WASC awards BC 6-year accreditation

Kristin Lam, Editor-in-Chief

The results of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) visitation in March are in: Bear Creek received the second highest level of WASC accreditation status.

“It is the decision of the Commission to grant the Six-Year Accreditation Status with a Mid-cycle One-day Visit through June 30, 2021,” Commission Chairperson Valene Staley said in the official WASC results statement sent to Bear Creek.

Although the school was given a three year term revisit in 2011 and a one year term extension in 2013, the previous four years were only a bump in Bear Creek’s otherwise excellent accreditation history since its founding in 1991. WASC also assigned Bear Creek a six year accreditation status in 1999 and 2005.

Principal Bill Atterberry said that the six year accreditation means that the school has received validation for what it is doing.

“It also means we’re heading in the right direction,” Atterberry said. “It doesn’t mean we’re perfect, there are areas for growth that we have to focus on, but it means we’re taking the responsibility. We’re asking the hard questions and we’ve come up with and are working on a plan.”

WASC Leadership Team Site Coordinator and English teacher Laura La Rue has taken on the role of Action Plan Coordinator to create that plan that addresses those areas for growth.

“The three critical areas for follow-up were all from the action plan that we presented to them within our last report which is a really good thing because it shows them that what we’ve identified on campus is what they too have identified on campus,” La Rue said. “So we’re seeing things as they are and trying to make improvements in the correct areas.”

The critical areas for follow-up include: (1) implementing research-based strategies across campus and within departments to actively engage all students in learning, (2) extending and/or investigating programs and schedule options that increase ways of personalizing the student experience, increasing flexibility, accommodating electives, and providing greater options that focus on the success of all students, and (3) developing a systematic intervention plan for supporting struggling students.

Atterberry agrees that having a focus for improvement is vital.

“If you’re in a state of inertia and not acknowledging that there are issues that you have to deal with that’s a problem,” Atterberry said. “We do, we accept it, and teachers are figuring out ways to move ahead.  That’s hard; change is hard.  But we’ve accepted the fact that we need to change and now we’ve got to do the hard work.”