The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) has notified the Everett School Committee that its Commission on Public Secondary Schools, after a lengthy study, has approved the continuance of Everett High School’s official accreditation.
“I feel very positive about Everett High, about what was accomplished throughout the accreditation process, and what the future holds,” Superintendent of Schools Frederick F. Foresteire said. “Earning this designation is a testament to the work of our School Committee, Principal Erick Naumann, Vice Principal Omar Easy, and all of our teachers and administrators.”
Accreditation is of paramount importance to students as they apply to college or pursue any kind of advanced study or training. It also recognizes that a school has undergone a thoughtful self-reflection guided by meticulous peer review. Accreditation by NEASC assures that its members:
• Strive to achieve rigorous and common standards in education
• Demonstrate substantive institutional commitment to continual improvement
• Commit to balancing the creative tensions that exist between local autonomy and public authority
• Nurture individual creative accomplishment
The visiting committee came to EHS in October 2011 and evaluated the high school based on standards of teaching and learning as well as support for education from within the school and the community. As a result, EHS was awarded full accreditation.
Headed by veteran social studies teacher Peter Lahey, the NEASC committee at EHS drafted a Two-Year Report in October of 2013, which detailed how the school has been responding to the various recommendations that were offered by the committee in 2011.
NEASC was especially pleased to hear about the school’s focus on excellence in teaching and learning. EHS teachers have been consistently working on using student-centered teaching strategies in their classrooms through initiatives such as KEYS to Literacy, Pre-AP training, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL. EHS teachers have spent more time working within Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) to increase collaboration among professional staff. Everett has also partnered up with Revere, Winthrop, Chelsea, and Malden as part of the Five District Partnership in an effort to unify curriculum across these neighboring gateway communities.
“The Accreditation process is helpful to us because it reminds us that the work of education is ongoing, and we can never be satisfied with what we have,” said Ryan McGowan, the high school’s senior class Dean and member of the NEASC committee.
In their response letter to the Two-Year Report, NEASC officials continued to be pleased with many aspects of Everett High School. The letter cited the development of quarterly interim assessments, the provision of a safe and effective learning environment, and the expanded access to online sources in the library as evidence that the high school is a quality place for a teenager to receive an education despite the many challenges faced by Everett’s students.
NEASC was happy that EHS continues to provide adequate financial support for its schools, thanks to the work of Central Administration staff and members of the Everett School Committee.
Going forward, NEASC suggested that EHS continue its work in streamlining curriculum across all content areas to emphasize 21st century learning expectations, and provide further professional development to teachers in the personalization of learning and finding ways to engage students in their own learning.
Lahey, the EHS committee chair, stressed that the teacher-driven Accreditation process is a centerpiece of improving education for all Everett students.
“Working collaboratively with colleagues on how to improve teaching has been the most rewarding activity I’ve been involved in at EHS,” Lahey said. “When teachers have the time to reflect on their practice, it is the students who benefit.”
In March of 2016, a Five-Year Progress Report will be due, and then the cycle will begin again as EHS will start to prepare for the arrival of the next Visiting Committee in 2021. In the meantime, Everett teachers and administrators will surely be hard at work to keep up with cutting-edge trends in education to ensure that our students continue to receive a top-notch education.