NEASC team gives CHS full accreditation

NEASC team gives CHS full accreditation

CUMBERLAND - The continued accreditation of Cumberland High School became official on Dec. 27 with a letter from the New England Association of Schools & Colleges to Principal Alan Tenreiro.

Although expected, School Committee Chairwoman Lisa Beaulieu and others couldn't help but contrast this year's accreditation with 10 years ago when CHS was placed on warning status.

Ten years ago, the NEASC report slapped Cumberland for "extremely limited" technology, poor building maintenance and overall low taxpayer support that "seriously hinders the effectiveness of the educational process."

A decade later, Principal Alan Tenreiro was telling the school board last week, "I was pretty sure accreditation would happen, I just didn't know it would be that positive."

Picking out highlights of a December letter from NEASC, he said the review team noted the school's "challenging 21st century learning environment," the "core values reflected within the foundation of the school," and that the committee called it a "safe and respectful" school.

Themes that emerged from the report included the praise for communication, inclusive learning environment and collaboration among staff members.

Among the recommendations, he said, NEASC wants more investment in the library/media center "to provide more resources and also more access."

He said NEASC is asking for the standard two- and five-year progress reports.

Ten years ago, CHS was on a warning status after failing two of the seven standards. The warning was removed five years and three principals later, in 2008, after a $41 million investment that added a new science wing and rebuilt whole sections of the building coupled with a major investment in new technology.

Beaulieu was one of the community leaders at the time who in 2005 tapped citizens' anxiety over their high school to win fast-tracked support for CHS2010, an initiative first begun by Mayor Dan McKee in 2002.

At last week's school board meeting, Tenreiro noted the "younger teachers" don't appreciate the significance of such a glowing report, and an older teacher told him, "A black cloud has been lifted off the high school."

Said Beaulieu, "Kudos to you and your staff for what they have done.

"Ten years ago we did not get a letter like this. It's a very powerful letter and the community should be very satisfied."

The NEASC's Janet Allison told Tenreiro, "The committee was impressed with many of the programs and services."

The commission noted in particular,

* "The development of challenging and measurable 21st century learning expectations for all students that address academic, civic and social competencies;

* "The school's core values, beliefs and 21st century learning expectation reflected within the culture, curriculum, instruction, assessment, school policies and procedures;

* "The Validation Committee's promotion of the incorporation of higher-order thinking, learner expectation and the use of school-wide rubrics in all departments;

* "The weekly common planning time in which curriculum and assessments are discussed;

* "Teachers' work toward improving instructional practices that support the school's 21 century learning expectations."

Among many other findings, the committee also noted the "positive, safe, respectful and supportive school culture that fosters student responsibility for learning and results in shared ownership, pride and high expectations for all.

Mentioned, too, was the "leadership roles assumed by teachers," and the "Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program's effectiveness in helping to transform the school culture."