WASC » WASC: An Introduction

WASC: An Introduction

Mira Costa High School
2020-2021 Self-Study
Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accreditation Process
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges, each year, helps schools take part in community-wide self-study reflections with the intent of celebrating the achievement of learner-driven goals, as well as revising or creating new ones for continued improvement. The process is meant to be a collaborative effort, allowing all stakeholders to have a voice in the overall vision (in theory) and implementation (in practice) of programs which address specified learner outcomes aligned to community-identified learning needs. Schools participate holistically in this process--including members of the district, administration, faculty and staff, parent and community organizations, and students--which includes honest reflection on the school and community profile, prior goals and implementation strategies, focused educational practices, and a school-wide adopted action plan. This process is also used as a method for continued accreditation, which suggests that schools provide an educational experience that is aligned to certain standards of practice.
While the accreditation of a school is of obvious importance, the WASC self-study process should not be viewed as an evaluation of programs which must meet specific benchmarks. Rather, the WASC self-study report provides schools a way to consciously and explicitly reflect on the alignment of the school's overall mission to department-wide practices and even individual curriculum choices and instruction in the classroom. As such, the report should be honest, specifically-organized, and goal-oriented, and should drive major school-wide choices for the next few years of the cycle in ways that are consistent with the identified action plan of the report. The WASC process simply provides a means for open communication across the educational community.
Generally, year five of the six-year cycle begins the reflection process, through which the visiting committee validates the school's finding in the subsequent year. The visiting committee--prior to visit--reads the school's completed report, and then provides an objective and unbiased observation of the school's identified programs, practices, and needs. They may also recommend revisions to the action plan, which would then become central for the next six year's of action, and/or revisited during the three-year mid-cycle follow-up visit. 
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the nature of distance learning, Mira Costa's self-study has been extended through the 2020-2021 school year; visit will take place in Spring of 2022, extending the reflection period an additional year to account for concerns and learning practice adopted during distance learning, which will now become a major factor of the current self-study. Mira Costa's self-study reflection will seek to address broader concerns that arise both in standard practice in traditional brick-and-mortar fashion, as well as in the emergency distance learning of Spring 2020 and the state-mandated situation of Fall 2020 and on.
For Mira Costa's specific (projected) plan for our 2022 Self-study Report and Visit, please see the "Mira Costa Self-Study Preface."