Middle States Association visits Schreiber

Adi Levin, Assistant News Editor

Every seven years, the Commission on Secondary Schools visits local high schools to evaluate their efficiency and see if they qualify for accreditation. A branch of the Middle States Association, the Commission sent representatives to identify Schreiber’s strengths and see where it can improve in the future.

“We had a very positive experience with the Middle States Committee this year.  I think we had a team that was able to understand Schreiber’s culture.  We’ve been planning this for two years, setting up objectives.  With my co-coordinator, Ms. Cotter, we were able to conduct a self-study and figure out where we can get better,” said Assistant Principal Ms. Julie Torres.

From Oct. 20-23, a panel of educators collaborated with Schreiber students and teachers. On the first day, Middle States representatives met with a Planning Team made up of representatives from each department at Schreiber.  At a separate time, representatives met with school administrators to discuss Schreiber’s development.

All of Schreiber’s qualifications are taken into consideration by the Middle States Association.  According to the organization’s website, accreditation is defined as “the affirmation that a school provides a quality of education that the community has a right to expect.”  Administrators will most likely find out if Schreiber has been recommended for accreditation in the spring.

In order to determine if a school qualifies for accreditation, the Middle States Association brings educators from other districts together with Schreiber teachers and students.

“It was really organized.  We split up into groups to discuss the school’s progress, with about six or seven students to every Middle States officer.  We discussed everything we like about school and each of us brought up two things we would like to change,” said sophomore Sarah Finkelstein.

The Middle States team started by outlining what it means to prepare students for college.  According to its standards, a college-ready graduate can apply mathematical and scientific concepts to the real world and use technology to solve problems.  On a more personal level, students should react to injustice, value democracy, and be able to work collaboratively with other people.

After a week of analyzing where Schreiber stands, the Middle States panel set time-sensitive goals for each department.  For instance, the LOTE department hopes to make language learning more immersive by creating new programs.  Another goal is to create a master vocabulary list for each grade to make learning more organized.  They hope to achieve this by Jan. 2017.  The next time Middle States comes to inspect Schreiber in 2022, it hopes to see an increase in Regents scores to measure growth.

“I’m glad they are making so many positive changes to the language department.  I really hope they bring back Mandarin as a language because I was looking forward to taking it this year,” said sophomore Mari Mirasol.

Outside of any department, the Middle States group set some broader goals for the Schreiber student body.  In the future, Schreiber hopes to take advantage of Aspen’s full potential.  By June, Aspen may be used to keep track of student involvement in clubs by uploading individual club signup sheets.

“The idea is to find out which kids participate in clubs.  Not only is it good for security purposes, but it also helps identify which students are active volunteers,” said LOTE teacher Ms. Anna Valentino.

A primary goal of the Middle States Committee is to increase digital literacy over the next few years.  As technology progresses, there is an increasing need for technological know-how.  The committee suggested that Schreiber implement digital literacy programs for both teachers and students and to provide more online resources for students to use.

In order to get more with the times, teachers may be required to use programs like Google Drive in the classroom.  Additionally, Schreiber librarians may provide courses and assemblies in the future to instruct students about using the Internet properly.  To further these goals, the Middle States team also approved the creation of a Coding Club at Schreiber.

One area that the Middle States committee believes could be improved upon is class sizes.

“This year, the large class sizes are a real problem. Hopefully that can be solved in the next few years.  Also, they mentioned something about implementing iPads for learning.  Personally, I wouldn’t want that because I like taking notes by hand. It helps me learn,” said Finkelstein.

Overall, the Middle States visit went smoothly except for an unexpected fire alarm, a minor setback.  However, the problem was resolved within minutes and the meetings continued to run as planned.

“The main idea of this visit is that it provides us with all these objectives to keep in mind.  The packet that they gave us is a living document, so it isn’t meant to just sit on a shelf collecting dust.  It’s a plan to put in action over the next few years,” said Valentino.