It was a sigh of relief and a wide smile at Revere High School (RHS) this week as news filtered out that the school had received a glowing review and a renewed accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASAC).
The accreditation process began last March when a team of educators from around the region descended upon the high school to evaluate numerous aspects of the school, including everything from curriculum to student activities.
This week, RHS Principal Lourenco Garcia learned that the school passed all seven key standards, and received nearly 40 commendations.
“An important milestone for any institution is the receipt of continued accreditation,” he said. “I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all members of his professional learning community, including staff, teachers, students, administrators, and parents for their hard work and continuous support to ensure that Revere High School students continue to benefit from a rigorous, personalized, and meaningful education. I would like to reassure all stakeholders that the school will continue to demonstrate ongoing and reflective progress to improve teaching and learning and the repertoire of pedagogical practices to promote student learning.”
Superintendent Paul Dakin said that the positive report came in part through several key changes pushed by Garcia, including a new block schedule, the Freshman Academy and plans to revamp the Library.
“I’ll tell you for certain we would have been in tough shape in this process if Dr. Garcia hadn’t put things into place so quickly in his first year here,” said Dakin. “We scored big points for the block scheduling, the Freshman Academy and the aggressiveness for which we place kids in AP classes. That Freshman Academy was a biggie.”
Likewise, Dakin also said the new Library project, to be called the Learning Commons, also demonstrated a cutting edge culture.
“His idea about the new Learning Commons showed that this is a cutting edge learning environment and that we have a staff that’s really thinking differently and following the latest research,” he said.
The full report will be rolled out at the Sept. 24th School Committee meeting. While the commendations have been made public, the criticisms – mostly about behind-the-scenes curriculum development – will be held until the School Committee meeting.
Some of the 40 commendations included:
•Challenging and measureable 21st century learning expectations that address academic, social, and civic competencies for all students
•Dual enrollment, Virtual High School, and Massachusetts General Hospital partnerships that allow the school to maintain a broad curriculum and provide opportunities for students beyond the school walls
•Use of Professional Learning Groups to develop and revise curriculum
•Curricular and practical emphasis on responsible and ethical use of technology
•Richness of technology available to teachers that offers teachers the potential to deliver the curriculum in a variety of ways
•The frequency of scheduled teacher collaboration time used to discuss best practices, create common assessments, and provide feedback concerning instructional practices
•iWalkthroughs, informal classroom visits, and teacher-to-teacher observation that provides feedback to enhance instruction
•The willingness of teachers to share their expertise with peers
•The overwhelming enthusiasm for professional development done in professional learning groups and T3 sessions (Teachers Teaching Teachers)
•The inclusion of assessment practices as a focus of the professional development for the 2011 school year
•The implementation of authentic change including the advisory program, RHS Freshman Academy, the block schedule, and common planning time for teachers
•The implementation of a student/teacher advisory program
•A positive, safe, and secure learning environment for all students
•The school’s provision for ample opportunity for in-house professional development for teachers
•The cooperative and supportive relationships between the superintendent, school committee and the principal
•The RHS Learning Commons infusion into the school of technology, ranging from computers for student use to the installation of a media lab for class and student technology and media project work that benefits all learners
•The nursing staff that is a resource for many programs and services that are available to the students
•The school’s use of social workers who do extensive outreach to students through a variety of strategies supporting student empowerment and self-reference
•Adequate funding from the community supports the new leadership, informed and updated programs, and professional development
•The school site and physical plant are maintained to ensure an exceptionally clean building in good condition
•Efforts to ensure that classrooms are equipped with ample white boards, SMARTBoards, document readers, floating carts with laptops, and the RHS Learning Common equipped with 90 computers for student use
•The partnership with MGH that ensures students health and well-being and funds extra-curricular activities.