Report shows school improvement

The Westwood High School Progress Report, written for a visit from the evaluating committee for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges March 25, highlights significant changes that enhance the education of local students. These changes were implemented after the accreditation commission’s mid-cycle review in October 2017. The high school was given a six-year accreditation in 2015.

There were several improvements according to the report. Each Monday, school is adjourned early in order for staff to participate in professional development and professional learning communities. Six career technical education pathways provide opportunities for students to learn new skills. Students are being more closely monitored by a new academic counselor to make sure they have an opportunity to meet university requirements and parent/student workshops are held on a regular basis.

A recommendation given during the committee visit in 2017 to move from a traditional math pathway (Algebra, Geometry and Algebra II) to an integrated math pathway (Integrated I, Integrated II and Integrated III) was implemented. The district adopted Big Idea’s Math integrated curriculum.

The report states: “The change from a traditional pathway to an integrated pathway has shown to be very helpful to our students. By including standards from all areas of mathematics every year, instead of breaking sections up to specific years, we are seeing that our students are obtaining a fuller picture of how mathematics works together in the real world and how problem solving skills can be used across standards.”

After integrated math was implemented students receiving a C or better in math went from 43 percent to 68 percent.

Two new areas of concern, the student suspension rate and chronic absenteeism are being addressed. To prevent suspensions, rules are communicated through a variety of mediums, students are being counseled and teachers trained in classroom management. To address absenteeism, alternative methods of instruction are offered such as independent study and online credit recovery. In addition, the school and probation department have a strong communication system. Monthly meetings are held with students, parents and school officials to identify reasons for poor attendance as well as consequences.

There are many reasons why Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation is important. California’s university system only accepts students who have completed the college prep course list at an accredited school; Cal Grants are only given to students from accredited schools; military recruiters expect their applicants to be from accredited schools; and many school districts have policies in place to only accept transfer credits from accredited schools.