Summer school program seeking accreditation

Summer school at La Cañada High School may be poised to enter its second year as a program operated by the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation, but it still has not yet been accredited. Organizers hope to achieve that distinction by 2013.

The foundation began hosting a fee-based summer school program on the high school campus beginning last summer, after the cash-strapped La Cañada Unified cut its own summer school in July 2010 to save $87,405 annually.

Jinny Dalbeck, a former La Cañada school board member and chairman of the foundation's summer school, said the program's administrators recently met with David Brown, executive director of the accreditation commission for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The next step, Dalbeck said, is a visit by the association's reviewers.


FOR THE RECORD: This story has been updated from a previous version


Dalbeck said it is important for the summer school to be accredited so it will be easier for out-of-district students to transfer its credits to their own high schools.

“We have kids from St. Francis, Arcadia, Sacred Heart, Mayfield, CV High School,” she said. “If we are a stand-alone WASC-accredited institution, then our students can easily transfer units to their home schools.”

Linda Evans, one the program's 2012 session principals, said that the foundation-administered summer school needs to meet the same standards as programs at other schools.

“If this is a stand-alone program, we want it to stand on its merits and demonstrate that through its WASC affiliation,” she said. “If you are running a school program, you want it to be WASC-certified.”

According to Brown, of WASC's accrediting commission, if the educational foundation's summer school is maintaining the same standards of the summer school formerly run by the district, accreditation shouldn't be a problem.

“If it's the same staff, and basically the same instructional objectives, then there's very little to be done [for approval],” said Brown, a former principal of La Cañada High. “They are already accredited for providing Algebra I, for example, and if they do that in the [number of classroom] minutes that are acceptable to the state, then we accredit them.”

Still, this doesn't mean the accreditation process for the summer school has been short or skimpy, said Dalbeck.

“It's more like, ‘What don't we have to show them?'” Dalbeck said. “We have to provide course pacing guides, course outlines, showing what textbooks are used. All of that is the same as if you were going through a full-blown WASC accreditation.”

Evans said the foundation is also required to write an extensive report and provide its students' success data, rate of completion and do extensive surveys of students, parents and staff members.

Brown said schools seek WASC accreditation because the University of California system requires it for several categories of course requirements that are mandated for acceptance.

Additionally, Evans said the summer school currently requires out-of-district students to obtain approval from their home schools before enrolling to avoid any potential curriculum mismatches, but WASC accreditation would streamline the process.

Dalbeck said that as long their high school accepts their summer school credits, students need not worry about UC requirements.

“Once [a high school] has accepted a course, then when a UC or private college looks at a transcript, they look at that course as if it were taken from the home school,” she said.

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