WASC visits results in renewed accreditation status for Buena


The Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, also known as ASC or WASC, made a visit to Buena the week of March. 13 to evaluate the school. The on-site evaluation was based on the self-study, a report produced by the faculty which would determine whether or not the school would be granted accreditation status. Buena received an initial accreditation in 1965 and has successfully completed 11 self-studies since then, with the last visit taking place in 2017.

The self-study portion of the process is an extensive report written by faculty of the school. This assesses what is working in classrooms, highlights the strengths of the school, and addresses areas for improvement. The report is divided into sections each containing a different topic which two focus group leaders are in charge of. The sections mentioned in the report included organization, curriculum, learning and teaching, assessment, and culture/SES/growth. Each teacher was each assigned a different group to report on based on their preferences.

“We spent the last year preparing our document [self-study report],” history teacher Michael Gianelli said. “We study ourselves, see what we are good at and what we need to improve on and write the document.”

The report is a summary of what happens in classrooms that should be accompanied with evidence and examples to support what is claimed. For example, if a teacher mentions that at Buena we do collaborative work, members of WASC would then expect to see group work happening upon entering classrooms during their visit.

Though the visit came to no surprise to faculty, many students were unaware of the visit and had little information about what it was about.

“I know that schools in VUSD have to pass the WASC visit, other than that I don’t know much. I just know that it’s important,” senior Joy Williams said. “Two of my teachers mentioned WASC to me and my classmates.”

WASC is an evaluation that happens every six years which grants the school accreditation if the criteria is met. As stated on their website, WASC “works to grant recognition and validation to create opportunities that improve school achievement.” The accreditation process is a lengthy 12 step procedure that is conducted by members of the committee and faculty of the school.

I think that the WASC committee had a pretty accurate understanding of our school and our strengths and areas for our growth.

— Tiffany Dyer

The accreditation process is broken up into three major components; initial visit process, self-study process/self-study visit, and follow up process. The purpose of the initial visit is for the committee team to understand the purpose, program, and operations of the school. This is followed up by a self-study report and yet another visit to evaluate the school. After the visits, the commission will take into consideration everything and decide whether accreditation will be granted to Buena.

While some students may believe that diplomas cannot be given to schools with no accreditation. However, diplomas can indeed still be given without school accreditation, but no accreditation means there is limited school funding granted by the government.

As stated on the WASC website, accreditation serves as the “foundation for quality education, which grants school achievement and improvement of a school’s program or operations.”

Members of the committee also met with students on the student forum to further understand the culture of Buena. The student forum is a group of students that from the month of February met during BARK to discuss various topics relating to school life at Buena. The representatives of the commission ranged from a variety of school departments. The meeting was intensively collaborative with questions and answers being given by both students of Buena and members of the committee.

It was revealed that same week that Buena High School will continue being an accredited school. Which as stated by vice principal Tiffany Dyer means a diploma from here counts and matters.

“I think that the WASC committee had a pretty accurate understanding of our school and our strengths and areas for our growth,” Dyer mentioned. “They definitely acknowledged a lot of great things about Buena.”