WCEA VISITING COMMITTEE REPORT:
Areas of Improvement
- Principle A: Catholic Identity
Principle B: Organizational Efficacy
- The philosophy of the school is not well known.
- Charism of the Sisters could be advanced more.
- It is a continuing challenge to involve parents.
- Principle sufficiently met.
The Integral Student Outcomes (ISOs) are included in the student planners and displayed on banners in the hallways. Students are aware of the ISOs and know their importance. The charism of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) has been highlighted by the articulation of the Pillars of Holy Names High School (HNHS) which communicate the values of HNHS as a ministry in addition to a school.
Parents review the ISOs and the Pillars at orientation and at regular meetings during the school year. Required volunteer hours for parents were implemented for the first time in 2016/17. The reaction from parents has been positive and participation has increased to include many more parents than in the past.
Additional parent evenings were added to the calendar to address school initiatives including SAT Preparation, the college application process, the junior Kairos retreat, help with financial aid forms and other general information evenings.
Students recite the Mission Statement at many assemblies throughout the school year. The Pillars and ISOs are reviewed as part of the ninth grade class meetings and are integrated into the Advisory Program discussions.
There was significant improvement in communication with parents at the beginning of the school year. Materials sent included a year-long look at important events. (See Attachment 1)
The student planner was redesigned to include the ISOs, the Mission Statement, the daily block schedule and activities for the year. The cover and other pages throughout the planner feature our student’s artwork. (See Attachment 2)
Principle C: Excellence of Teaching and Learning
- There is missing documentation as well as lack of best practices.
- There is a history that the board has not monitored for accountability.
- Communication and collaboration are missing in the school environment.
- Need for regular meetings and feedback
- Identify issues, reflect, and review with data in order to move forward with plans.
- Need for more meaningful professional development.
- Need for consistent plan for classroom observation.
- Need for increased communication among faculty, staff and administration.
- Support staff does not feel they are participants in the processes by which they are supervised and evaluated by the administration.
- Frustration and lack of trust between faculty and administration.
- Principle insufficiently observed by the school.
The Principal/Administrative staff drafted the Three-Year Plan based on the findings of the WASC Recommendations; faculty input; and student needs identified based on standardized tests, review of student grades and anecdotal information from students and parents. Faculty were provided an overview and the opportunity to provide input before the plan is finalized in February, 2017. (See Attachment 3)
Personnel have stabilized as evidenced in the return of all teaching staff from the 2015/16 school year to the 2016/17 school year. The administrative staff has reorganized to support teachers in academic areas by cluster groups. Each department is grouped with the oversight assigned to one of the administrators. (See Attachment 4)
The Principal attends all Board meetings and sub-Committee meetings of the Board. Communications to the Board as to the activities of the students and staff are sent regularly as part of a “Friday Communication” letter. (See Attachment 5)
The Principal sends a “look ahead” to all staff most weeks to communicate upcoming events that include meetings and student activities that will affect all. (See Attachment 6)
The Board has had the opportunity to have formal and informal meetings with staff throughout the year. The Province Leadership scheduled a meeting in which all staff was invited to attend and share their perspectives on the school’s direction. Staff reported to the Province that trust has been reestablished and improved between the faculty and staff since the last WASC visit.
Professional development for faculty has included the establishment of agreements that include the posting of learning targets for students every day. Administrative staff have visited classrooms to help facilitate the process. The student information system, Schoology, was chosen by a representative group to be piloted in 2016/17, with a 2018/19 target date for full implementation by all teachers, students and parents. Administrators, fellow faculty
and the company representatives have provided training sessions on the use of the resources available from Schoology throughout the year. Faculty user groups have formed to share information and techniques.
Meetings that include all staff are scheduled for at least once a month. Department and collaboration time is scheduled for alternate Thursdays.
Recent feedback provided by staff for the finalization of the Three-Year Plan reflects staff opportunity and willingness to participate in development of goals for the school. (See Attachment 7)
Professional Development includes the implementation of “writing across the curriculum” activities in which all teachers require students to write and the student work is evaluated with a common rubric. The rubric used in the first assignment in the Fall of 2016 was a generic one chosen to use as a first pass at the exercise. Plans include the development of a rubric by staff that will be used by all staff in the evaluation of regular writing assignments. The sharing of student work and teacher application of the rubric is planned for the Spring of 2017.
The Enews is sent biweekly to parents in an effort to keep them informed. (See Attachment 8)
Principle D: The Vitality of the Co-curricular Program
- The school lacks a plan to consistently review its curriculum.
- No technology plan to direct the use of technologies as instructional resource.
- Annual reviews of instructional methodologies need to be consistent and formalized.
- Need for a comprehensive professional development plan.
- Develop a plan to evaluate student learning at the end of a unit against some standard or benchmark.
- Principle observed sufficiently.
The draft of the Three-Year Plan provided as Attachment 3 includes a section on the plans to address Holy Names’ commitment to being an academically challenging environment in which all students are prepared to continue their education in a four-year University.
Professional Development for all staff is vital to maintaining and improving teaching and learning for all students. Teachers are encouraged to participate in Professional Development opportunities and to bring their “lessons learned” back to share with staff. School-wide training in Schoology, writing across the curriculum, development of differentiation tools for teachers and the skills to address neuro-diversity student learning styles are the four areas for school-wide Professional Development emphasis. The 2017/18 calendar will reflect time in the school year for the staff to focus on professional development activities.
Dedicated staff is assigned to facilitate students who have verified needs for accommodations by working directly with teachers to adapt curriculum and assessment practices. Additional staff is scheduled to join HNHS in 2017/18 to provide direct support for students and professional development for teachers to address students with learning differences. The Advisory program, piloted this year, provides students another adult to monitor their progress.
