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La Cañada High School preps for WASC visit

Educators say the campus is ready for accreditation team.

March 13, 2013|By Peter Day

Administrators, teachers and students at La Cañada High School next week will welcome some special guests — an accreditation team from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

From March 17-21, the seven WASC members will visit every class and teacher, interview random students, visit with school board members, and scrutinize school systems and procedures.

As one of the highest-performing public schools in the country, a positive WASC report would complement La Cañada's impressive resume. A negative report could cast a pall over the centerpiece of the La Cañada Unified School District. But aside from extensive preparation, school administrators are trying not to lose any sleep.

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“I've been to schools as a WASC member where they try and put on a show for the people,” said Jarrett Gold, the assistant principal of discipline, activities and athletics. “I think our view as an administrative staff is to show them who we are, and not put on a dog-and-pony show.”

La Cañada High, which opened in 1963, received its first WASC accreditation in 1968, according to David Brown, executive director of the accrediting commission who is also a former principal of the school. Its current accreditation is effective through the end of this school year, Brown said.

Gold, LCHS Principal Ian McFeat and Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction Jim Cartnal say they are not unduly worried about the upcoming evaluation, as the campus is prepared.

For the past two years — before McFeat came to La Cañada from Kentlake High School in Kent, Wash. — the school has worked on getting ready for this visit. And in December, the school released a three-part draft “Schoolwide Action Plan,” which is available on the district website, that identifies several key areas of need.

“The year before I came they were already laying the groundwork for this,” McFeat said.

As part of the self-study findings, the school presents a number of tasks to help the school improve. Tasks include making teacher collaboration time embedded in the school day, incorporating Common Core Standards into the current curriculum, identifying academically struggling students, researching best practices on intervention programs and strategies, and modernizing school technology infrastructure.

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