San Marin High School : Summary of The WASC Accreditation Process

San Marin High School, like most public high schools in California, participates in an accreditation process developed by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The six-year accreditation cycle involves two parts: the school conducting an extensive 18-month reflective self-study into 5 specific areas (school governance, curriculum, instruction, assessment/accountability, and school culture), and periodic visits from a WASC Visiting Committee.  San Marin High School created a 216 page Self Study document during the 2013-14 school year that reflected the status of the school at that time. The WASC organization sent a four-member team to visit San Marin in Spring 2014. The WASC Visiting Committee, as is common for all schools, generates a list of Schoolwide Strengths and Critical Areas for Follow up.

The Visiting Committee acknowledged 9 successes:

  • San Marin’s Advisory Program
  • Academic programs such as AVID, smARTt, SMHS-Plus and STEM Marin
  • Support from the NUSD Board of Trustees and district administration
  • Student and parent access to grades and other information in the school’s student management system
  • The wide variety of AP and Honors courses
  • The sMARTt program productions
  • The Internships available through the College and Career Center
  • The new and well-maintained facilities
  • The many professional development opportunities available to the staff.

The Spring 2014 Visiting Committee Report also identified 8 Schoolwide Critical Areas for Follow-up:

  • Increase collaboration in designing, assessing, and reflecting on standards-based student learning among staff members
  • Increase the amount and use of technology
  • Further develop the school’s vision
  • Allow time to plan, implement, and evaluate programs
  • Decrease the achievement gap between various student groups
  • Ensure students are learning the standards
  • Increase the variety of instructional and assessment strategies
  • Put a comprehensive assessment system in place.

WASC Accreditation Timeline for San Marin High School

March 2001:   Full Self-Study Visit

March 2004:   First On-Site Review

March 2005:   Second On-SIte Review

Spring 2007:  San Marin High School was scheduled for a Full Self-Study Visit, which was

deferred for one year due to changes in site administration.

March 2008:   Full Self-Study Visit

March 2011:   Midterm Review

March 2014:   Full Self-Study Visit (San Marin placed on Probationary Status)

March 2016:   Probationary Visit (San Marin taken off Probationary Status)

As a result of the 2014 Self Study and WASC Visiting Committee visit, the WASC Commissioners granted San Marin High School accreditation through Spring 2016 but placed San Marin on probationary status. Probationary status required a probationary report and revisit in Spring 2016 to monitor the progress since the 2014 Spring visit.  (WASC reports are always made public, and always reported by NUSD at our Board of Trustee meetings, both for San Marin High School and for Novato High School.)


The San Marin community immediately began to address the 8 recommendations identified by the Visiting Committee in Spring 2014. A Probationary Report was created during the 2015-16 school year and sent to the Visiting Committee for review.  Three members of the 2014 Visiting Committee returned to San Marin to assess the progress on the recommendations suggested in the 2014 Visiting Committee Report. In Spring 2016, the Visiting Committee communicated they were pleased with the progress of the San Marin community since their visit two years earlier.

Committee Recommendations

The Spring 2016 Visiting Committee reported positive progress made on the 8 Critical Areas for Follow up, commended the school on 5 specific improvements, and included recommendations to:
  1. Continue to work with communication strategies in spreading news to parents and students. Proactively reaching out to parents will develop a strong community relationship.
  2. Continue working with staff members concerning implementation of common core/NGSS in the classroom.
  3. Continue departmental work in building common assessments and content strategies, and using collected data to refine the curriculum.
  4. Continue implementation of SIOP strategies in content specific courses. Continue to develop a rigorous ELD program that addresses the Common Core ELA standards and scaffolds for ELD 1, ELD II, ELD III.

In Spring 2016, following review of the Probationary Report and Visiting Committee visit, the WASC Commissioners granted San Marin High School full accreditation status through 2020.

“San Marin High School has undergone some strong changes in the direction we were encouraging two years ago.  Student engagement is noticeable in the classrooms at a higher level than before, teachers are more attentive to struggling students and English Language Learners, and the school has less of a “two-tiered” feeling about it (one school for AP students, and another for all the rest.)  While there is a long way to go before they are satisfied with their test results, and grades for all students, we are pleased with the progress they have made, and their serious work in addressing our areas of concern from two years ago.”  (Page 5 of the March 7-8, 2016, Report.)

The WASC accreditation process also includes a mid-cycle (Year 3 of 6) review of the school. Since 2016-17 marks Year 3 of the 6-year cycle, a Mid-Cycle Report will be created this school year building on the successes and recommendations from the Probationary Report prepared in 2015-16.  Please contact San Marin High School Principal Adam Littlefield at (415) 898-2121 for more information about San Marin High School and the WASC process.

More About WASC Accreditation

ACS WASC accreditation is a process schools use to monitor student learning and set school improvement goals.   ACS WASC accreditation is an ongoing cycle of quality. Schools assess their program and the impact on student learning with respect to the ACS WASC criteria and other accreditation factors.

Every six years, accredited schools conduct a self-study and host a self-study visit. The self-study process culminates in the refinement of a schoolwide action plan. Throughout the accreditation cycle, schools are expected to address the schoolwide action plan and demonstrate evidence of acceptable student achievement and school improvement. Appropriate reports and reviews throughout the six-year cycle of accreditation support this process.

*from the WASC website

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