High school wants own report card from community

Accreditation spurs efforts to upgrade school's standards

Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Juneau-Douglas High School is asking the public to grade the school, and teachers are asking themselves how to improve it.

It's all part of an accreditation review resulting in a plan to improve the roughly 1,700-student high school.

``Being aware of where you want to head is probably equally important to knowing where you're at,'' JDHS teacher and Accreditation Committee member Mark Roschy told the school's site council earlier this month.

JDHS and its predecessor have been accredited since 1927, according to the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.

This is the first time JDHS has used the accreditation association's performance-based model, established in 1990. In the past, accreditation looked at topics such as courses, library books, activities and the building.

``We're now looking at outcomes, rather than inputs like the number of library books,'' said Stowell Johnstone, secretary of the Alaska committee of the association's schools commission.

The association doesn't ask for specific standards, but it now says schools must have them and show improvement in student performance, said Executive Director David Steadman from Boise, Idaho. The improvements will be checked every year.

``Largely, it's a call from the public and from businesses indicating the students who were being graduated were not able to do a lot of things,'' Steadman said.

Teachers in each department have developed ``desired learner results'' - what students can do when they graduate, said teacher Barb Mecum, an Accreditation Committee member.

The public will be involved through an opinion survey now, and by working on the school improvement plan in the spring, said Assistant Principal Kathryn Milliron, facilitator of the committee.

``The high school is a reflection of the community,'' she said. ``We do want to know how they perceive the high school and our teaching staff.''

The committee is asking the public to grade JDHS on content standards and assessments, Native and other minority student success, preparing students for work, and improving healthy attitudes and behaviors.

Those are the school district's four strategies for this school year. The survey points out the ways the high school has tried to meet those goals.

They range from setting standards in math and English to alternative programs such as CHOICE and Yaakoosge Daakahidi to the Teen Health Center and Students for Social Responsibility.

Site council facilitator Lance Carpenter is concerned the survey and the strategies it refers to may be too broad.

``The questions aren't pointed enough, I don't think. They're not written in a way that will really draw the kind of criticism that's intended,'' Carpenter said. ``There probably needs to be some focus groups to really attack it.''

Milliron will explain the accreditation process to parents from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 23 and from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 24 in the JDHS auditorium. The Accreditation Committee also has been contacting business and community groups about the survey.

Survey copies are available by calling 463-1900 or through the school district's Web site by going to www.jsd.k12.ak.us/. Look under the JDHS section of the district Web site.



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