So What Can I Expect When I Serve on an NEASC/CPSS Visiting Team? A Primer for New Team Members
I volunteered to serve; now what . . . • I returned the postcard to the CPSS office agreeing to serve on a Visiting Team next fall. • I’d like to know what this means beyond four days away from home and school.
I’ve heard the experience is very professionally rewarding, and I will be very busy. • What does the schedule look like?
A typical Sunday at the school 10 – 11 am arrive at school or hotel (your chair will tell you which place) and meet with my team 1 pm – Panel presentation by school representatives 2:30 pm – Meet with School Board OR a group of parents 3:15 pm – Conduct two one-half hour teacher interviews 4:30 – attend reception at school
A typical Sunday back at the hotel 6 pm – dinner with visiting team 7 pm – review information learned from teacher interviews and meetings; review school’s mission 8 pm – review and discuss student work collected by school 9:15 pm – review Monday’s schedule and Q and A
A Typical Monday at the School • Tour the school • Attend a variety of meetings (depending upon the Standard to which I have been assigned) • Shadow a student for a half-day (two-thirds of team) • Meet with the committee from the school who prepared the Self-Study report for my Standard • Your chair will provide you with a detailed schedule
A Typical Monday at the Hotel • Dinner with my team • Review and share information learned from meetings, tour and shadowing • Begin to write my report with my partner
A Typical Tuesday at the School Morning: • Student shadowing for half-day (for one-third of team) • Meetings • Classroom observations • Continuation of report writing Afternoon: • Present a report or hear other reports
A typical Tuesday evening at the hotel • Continue writing • Hear/discuss reports
Wednesday at the school • Breakfast and check out of hotel; drive to school • Hear final reports in workroom at school • Continue classroom observations • Attend final meeting at close of school day with my team to hear our Chair’s remarks to school
What must I do to prepare before the visit? • Read carefully all the information I receive from the chair and from the school • Make notes as I read • Call or email my chair or assistant chair with questions I might have
What Can I Expect from my chair? • A letter of introduction • A personal contact by phone prior to the team visit • A team list which tells me the Standard to which I will be assigned • A schedule for the visit • An Evaluator Guide and other materials to read • Willingness to answer any questions I have prior to and during the visit
What Can I Expect from the School? • Hotel information and directions • Basic information about the school • A copy of the parts of the Self-Study I will need to read to do my work during the visit
What Can I Expect at the hotel? • A single room • A workroom equipped with all the materials I’ll need • Breakfast and dinner (lunch will be at school)
What Should I bring with me? • Professional dress for three days • Comfortable clothing for evening meetings • Possibly a laptop computer, if you wish, but technology will be available for the team • An open mind . . .
Sunday, Busy Sunday • It looks as if Sunday will be very busy and I want to be especially well-prepared • What can I do?
Planning Ahead . . . • Become very familiar with the Standard to which I have been assigned, the Self-Study section for my Standard, and the school’s mission and expectations • Read my Evaluator Guide carefully and pay particular attention to the section that follows the actual Standard “What to Look For” and the prompts that follow (approximately page 8, depending on the Guide)
The Evaluator Guides • Note the prompts that follow each indicator because they will form the basis of the report I will eventually write. • For example, in Curriculum, Indicator 4: “The content of the curriculum shall engage all students in inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking skills as well as provide opportunities for the authentic application of knowledge and skills.”
A sample from the Curriculum Evaluator Guide Each of the following prompts address Indicator 4: • Are students engaged in inquiry, problem solving and higher order thinking skills in all courses, regardless of level? Can you find examples of these practices in the classroom? • Are all students asked to apply knowledge (e.g., to analyze, evaluate, synthesize, compare/contrast, etc.)? • Are all students given opportunities for the authentic application of knowledge (e.g., writing for audiences beyond the classroom, participating in internships, making presentations to the public, etc.)?
A sample from the Assessment of Student Learning Evaluator Guide Each of the following prompts address Indicator 1:The school shall have a process to assess school-wide and individual student progress in achieving the academic expectations in the mission based on school wide rubrics. • What process does the school employ in order to determine school-wide achievement of the academic expectations expressed in the mission? How are school wide rubrics employed in the process? • What process does the school employ in order to determine individual student progress in achieving the academic expectations expressed in the mission? How are school wide rubrics employed in this process?
A Sample from the Leadership and Organization Evaluator Guide Each of the following prompts address Indicator 6: The schedule shall be driven by the school's mission and expectations for student learning and shall support the effective implementation of curriculum, instruction and assessment. • Does the schedule allow teachers to utilize varied instructional strategies and practices? • Does the schedule provide teachers with common planning time to ensure the most effective delivery of the curriculum? • Is the schedule flexible? • Does the schedule support approaches like interdisciplinary learning? • Does the schedule support authentic and alternative assessment practices? Look for specific examples.
A Sample from Community Resources for Learning Evaluator Guide Each of the following prompts address Indicator 3:The school site, plant, and equipment shall support and enhance all aspects of the educational program and the support services for student learning. • Is the size of the facility adequate to support all educational programs and support services? • Does the facility include all those components necessary for full implementation of the educational program and support services (e.g., science labs, media center, sufficient number of classrooms, etc.)? • Have any aspects of the educational program or support services been compromised by a lack of space or other facility issue? • Do staff members have the equipment they need for their work with students?
Finally . . . • Don’t forget to call or write your chair or assistant chair with questions • Be prepared to work hard, learn a great deal, work collaboratively with your team, and have a new understanding of the Standards for Accreditation to assist your own school with improvement efforts!
Thank you for your service on a visiting team!