Cam High Makes Favorable Strides Amidst WASC Process


Mark Storer

Following 2019’s subpar WASC report detailing Cam High as straying from meeting standards, the students, staff, and administration have worked to improve Cam High in various categories.

After receiving favorable feedback following its WASC reevaluation, conducted on March 22 and 23 of this year, Cam High is in no apparent danger of losing accreditation.

In 2019, due to poor performance on its WASC evaluation, Cam High was placed on probation and scheduled for a reevaluation in late March of 2021. Since then, teachers, students, and staff joined forces to ensure that Cam High would improve significantly in its areas of weakness prior to this year’s evaluation.

WASC, which stands for Western Association of Schools and Colleges, is the entity that ensures that campus programs at high schools meet the standards required by colleges and universities in the United States. Receiving a WASC accreditation verifies students’ transcripts and certifies their admissibility into 4-year colleges and universities.

The WASC accreditation process involves a Self-Study report issued by the school, a report from the WASC Visiting Committee (VC), and a few other progress reports.

Ms. Heidi Resnik, Teacher Librarian at Cam High, said the school “received a favorable report” from the WASC visiting committee this past March.

Resnik and Cam High counselor, Mr. Tom Taketa, were the Self-Study Coordinators who oversaw the in-depth report that evaluated why Cam High was put on probation on the first place.

Resnik lauded the diligence and leadership of Cam High’s Data Team for being “the cornerstone of the self-study process.” Led by science teachers and department chairs, Ms. Shannon Klemann and Mr. John Gonzalez, alongside Special Education Department Chair, Ms. Allison Steltz, the data team assisted the school in its attempts to present, reflect, and improve upon critical data.

Aside from the self-study, the transition to distance learning was a factor that aided the school in the WASC process. “One aspect of WASC’s concern for our campus was the teachers’ lack of using current best practices and up-to-date instructional strategies and tools for learning,” said Resnik. “However, because of the school closure, teachers were forced to establish online classrooms and integrate technology into their daily practice.”

Another reason behind this year’s WASC success, according to Resnik, is the “outstanding leadership” of Cam High’s principal, Mr. Matt La Belle. “He provided the necessary support the WASC leaders needed to have in order to accomplish our goals,” Resnik said.

Mr. Daniel Cook, the Music Director at Cam High and a member of the school’s Instructional Leadership Team, said it was Cam High’s willingness to revamp data protocols and realign its goals that finally put the school body on the same page and subsequently allowed for the school to operate efficiently and effectively.

“What’s kind of funny about the WASC process is what they were more concerned about wasn’t what we did for students or that our students weren’t excelling and going on to do great things,” Cook said. “It was more about us documenting what we are doing for our students and us showing that we do talk about these things and we do share them.”

Cook noted that Cam High could have appealed WASC’s probation decision, but instead, the school chose to heed the criticism and improve from there.

“WASC came in and witnessed an ugly part of our growing pains,” Cook said, but he believes that Cam High made fruitful attempts at ameliorating areas of weakness. “We as a school heard loud and clear what they were asking for and we met the moment.”

David Kamassah, a senior at Cam High, is impressed by the progress made by the school in these past couple of years. “It takes a lot of desire and drive to take constructive criticism and improve from it, so I think we should all give the school its props.”

Additionally, Kamassah was a member of a WASC focus group in which he participated in discourse between a group of diverse students and a few WASC advisors. “Here, the advisors asked us varying questions about the school atmosphere, life inside the classroom, the faculty and staff, and our personal experiences at [Cam High],” Kamassah said, adding that as a group, they “analyzed areas where [Cam High] has improved and areas where it hasn’t.”

Despite appreciating the progress brought by the school in recent years, Kamassah believes there is still work to be done, a sentiment shared by both Cook and Resnik. 

Although Cam High has shown several areas of strength and growth, including positive advancements in campus culture and improvement of college and career readiness programs, the WASC VC Report indicates that Cam High still needs to work on a few areas such as teacher and administration collaboration and providing students with more real world opportunities.

According to Resnik, from now through January of 2022, the primary objective is to “take measurable steps” in improving upon the five critical areas of follow-up delineated in the WASC VC Report in preparation for the WASC VC’s next visit which will take place in March of 2022.

In response to the confusion lingering about Cam High’s probation status, Resnik said the school “will receive an official report from WASC in May” in regards to probation status. Until then, interested students and parents can peruse through Cam High’s Website for more information about the WASC process.

Update: On May 6, La Belle released an official statement declaring that the WASC commission has decided to “remove probation and restore accreditation status” for Cam High.  The school’s “accreditation status continues through June 30, 2025.”