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The following Guest Column appeared in the January 5, 2006
issue of the Wayland Town Crier.

School Committee: Thoughts on accreditation
By Wayland School Committee/ Guest Columnists
Thursday, January 5, 2006

Wayland High School participates in a 10-year accreditation cycle with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Approximately all high schools and colleges in New England receive accreditation through this association.

During the last two-and-a-half years, Wayland High participated in a very lengthy and detailed process to prepare for the culminating visit by a team from NEASC. The visiting team studied a self-analysis prepared by the faculty and administration and they determined the degree to which WHS met specific standards for accreditation. The final report of the NEASC Commission was released this fall and we are very pleased that WHS was granted continued full accreditation.

The school was commended across a broad spectrum of standards. However, the commission also cited several major concerns that they believe seriously impact teaching and learning at the high school, as well as compromise the safety and welfare of the students and staff.

Typically, a school district has two years to respond with a plan to address the recommendations of the commission and five years to resolve the problems. However, in extreme instances, the commission will require an immediate Special Progress Report from a district detailing the ways in which the district plans to remedy specific concerns. Unfortunately, we received such a request due to the condition of the facility.

The commission was impressed with many of the programs and services at Wayland High School. Some of their commendations include:

The mission statement represents the core values and beliefs of the school community and serves to "unite and inspire the school as a community of learners."

The range of instructional strategies successfully personalizes instruction, engages students as active and self-directed learners, involves all students in higher order thinking to promote depth of understanding, and reflects the mission and expectations for student learning.

The significant number of co-curricular organizations and clubs that are available contribute to students' ethical, social and civic development.

The commission expressed its serious concern related to a number of facilities, space, and health and safety issues. Specific concerns include:
  • The limited extent to which the present school site and plant support all aspects of the educational program and services.
  • The severe overcrowding throughout the building, including the number of small classrooms.
  • The practice of overusing classrooms.
  • The inadequate plumbing and electrical systems infrastructure.
  • The inadequate infrastructure for technology.
  • The failure of the current physical plant and facilities to meet all applicable federal and state laws and maintain compliance with local, fire, health and safety regulations.
  • The corridors which are narrow, below code requirements, resulting in egress that is compromised in an emergency.
The commission requested that Wayland submit a Special Progress Report by April 1, 2006, providing detailed information on action taken to address the following recommendations:
  • Provide sufficient classroom space to adequately meet the educational needs of all students.
  • Provide a facility that is fully in compliance with all building codes and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) handicapped accessibility requirements.
  • Develop and implement a plan to provide a technology infrastructure that meets the instructional needs of students of the 21st century.
  • Correct the conditions causing improper lighting, including glare, and all electrical system deficiencies.
  • Immediately correct the conditions preventing proper air quality, heating and ventilation in all spaces used for instruction.
  • Install a sprinkler system in all areas of the building to which students have access.
If Wayland fails to demonstrate adequate progress for each recommendation, the commission can recommend the school be placed on probation, with a possible outcome of termination of our accreditation. Over the next few months, the School Committee, along with the administration, will study the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) draft guidelines expected in January and the results of the High School Building Committee's survey to develop the Special Progress Report.

Please visit "www.waylandschoolcommittee.org" to review the full report. Copies are also available at the school offices and public library. Also, please feel free to join us for the budget work sessions scheduled for Jan. 9, 12 and 17.

The members of the Wayland School Committee are Jeff Dieffenbach (chairman), Robert Gordon (vice-chairman), Barbara Fletcher, Louis Jurist and Heather Pineault.
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