Accreditation site team wraps up visit to Cazenovia High School

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A nearly two-year period of intense self-scrutiny at Cazenovia High School – which began in 2011 with a comprehensive survey and continued with the formation of committees, goals and action plans – finally draws to a close today. It all began in the fall of 2011, when the high school set out to renew its accreditation with the prestigious Middle States Association of College and Schools. Screen shot 2013-08-23 at 12.04.50 AMFar from simply filling out a form and popping it in the mail, the process requires schools to conduct a comprehensive self-study and evaluation, and then draft a series of detailed action plans for improvement, to be implemented over the course of the next seven years. Cazenovia High School formed six committees and developed 12 action plans, tackling everything from academics to inadequate water fountains. “Soup to nuts,” said Eric Jerabek, who heads the school’s science department and served as one of three internal coordinators throughout the process, along with special education teacher Robin Costello and Vice Principal Susan Vickers. To identify areas in need of improvement, the coordinators surveyed every student and school employee and all the community members they could find. Then they sifted through the results, including some 3,000 comments. “We wanted to find out, what are the things we really need to fix?” Mr. Jerabek said. At a time when educators must comply with an ever-lengthening list of top-down initiatives from state and federal agencies, it was refreshing to engage in a grassroots assessment, Ms. Costello said. “This is about us fixing us,” Ms. Costello said. The process culminated this week with a rigorous, four-day, on-site review conducted by a team of peers from other accredited institutions, who since Monday have been assessing how well Cazenovia High School did in its self-examination. The site team’s concludes today with a public presentation of the Middle States Validation Team’s initial findings. The presentation is at  3 p.m. in the high school library, and is open to the public.

“They’ll be asking, ‘Are our action plans realistic and do they support the objectives?’” Ms. Costello said.

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