By Anna Flurry
On September 17th and 18th, three strangers arrived on Tri-City College Prep’s campus. The visitors were a college prep accreditation team, sent to evaluate TCP’s college prep status.
Every five years, a routine evaluation is done at the school. A few people come to Tri-City to conduct interviews, observe classes, and speak with the administration. At the end of this period, they submit a report and a recommendation to a national committee to decide TCP’s title.
“I think we all were a little bit tense,” Keri Milliken, principal, said of teacher emotions during the visit, “because we know how important this is for the school. But at the same time, we all kept reminding ourselves that all we need to do is to show them who we are, because we’re doing it right and we know it.”
The school can receive a title of college prep with full accreditation, full accreditation with advisement, partial accreditation, partial accreditation with probation, or no accreditation at all.
“The accreditation team cannot give the accreditation,” Milliken said. “Their recommendation goes to a national committee, so we won’t find out until December. They did recommend full accreditation… The leader said she’s never had one of her recommendations turned down.”
The last time that the school was accredited, it was given two goals to work on during the next five years. One was to increase technology at the school, and the other was to track it graduates after high school.
“I’ve been preparing for this for the last five years,” said Milliken. She has talked with school leadership to better know how to help TCP continue to grow and also created a booklet that demonstrates where Tri-City graduates have gone.
“We got Moodle… We put projectors in all the rooms. We got smart board technology… [We got] the mobile classrooms,” Milliken said of the increased technology at the school. “It’s a whole laundry list of things.”
The goal that the accreditation team gave TCP this year was to create an initiation process for new teachers to help them get acquainted to the school. Milliken said that she thinks this is necessary and is looking forward to implementing the new goal.
Teachers were prepped for the visitors beforehand, but were mostly advised to do what they would normally do during a school day.
“I talked to the teachers about making sure that their classrooms are accessible…” Milliken said. “I [let] them know that these people would be in their classes periodically.” She also went over sample interview questions with the teachers and reminded them to highlight the goals that the school has achieved. “That’s pretty much it,” said Milliken.
Students and parents who were interviewed were given the sample interview questions as well.
“I think being accredited is really important for the school itself and its reputation, but also for the students, because the accreditation is not mandatory,” Milliken said. “It’s optional. For us to be pursuing that option is a benefit to the students, because that accreditation carries some weight.”