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November 9, 2013

School reaccreditation can be lengthy process for schools

Accreditation for schools is a long, costly process

Educators call it the ultimate test, but it’s not an exam taken by students.

It’s a high school’s quest for reaccreditation — a test of the efforts and determination of an entire school community, including administrators, staff and students.

Every 10 years, high schools in New Hampshire are evaluated by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

For the next several months, Salem High School will be preparing for its own four-day evaluation in March by a 17-member team of NEASC representatives, principal Tracy Collyer said.

That team will evaluate the school in dozens of areas, commending the district for some things and recommending improvement in others. They will interview administrators, staff and students before they pack up and leave.

“They come in that Sunday and will spend the next four days with us,” Collyer said. “We know we are doing great things in Salem, but we know there is room for improvement.”

Salem High has already launched an 18-month self-study as part of the reaccreditation process, seeking to determine how the school measures up, Collyer said.

“To have NEASC accreditation is important for schools because it says you have met current standards,” Collyer said. “A lot of this process is us getting evidence. This is a good process for us to really take a look at what we are doing.”

Londonderry High School was reaccredited two years ago, following an extensive review that gave the district passing grades in most areas, Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said. The district was told it needs a school auditorium, he said.

“It’s very important,” he said of the process. “Getting approval is a sign we have quality programs and services for all of our kids.”

While most public high schools in New England — 640 — are accredited, there is a small percentage that are not, according to Janet Allison, NEASC’s director of the Commission on Public Schools.

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