I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our school families and the parish community for your generous support and participation in the recent accreditation process of Sts. Simon & Jude School. Achieving accreditation is a rigorous 3-step process that encompasses two years of self-assessment, an on-site assessment performed by an experienced team of educators, and a final review and decision by the WCEA/WASC Commissioners. Schools in the Diocese of Orange are expected to adhere to certain standards regarding: Catholic Identity, compliance with diocesan and federal statutes, effective administration and governance, the teaching of a rigorous curriculum, qualified faculty/staff, effective student support services, and efficient fiduciary responsibility.
The Visiting Committee spent three full days on the campus of SSJ, which allowed them to witness our school “in action.” During that time they were able to: observe instruction in all classrooms, review student work at every grade level, dialogue with students, parents, faculty and the pastor, review/evaluate pertinent data (i.e. standardized test scores, curriculum guidelines, teacher lesson plans, budget reports, surveys, principal newsletters, etc.), and present us with their Report of Findings. The primary questions to be answered by the Visiting Committee included:
• To what extent is Catholic Identity infused into the total school program?
• To what extent are the students achieving the Schoolwide Learning Expectations?
• To what extent are students mastering the essential academic content standards?
• To what extent is there evidence of adequate ongoing academic growth for all students?
• To what extent does the school support high achievement for all its students?
• To what extent is assessment data being collected, disaggregated and analyzed?
• To what extent are student learning decisions being made based on the analysis of the assessment data?
Based on the results of the Self-Study and the time spent on campus, the Visiting Committee was responsible for assigning a rating of highly effective, effective, somewhat effective, or ineffective to Sts. Simon & Jude School in 12 different categories. The Committee was also tasked with writing a recommendation for our Accreditation Status based upon factors that are relative to our school’s successes and growth needs. I am happy to report that SSJ received a rating of HIGHLY EFFECTIVE in every category! The following closing statement was taken directly from the Visiting Committee’s report:
The Franciscan charism and Catholic Identity are woven into all aspects of the school culture. The administration and teachers are deeply dedicated to ensuring that each student reaches his or her potential. They differentiate instruction and go the extra mile to make sure all students are appropriately supported and challenged. Students describe their school as a “loving community, like a big family.” They say that the teachers are “helpful, caring, encouraging, and understanding, and want each student to grow and excel.” The Visiting Committee found the students and parents to be enthusiastic, joyful, committed, caring, welcoming, and very appreciative of the dedication of the principal and staff. At the parent meeting, several parents stated that students graduating from Sts. Simon & Jude School are extremely well-prepared for high school, frequently performing significantly above their classmates. The Visiting Committee members were witnesses to Sts. Simon & Jude School’s reality and dedication of ensuring “that all students are inspired and have a sense of belonging” and that the teachers and staff “promote excellence in each student, spiritually, intellectually, physically, creatively, and emotionally.” The Visiting Committee wishes to commend Sts. Simon & Jude School on the outstanding completion of their Self-Study and the excellent preparation for the visitation.
As we pause now briefly to take a breath and reflect on Lent, we know it won’t be long before we begin focusing on strategies that will assist us in implementing the goals that are outlined in our Action Plan. It is our sincere hope that the next six years will be just as successful as the previous years have been, and that our students will continue to thrive in a Catholic school environment that assures the primacy of faith formation and educational excellence. Siempre adelante…always forward!