Who were those adults observing classes and interacting with students the other week?

Every five years, BHS is reaccredited in order to prove the school is a learning environment and continuously improves itself.

Ivy Muench, Editor-in-Chief

Improvement Administrator Colleen Buchanan worked with Principal Gavin Johnson as Brighton High School underwent accreditation Feb. 18 through Feb. 20.  

BHS’s accreditation is conducted through the nonprofit accreditation organization Cognia. This process grades the school on its learning environment and if the school continuously improves. BHS is accredited every five years, and it is not required by the state or operated by the state. However, good ratings make students’ high school diplomas more favorable to colleges.

Educators who volunteered from around the state to be the accreditors arrived on Tuesday night. Buchanan, BHS administrators involved, and the educators worked until 9 p.m. conducting presentations, filling out paperwork and some preliminary tasks.

All day Wednesday, the educators evaluated the learning environments of classes, talked with students, parents, teachers, and principals. Students and teachers were spoken to during the day and parents came in after school to participate in this process. People who were involved in accrediting ended their workday around 9 p.m. 

On Thursday, the educators did last checks and evaluations, leaving the school around 4 p.m. 

“[Educational improvement including accreditation] really works toward [discovering] how do we continuously improve our school. It could be grades. It could be SAT scores. It could be social [and] emotional. It doesn’t have to be just [about academics],” said Buchanan. 

Both Johnson and Buchanan stressed that the educators were not visiting to evaluate teaching but instead the school’s overall learning. Students and teachers had no need to be worried. 

The accreditors asked teachers, parents and students questions with topics ranging from academics, extracurricular activities and the school’s atmosphere. 

Teachers were asked how they use data, some things they do in their classroom, what improvement process did they think the school does well and which do they think needs work. The questions are focused on achievement and what’s happening in the classroom.

Parents were asked questions about the communication between teachers and parents, administrators and parents, what they like about the school, would they promote the school and if there are any issues.

Students asked about their experience such as clubs, sports, what is going on in classes, if they feel like they are learning, if they have opportunities like a wide range of classes, if they get what they need academically, emotionally and information like that.

Buchanan emphasized how comments are anonymous and honesty is best.

“We want people to come look at us to tell us how to do a better job. That’s what this whole thing is all about, how can we improve for students?” said Johnson.

This is the second year Buchanan was in charge of BHS’s accreditation. One of the biggest changes was this year this process was more digital. She, along with Johnson, Principal Jeffery Bean, Teacher Kris Sinacola and others have been accreditors for other schools in previous years.

“It’s rigorous but it was worth it,” said Buchanan. 

The volunteers who become accreditors for other schools through Cognia take a series of tests and take time to learn how to do their job correctly. In addition, they give up their time from their normal school days to be a part of this program. 

Buchanan said, “All I [got] paid [was] my mileage. I don’t get paid as a reviewer. I just do it because I want to. I want to see what is out there.” 

Through the nonprofit organization Cognia, the educators evaluating and Brighton High School have a chance to exchange ideas and improve school life for their students.