Monday, March 16, 2015

AdvancED Impressed by Students’ Work Ethic

Adam Terasinski | Copy Editor
The school’s five year improvement project in writing has seen significant success according to the external review and the steering committee.

Five years ago the school decided to work on improving students’ writing in all classes.. Since 2011, teachers have included more writing in their assignments.. In addition to this, a writing assessment was given during the second semester to the student body to track improvement.

“Our main goal, the writing goal, has shown that writing has improved in a variety of different classes,” Sister Carol Jean VanDenHemel, O.S.B. said. VanDenHemel was part of the steering committee, which spearheaded the writing project. Her duties were to score the assessments and write the written report about the projects goals with English teacher, Eileen Sullivan.

The AdvancED group spent hours writing up their observastions in the conference room.
photo by Adam Terasinski
The written reports were accompanied by a series of graphs and charts. Looking at the statistical data alone, I could tell that our writing scores have improved,” said Curriculum Director Jason Mackeprang, who converted the reports into data.

The statistical data and written reports are considered “hard artifacts” that show the school’s progress. These artifacts were one piece of a comprehensive report given to a group from AdvancEd, a national accrediting organization comprised of state and local officials.

“Two of the representatives are from the state itself and the others are nominated by Mount Michael,” said VanDenHemel. The school sought to nominate people who had a background working with Catholic Schools in the area.

While writing was the main goal, it was not the only area that AdvancED evaluated. Group members observed classrooms and also interviewed many students to grasp an idea of what it is like being a student at Mount Michael.

“They were impressed most by our students and spoke very highly of the work our students do,” VanDenHemel said, “they got the impression that our students know why they are here and that made us [the faculty] very happy.”

In terms of improvement, the committee did note that technology is an area of weakness for the school.

“It’s more than computers though,” Mackeprang said, “it’s the staff’s development with technology and incorporating all of that into the classroom effectively.

Head of School David Peters has been working to hire a full time head of technology in an effort to remedy some of the technological issues. The final decision will be announced in the coming months.

In addition to technology, the next area of focus will likely to come from surveys that students fill out. While the five year period focusing on improved writing has ended, writing will still be incorporated across the school’s curriculum and measured with the assessment currently in place.