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High School links accreditation progress to preparation for proficiency education

Cape Elizabeth's move toward proficiency-based education is also helping the High School maintain its accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Jeff Shedd, principal at the High School, told the School Board on Nov. 14, 2017 that he was late submitting a special progress report to NEASC, the agency that sets standards and award accreditations for effective schools, because he and his staff have been busy working on standards for state-mandated proficiency-based education.

In fact, Shedd said, he was thinking of asking NEASC for an extension, but then realized how many of the short-term recommendations in the 2016 accreditation report overlapped the school's work toward proficiency standards.

"I was pleasantly surprised," Shedd said. "But not entirely surprised."

NEASC's Committee on Public and Secondary Schools voted to continue Cape High School's accreditation in October 2016, with many commendations but also asking for a progress report on four short-term recommendations, most having to do with schoolwide rubrics.

As part of his report, Shedd highlighted three areas where work on proficiency education is also addressing NEASC recommendations:

  • "Learning targets" established for ninth-graders this year are addressing a call to establish criteria for success tied to 21st Century Learning Expectations;
  • New "Habits of Work" grades address a recommendation to develop measures of student achievement of civic and social components of 21st Century Learning Expectations;
  • And, a "Great School Partnership" is helping the school develop scoring criteria for graduation standards, also addressing a recommendation for professional development for writing criteria for success.

"All of that work dovetails really nicely," Shedd told members of the board.

Last December, when Shedd announced that the school's accreditation had been continued, he said it was not unusual to have to file special progress reports on short-term recommendations. "The NEASC visiting team said these are the areas that are the most important based on NEASC standards," Shedd said.

As an accreditation agency, NEASC sets standards for effective schools. "And then they every 10 years send a team into a school to see how the school is doing against those standards and against the self-study that the school spends a long time preparing," he said.

Cape Elizabeth High School hosted the NEASC team for its accreditation renewal in March 2016 after completing a 102-page self-study. After receiving the accreditation report, the school is responsible for filing any required special progress reports, followed by a two-year report and a five-year report before the next 10-year continuation report and visit.