Accreditors tour Howland school

Posted April 07, 2009, at 11:19 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:23 p.m.

HOWLAND, Maine — SAD 31 officials will know by fall whether the New England Association of Schools and Colleges will reaccredit Penobscot Valley High School for 10 more years.

About 15 association teachers and administrators toured the school, reviewed curricula and interviewed staff as part of the review process. The reviewers made informal but usually positive remarks about what they saw, SAD 31 board Chairman John Neel said.

“From what I heard and understood, they were impressed with our school and facilities and it was very favorable,” Neel said Monday of the visit, which began last Sunday and ended Thursday.

“In sort of general comments they seem impressed with the building, the kids,” SAD 31 Superintendent Jerry White said.

Typically a two-year review process, accreditation from the association is vital to colleges and universities accepting PVHS graduates and for accredited schools to qualify for state and federal aid. Accreditation shows that the school meets standards and is willing to maintain those standards.

Also included in the process is an assessment of the quality of the school’s instructional practices and their congruence with Maine Learning Results and the national No Child Left Behind Act, among other things.

A comprehensive self-study involving every high school faculty member and surveys of parents and others from the community are also components of accreditation.

The $3.9 million renovation of PVHS and interconnected Hichborn Middle School that was finished last year will help the school gain reaccreditation, Neel and White said. The school has new lights, electrical wiring, heating and plumbing systems, hallway tiles and fire protection systems.

The renovated buildings also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and feature a new computer system throughout.

Voters from the SAD 31 member communities Burlington, Edinburg, Enfield, Howland, Maxfield and Passadumkeag approved paying about $1.4 million to renovate the schools. The state contributed about $2.5 million to the project.

Founded in 1885, NEASC is the nation’s oldest regional accrediting association. It helps establish and maintain high standards for all levels of education, from pre-K to the doctoral level, according to its Web site, neasc.org.

NEASC serves more than 2,000 public and independent schools, colleges and universities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and American and international schools in more than 65 nations worldwide.

Initially accredited in 1955, PVHS has maintained its accreditation since. Central High School of Corinth, Nokomis Regional High School, Penquis Valley High School and Stearns High School of Millinocket are among the state schools that have been reaccredited over the last three years. A list of Maine high schools accredited and on probation is available at cpss.neasc.org/cpss_directory_of_schools/#Maine.

The board will review the 15-member committee’s report before NEASC votes on whether to reaccredit the school, White said.

Most accreditation reports come with lists of a school’s areas of excellence, areas that bear watching, and areas that need improvement.

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