Report highlights Fairfield Warde’s potential improvement

Fairfield Warde High School

Fairfield Warde High School

Contributed Photo / Contributed Photo

FAIRFIELD — Fairfield Warde recently completed another step in the accreditation process, highlighting successes and potential areas for improvement.

The high school, initially accredited in 1983, has been up for re-accreditation since last year. Every 10 years the accreditation process begins again, however, Warde is among the first schools in the region to use New England Association of Schools and Colleges’s new process.

Paul Cavanna, Warde’s principal, said that before the change, school officials would sit through big presentations that focused on the overall school growth, which he referred to as a “dog and pony show.” The new approach instead focuses on the development areas the school brought to the collaborative conference in October 2018, the second step in the new process.

Part of the process is a decennial visit, where school and NEASC officials review the decennial report, which describes the school community’s progress in their self-identified priority areas of growth, Cavanna explained in a presentation at this week’s school board meeting.

Superintendent Mike Cummings said the successful NEASC visit in March showed that Warde and the school district as a whole is on the right track.

“We’ve reviewed the report, we’ve talked about it and I think the report speaks to the many, many strengths of Fairfield Warde and its staff and student body and its community as well as the work that we know that needs to be done not only at Fairfield Warde, but in the district as a whole,” Cummings said at the school board meeting.

The five areas of growth that Warde identified are: improving interdisciplinary teaching and learning, broadening teaching and learning using technology, providing interventions and instruction to support all students, implementing civic expectations, as well as personalizing learning and assessment for each student.

“Having gone through both processes, I really found this one to be a growth mindset with the opportunity to give honest feedback,” Cavanna said.

The high school was given a slew of recommendations in the NEASC report, which Cavanna said are the framework for their future work.

Recommendations included creating interdisciplinary lessons within the curriculum, aligning district-level initiatives to build upon each other, implementing professional development, providing additional opportunities for educators to create instructional activities as well as providing ongoing professional learning support.

Cavanna said one thing that he learned from NEASC is that the school can be stuck in its own world sometimes. The recommendations, he said, gave school officials a “different viewpoint and a different lens,” especially the suggestion to have all of the initiatives be cohesive.

“I don’t know if we would have known that from the inside because we live in it every single day,” Cavanna said.

The NEASC report actually issued more commendations than recommendations.

The team praised the school counseling and student services department’s robust programming to support students’ academic and social-emotional needs. The group also spoke to the positive school climate, a sentiment Cavanna attributes to the staff’s hard work.

“I want to say how proud I am as the principal of Fairfield Warde High School,” Cavanna said. “I really believe that this report highlights the hard work and dedication our staff has put into continued professional growth. Our school improvement plan is aligned to a lot of the recommendations that were mentioned in this report.”

Fairfield Warde will continue to align the schools standard with the NEASC. Once re-accredited the school will also have to send progress reports after two years and again after five years.