The Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC) visited MC during the week of Feb. 11 for an updated accreditation of the school. For WASC specifically, “Accreditation is a voluntary dual-purpose process that schools (1) must be worthy of the trust placed in them to provide high-quality learning and (2) clearly demonstrate continual self-improvement.”
Schools must pay for these accreditations, yet the benefits ensure the rest of the nation and higher learning institutions that the schools accredited by WASC are high performing.
Students and staff noticed the presence of WASC officials throughout the week as they sat in on classes and evaluated the school grounds. MC sophomore Amanda Letzring was impacted by stricter guidelines put in place by teachers during the week.
“In my classes, [teachers] told us to put our phones away at all times,” Letzring said. “They told us to act like we were paying attention and do our job, not getting off track and really focusing. Everyone was taking this into consideration since they definitely had a more professional manner in class.”
The heightened feeling of a need to prove MC’s credibility translated into a more stressful classroom atmosphere for some students.
“I’m feeling a lot more pressure from teachers to do well lately,” senior Kyle Josafat said. “The setting feels a lot more professional and I find myself having fun less, but that might just be me. The curriculum has not changed but the pressure subconsciously has risen as a result of WASC evaluations.”
Along with a greater sense of pressure, some classes have taken extra care to ensure they have a clean topic for discussion if the evaluators were to walk in.
“There was one incident in APEL. We were talking about East of Eden, which has several controversial topics. Every five minutes our teacher would check the door to see if [the evaluators] would break in and hear us talking about some weird stuff,” junior Zenna Li said.
However, students do recognize the upsides to having the WASC accreditors present on campus.
“If it goes well and we are seen as a valid school, it really does bring a good name to our school and that really helps students,” Li said. “Most students don’t realize it, but when you go to college and you come from a school that’s held in high regard, you’re automatically better in that sense. You can be proud of that. I’m from Mt. Carmel and that’s a good thing. Prestige is really important.”
This evaluation also serves as a chance for the student body to be reflective of their successes and failures.
“It’s like when a teacher gives you an F on a test, you know you need to study. It’s an evaluation, a chance for MC to see how it can improve over time,” Josafat said.
Teachers can also use these evaluations as a way to improve their current teaching manners.
“It’s always good to do self evaluation, whether it’s the school or yourself, to see what you’re doing right and what might not be doing so good so you can get better at it,” AP Biology teacher Jodee Janda said.
In the past, MC passed the WASC evaluation with flying colors. Hopefully this year proves no different, and the results of the WASC accreditation can show the nation why MC students and staff are proud to be Sundevils.