NHIS going through another check up

WASC Accreditation team to visit in April


Kylie Butler

After last being accredited in 2013, NHIS will be going through another WASC accreditation process from April 3 to 5, 2017.

However, this time, it will be a full self-study visit unlike the re-visit conducted in 2013.

WASC stands for Western Association of Schools and Colleges and according to its website: “The philosophy of the Accrediting Commission for Schools centers upon three beliefs: (1) a school’s goal is successful student learning; (2) each school has a clear purpose and schoolwide student goals; and (3) a school engages in external and internal evaluations as part of continued school improvement to support student learning.”

Kimberly Coleman, an instructional coach at NHIS said, “WASC is the Western Association of Schools, it is a process that our school goes through depending on a certain number of years. Where people who are called accreditors are going to come and evaluate the school’s progress the overall environment and kind of give us a progress report card.”

So in April, a team of current and former educators, chaired by Dr. John Sugiyama from California, will be visiting NHIS. The team will be visiting every classroom, interviewing students, teachers, staff, parents, and even community members.

But while the WASC team is coming in April, the work has been going on since last school year. The school has been working on a report that is to be submitted in February that looks at all aspects of the school.

“The WASC full self-study report is a comprehensive report based on criteria set by WASC and the Hawaii DOE. It is a process that has the school stakeholders review data and assess progress in various areas of the school,” said, NHIS WASC Coordinator, Robin Kitsu.

The committee will look at the progress of our school in various areas such attendance, behavior, college and career readiness, academics, and supports for students and teachers based on a report that the school creates.

“For our school or any school that is WASC accredited, the benefits of it is that when you as a student decided to go to a university or college then the receiving school will see that the high school the student came from was accredited. Then they know that you as a student who’s coming in applying and enrolling at their school is coming from a school that is recognized by an accreditation commission,” said, Darin Pilialoha, NHIS principal.

According to Kitsu, many people look at this process as a pass fail and that is not correct. The WASC grants schools a six year status but it could come with a mid cycle review. There is also a one or two year status. Finally, a school could get their accreditation status withheld if the WASC team finds compelling reasons that the school is not meeting the needs of students.

“No school is perfect. What WASC wants to see is that the school is using data and analyzing the data to make decisions that will impact student achievement. So even if our scores are not the highest, it does not mean we cannot get six years. We just need to show that we understand what our school’s needs are and how we are addressing them,” said, Kitsu.

But it seems many students are not aware of the WASC visitation and it’s impact on the school and students. If NHIS does not get accredited, it could affect seniors getting into college or receiving scholarships.

“I think a lot of it is just getting everyone to understand what the WASC process is about and how big of a role they play in helping us tell our story as a school. We can state our challenges but it’s really were really trying to sell ourselves as a school that were providing the best learning environment the best education for you guys as students,” said Pilialoha.

Some teachers are aware of what the WASC visitation means.

”How does WASC affect me? Well because we’re going through accreditation this year so I have to go to meetings and we discuss what kind of things were providing for our students,” said, Kristine Ginoza, eighth grade teacher.”

But a new situation is also occurring this school year as all three schools will be going through accreditation at the same time. The goal is to have the three schools articulate and share what each school faces and how they can work together to help all students in the valley.