal of determining if school is improving, and how well it is adhering to a set of quality standards used to accredit institutions across the region.

The group will spend three days on site at the school to conduct the evaluation and will issue a report stating if NSHS is meeting their set of seven goals. The guests will interview students, teachers, parents and administrators; shadow students; and visit classrooms to gather information for a report on the school's progress.

Teachers Natalie O'Brien and Kim Rawson are heading up the committee in charge of preparing for the review.

"This process is undertaken by public schools every 10 years in order to ensure accreditation," O'Brien explained.

A major component of the evaluation is the NEASC self-study, a document crafted by school faculty over an 18-month period. During the self-study process, teachers and stakeholders looked at the different standards and assigned themselves a rating of exemplary, acceptable, limited or deficient.

"Our accreditation is then contingent not only upon the visit but also upon our ability to improve in areas that may be limited or deficient," said O'Brien.

The seven standards are:

* Core values, beliefs, and learning expectations

* Curriculum; instruction; assessment of and for student learning

* School culture and leadership

* School resources for learning

* Community resources for learning.

In an update on the high school's progress to the School Committee at a meeting last month, O'Brien pointed out that the "Northmen Way," a philosophy of shared values created last year by the class of 2013, could go a long way towards showing the school has improved in the categories of "core values" and "school culture and leadership."

The NEASC team will visit the school from Nov. 17 through 20 and their stay will begin with a welcoming ceremony, where faculty will highlight the successes of the school and introduce some of their challenges and five to 10 year goals.

Supt. Stephen Lindberg said the district has budgeted approximately $20,000 for the visit.

"Accreditation is significant because it provides validation for the education that we provide to students at NSHS and ensures that their degree has value beyond the walls of our school," said O'Brien.