The areas of Science and Technology continue to be underrepresented by female and minorities in the work place. All current incoming ninth graders are required to participate in Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a nationally recognized engineering program. Two teachers trained at PLTW seminars during the summer, classrooms were renovated and new state of the art teaching tools/equipment have been installed. The students report an overwhelming positive experience in the program. The Three -Year Plan includes adding advance classes each year as part of the comprehensive PLTW program offerings.
Principle E. Stewardship of Material Resources
- Need for more targeted support of English Language Learners.
- Sports teams are not as vital as they once were.
- Principle observed sufficiently.
The co-curricular activities are robust. Areas of concern remain the number of students who participate in multiple activities and are spread too thin. As enrollment increases, the demand for the same students to participate in the number of activities will lessen. The Advisor Program piloted in 2016/17 includes helping students evaluate interests and learn how to balance all activities as a part of their everyday lives.
All activities including field trips, assembly presentations, rallies and club activities must be approved ahead of time. Scripts and detailed plans are required to be approved prior to the activity proceeding. The purpose of the stricter protocols for deadlines etc. is to help students learn the complete planning process required of all groups to be successful. Keeping to the timeline has resulted in some unhappiness and learning!
The Athletic Department has added Softball to the Spring sports schedule starting in 2017.
For the first time in many years, there were more students interested in Volleyball than there were openings on the Varsity and Junior Varsity interscholastic teams. Instead of cutting students, a “Monarch Squad” was established in which the opportunity for students interested in playing were allowed to play in teams. The concept of the Monarch Squad will be expanded to include opportunities in Volleyball and Basketball. The opportunity for students to participate in sports for the first time in high school is an important value held at HNHS and we want to support it.
The sports teams and athletic program were not sufficiently included in the first draft of the Three-Year Plan and will be incorporated in the areas of “Developing the Whole Person” and in the College Preparatory sections of the Plan. The revision is in progress and will be available for the Visiting Team to review during their visit.
The Board is continuing to move forward with plans to build a Pavilion, which will include a regulation gym facility.
Principle F: Conscientious Implementation of the improvement Plan from Prior Accreditation
- Higher enrollment standards might have not had a beneficial effect on class admissions.
- Marketing needs to continue to educate middle schools, especially teachers and principals, about the success of HNHS programs.
- The school’s greatest challenge is enrollment of students who can pay all or most of the tuition.
- No one person has oversight of retention.
- Efforts to raise additional funds should be a priority of the Board in conjunction with the Advancement Office
- No information available concerning alumnae perception of school communications.
- Principle insufficiently observed by the school
Enrollment increase is an area of focus for all. The number of student visits increased dramatically during the Fall of 2016. Teachers were extremely accommodating to the visiting students and to our Ambassador students who needed to miss class to escort our visitors. The number of applicants for Fall 2017 has increased by 100% from Fall 2016 (77 compared to 36 the previous year).
Visibility in the community has increased by students participating in community activities. The students performed at the Bishop’s Christmas luncheon and have been invited to sing at a High Mass at the Cathedral in April. The Bishop chose an event in which many schools in the Diocese are participating to increase the visibility of HNHS in the Catholic community.
Students in the Visual Arts program designed and painted a mural that is scheduled to be installed in the Office of the City Auditor, at Oakland City Hall. The installation and dedication is scheduled for February 1, 2017.
Attendance at local festivals and on social media has increased and the Marketing Manager hired in January 2016 has plans to increase visibility by advertising in local papers as well as getting stories about students covered in the media.
The Board approved the hiring of a full-time Development Director in October 2015, which has resulted in increased fund raising to support student financial needs. The Development Office reports directly to the Board as to goals for increased funds to support the on-going operations of the school. The Development Department has not only revamped traditional fund-raising events such as Fund Her Future but has added new opportunities such as the “1931 Club” for donors who donate at least $1931.00 in honor of the date the current historic building opened. The Alumnae Association has new leadership that includes efforts to engage more graduates in the school. Annual events such as Homecoming have been expanded to provide more opportunities for Alumnae participation. A regular Alumnae Enews is sent to all alumnae. (See Attachment 9)
Attendance at school events has increased significantly. At student performance events there are usually more than 125 people in the audience. The Alumnae basketball game drew 70 plus fans on a very wet, rainy Saturday evening. Fundraising events are typically sold out.
The publications of the Monarch (Attachment 10) and the Christmas Monarch (Attachment 11) have resumed and will continue. We have received positive feedback on both publications. Communications not connected to an “ask” such as personalized Christmas cards have also received very positive comments.
- Principle attained commendably. The Visiting Committee felt the faculty and staff will be able to focus on the areas of improvement despite the challenges of the last two years.
- Leadership, faculty members and support staff have been focused on keeping the doors open instead of continually planning and implementing ongoing improvement for more effective school operations.
- Need to improve the relations between students and faculty/staff so that the students feel cared for.
- Need to improve the communications between the adults of the school.
- Improve communication so as to enhance collaboration.
- Goals for improvement are sufficiently conceived.
Relationships among all groups have improved dramatically in the last two years. The stability of staff, forecasted increase in enrollment and the commitment of all to a growth mind set is setting the foundation for Holy Names to build on its quality of education and commitment to serve young women in the Oakland area who have been traditionally underserved. The SNJM leadership are committed to the continued support of Holy Names as a valuable resource to its ministry, and as a reflection of their charism to serve young women in their education and development as a whole person.
The Three-Year Plan that starts with the 2016/17 School Year will serve as the foundation for the Self-Study for the next accreditation cycle. It will be updated yearly so that there is an evolving plan that includes at least the “next” two years.