Written by Matthew Hamilton
Published in the April 17, 2015 issue
The informal findings of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) visit were shared with the Gunn administration and staff on March 25. The results showed that while Gunn offers a variety of high-level courses, various achievement gaps need to be addressed. The official results along with the accreditation will be published in June.
WASC is an institution that accredits high schools to ensure the education and learning environment is sufficient. Accreditation allows colleges to ensure students applying have received a quality education in high school.
In a presentation to teachers and administrators, WASC members laid out changes they would like to see before their next visit in six years. Among these were changing the definitions of success at Gunn and closing socioeconomic achievement gaps. WASC members believed success should be felt by minorities at Gunn. In their presentation they asked Gunn to “increase achievement for all learners at Gunn High School, especially our African American, Latino, Socioeconomically Disadvantaged, English Language Learners, and Special Education Students” as an area for growth.
To help close achievement gaps, WASC recommended Gunn use a Response To Intervention (RTI) model in order to recommend certain students for additional help based on their in- class performance. “We need to coordinate all the different intervention methods so we can reach students in just the right time to help when they need it,” WASC coordinator Meg Omainsky said.
Finally WASC felt that the definition of success at Gunn should be altered. “Success is more than how well you do in a class,” Omainsky said. “Success is the opportunity to explore and feel that you are learning, to bring your passion to the classroom, beyond traditional metrics of achievement.”
The presentation notes areas in which Gunn excels as well. The resiliency of the Gunn community particularly impressed WASC visitors. Gunn’s ability to recover after a tragedy and the bond between students and teachers stood out to visitors. “The visiting team saw that students care about being at Gunn and students feel connected at Gunn and proud of their school,” Omainsky said.