High school passes accreditation process

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PARIS — Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School has been reaccredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

The announcement was made this week by school Principal Ted Moccia and Oxford Hills Technical School Director Shawn Lambert.

In the 59-page report, which is available to the public at the town library, school library, high school administrative office and the central office in Oxford, the NEASC details both positive areas and areas that need improvement in assessing the quality of education at the high school.

“There’s no shockers,” Moccia said Tuesday. “They’re all things we currently work on.”

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Moccia said the report, which reflects 10 years of work both on the local and commission levels, probably has two commendations for every one recommendation.

“It’s a great report,” Moccia said. He acknowledged the “hard work” of the staff and the steering committee both in day-to-day chores and work specific to the reaccreditation process.

The reaccreditation program is a three-fold process involving a self study by on-site educators that was conducted in the school between November  2008 and October 2010, a more recent on-site evaluation by the commission’s visiting team and the follow-up program that the local educators conduct to implement the commission’s recommendations and issues found during the self study.

In the report, the NEASC found a number of positive issues, commending school officials in a variety of areas.

In the area of curriculum, the school was commended in part for the wide use of assessment strategies and professional development, the ability of students to earn college credit through Advanced Placement programs, the variety of course offerings, the implementation of standards-based grading and the identification of clear departmental learning outcomes.

Moccia said he was particularly pleased with a commendation for the school’s safe, positive, respectful environment and the pride shown by educators and students in their school.

Moccia said the recommendations for improvement were not surprising. He noted one that called for more “depth over breadth in course materials.” He explained this as “how deep or shallow” do you teach a concept based on what assessments methods call for. He also noted a recommendation that calls for better teacher evaluation. That is something they are working hard on, he said.

Among the many technical school commendations were praise for the number of technical programs aligned to nationally recognized curriculum and/or certification, the 100 percent passing rate of the state of Maine nursing assistant tests in the Allied Health program, the high quality student work and safety in a number of programs such as building, culinary arts, forestry and wood harvesting and graphic design.

The commission did make some recommendations such as continual upgrading of technology and software for the technical students.

Continued accreditation, which is a voluntary process, requires that the school be re-evaluated at least once every 10 years and that it show progress in addressing needs that were identified during the process.

Established in 1885, the NEASC is the oldest of the six regional accrediting agencies in the United States. It awards membership and accreditation to educational institutions, including grade schools and high schools in New England.

A report detailing the plan to implement the recommendations is expected to be presented to the board next fall.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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