Last year, the district newsletter highlighted the March 2015 visit of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, commonly known as NEASC. The purpose of the visit was to validate the self-study that was completed by the faculty over a two-year period and to measure compliance with educational best practice, as defined by the seven standards of NEASC: Core Values, Guiding Beliefs & Learning Expectations, Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment of and for Student Learning, School Culture and Leadership, School Resources for Learning, and Community Resources for Learning.
Framed by Shepaug’s accomplishments as a vision-driven school, teachers, students and administrators spoke to the visiting committee of educators about the Shepaug Core Values, Guiding Beliefs and Learner Outcomes as well as the newly written curriculum and assessment system. Most importantly, our students enthusiastically described the personalized, caring environment of their school.
The outcome of the visit is a ninety-nine page report that details how the Shepaug Experience demonstrates adherence to the seven standards, and a three-page letter from the accreditation committee affirming Shepaug Valley School as an accredited institution until 2025. These documents can be viewed below in PDF format.
Shepaug received twenty-eight commendations that represent each of the seven standards, including the following:
core values are the bedrock of this learning community;
- curriculum was described as aligned with the school’s important learning expectations;
- instruction was praised as heterogenous grouping and differentiation to ensure that all students are properly challenged; and,
- assessment was cited for regular use of formative assessment to gauge student learning and inform instruction.
In addition to commending Shepaug’s adherence to teaching and learning standards, the support standards were also praised. School Culture and Leadership were characterized by the safe, positive, respectful culture pervasive in the school. School Resources reflected many supports offered to support student achievement, and Community Resources were described as support from the community through consistent and dependable funding for schools and programs.
Five recommendations for the future, which will be addressed immediately, are equally strong because they represent efforts that are underway at Shepaug:
- completing curriculum to ensure documented rigor in all content areas, as well as
- completing all curriculum documents pre-K to 12;
- addressing deficiencies in the science labs to ensure the successful delivery of a 21st century science curriculum;
- ensuring the consistent input of the library media center in the school’s curriculum; and,
- to establish consistency in the expectations for students opting for the Honors Challenge.
Most important is the overarching belief by the Shepaug learning community that rigorous, research-based standards are not archived documents but living practices that embody the collective professional conduct of our faculty, staff, and administration. The overwhelmingly positive balance of commendations and recommendations affirms what we’ve known about our school all along: Shepaug is a unique, effective school!