Telstar H.S. makes gains in accreditation evaluation
In the wake of a poor score in the new state school “report card” grading system, Telstar High School Principal Dan Hart had some good news to report to his students at a recent school-wide assembly.
A followup review by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges recently gave Telstar 20 commendations for its work to address recom-mendations made at the last full accreditation re-view in 2008.
There were no further recommendations made, Hart said, although the school will continue to work on the issues ad-dressed.
“It really is huge,” he told the students to applause.
The NEASC evaluates New England high schools every 10 years to see if they meet the organiza-tions standards for aca-demic accreditation. They look at areas that include the school mission state-ment, expectations for student learning, curricu-lum, assessment, school and community resources, leadership and organization, Hart said.
“It’s more thorough than the report card from the state,” he said.
In 2008, said Hart, Telstar was put on probation for work that was needed on a wide range of school-wide assessments and application of the resulting data.
NEASC made recommendations for Telstar to work on in all eight of the basic areas evaluated and broke those down into 40 more detailed topics.
Two years later the school updated NEASC on its progress coming away with 20 recommendations on which to continue work. The most recent report found no recommendations were needed.
Hart provided examples of recommended areas the school worked on.
One, he said, is interdis-ciplinary instruction.
“Every staff member has participated with another member not in their de-partment,” he said. “In a small school there’s not as much opportunity for var-ied instruction, so by get-ting together we can im-prove on that.”
A math teacher and a vocational teacher, for instance, worked together for a time on a project in-volving measuring and mapping out parts of the school grounds.
He also said school cur-riculum was improved to promote more higher-level thinking among students.
As for the 20 commenda-tions received, Hart said they were for efforts in-cluding the Satellite advisory groups, the Community Service program, Student of the Month pro-gram, a technology plan and the development of higher-order thinking, inquiry, and problem solv-ing curriculum.
In another part of his presentation to students, Hart praised them for re-cent results in the North-western Evaluation Asso-ciation test, which THS has used in the fall and spring for a decade to as-sess performance by pri-marily ninth- and 10th-graders in four subjects.
This spring, he said, “We saw a huge improvement in scores.”
In any given year, he said, improvement aver-ages one or two points per student. This spring most students gained five to 10 points, with some making gains of five to 15 points and others gaining five to 15 points, he said.
“Thank you so much for your effort,” Hart told the student body.
He said later that stu-dents like taking the test because it is computer-based and provides imme-diate feedback.