DOE testing district-wide accreditation
Guam is pioneering a new form of accreditation that has piqued the interest of other school districts throughout the nation. Since his first visit to Guam, Western Association of Schools and Colleges executive director Fred Van Leuven says he's seen the Department of Education change for the better.
He told KUAM News, "There have been a lot of dramatic things that have changed here also, I was here, I think it was 2011, I was a commissioner, and I came I went to Sanchez High School as a visit, so that was my first time coming to Guam. And facility-wise, I've noticed some big changes because we've been out at some of the campuses, but the data that's now available to staff and schools has changed dramatically."
But now DOE is looking to make new waves by piloting a district-wide accreditation. "What's unique about this is it's the first pilot that we're doing," explained Van Leuven. "We have some similar things going on in Hawaii, we're doing some minor stuff in California, but this is the first time where we work directly with the district.
Superintendent Jon Fernandez said, "What we're really looking for is let's get some experts outside our system to come and look at what we're doing, and give us their input."
The district accreditation would be a first for WASC - an organization that accredits 4,600 schools in areas throughout the West Coast, as well as internationally. But Fernandez said a bold move needed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Guam schools. "I think the issue is making sure that from the superintendent down to the front lines at the schools, that we are communicating both ways, hearing the needs of our schools and being able to structure a response, whether it's resources or it's a conversation about what we're able to do and what we're not able to do," he shared.
DOE plans to accredit all schools by 2020, three per year, a goal that aligns seamlessly with the Guam Strategic Plan. Fernandez said, "Going into unchartered territory, I think that's where we want to be for Guam Department of Education, we're okay getting out there and trying something different. If it means we have an opportunity to improve our school system."
Although Van Leuven leaves Guam tomorrow after a week-long visit with island schools, he says WASC will return this November, along with interested superintendents from other districts, who hope to see progress with Guam's pilot accreditation process.