Western Association of Schools and Colleges

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States. Every district high school that grants diplomas, including charters schools, undergoes the WASC accreditation process on a regular basis

The WASC accreditation self-study examination and evaluation process provides an in-depth analysis of how well an individual school is providing a high-caliber program, powerful teaching and learning, and support for the personal and academic growth of its students. This intensive, two-year process satisfies the requirements for accreditation. It also meets the requirements of the California Department of Education’s Single Plan for Student Achievement.

The study begins by examining the composition and performance of the student body, the community served by the school (school/community profile), the expected schoolwide learning results (what the students should know, understand, and be able to do by graduation), academic standards, and the academic and support programs provided for the students. Performance is studied in a variety of ways, including the analysis of state-, district-, and site-generated data; peer observations; parent, student, and staff surveys; student work; and student shadowing.

Focus groups made up of teachers from each discipline, administrators, support and clerical staff, parents, students, and community members examine all elements of the school, using criteria for effective schools provided in the WASC Handbook. Discipline-specific groups examine curricula, instruction, and student work in light of the latest educational reform documents, research results, and content standards. From extensive discussions stimulated by this self-study examination, the quality of the school's curriculum, environment, and support services emerges.

A document, called the Self-Study Report, summarizes the findings of the focus group discussions, identifies areas of strength, and lists areas of need in priority order. The final chapter of the report includes the plan to address the areas of need. A monitoring process is identified to assess student learning based on expected schoolwide learning results and academic standards. A team of out-of-district educators subsequently reviews the report, visits the school, and recommends a term of accreditation, ranging from one to six years, to the Commission for Schools, the TK–12 accrediting body within the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

More information about WASC is available here.