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Bayview High School earns accreditation

"Diane Moondancer, director of Bayview High School, gives some individual attention to senior Angela Hudkins, who enjoys the independence the newly accredited school offers.Jim Larsen / staff photosAfter thoroughly studying itself for one year, Bayview High School has earned accreditation from the State Board of Education.The formal announcement was made at the April school board meeting. Although the accreditation is only a piece of paper, it means a lot to the four teachers and the students at Bayview High School, which is South Whidbey's alternative school.The staff and students are very proud of their effort and feel this recognition demonstrates the effectiveness of the program for students, said teacher Scott Mauk, who led the school's study committee.A four-member state accreditation team visited Bayview High School in March and even before leaving announced that accreditation would be recommended. That's unusual, according to Dr. Martin Laster, superintendent of South Whidbey schools, who described the on-the-spot decision as extraordinary.The survey team from the Washington Association for Learning Alternatives made the following findings at Bayview High School:* All learners are valued and unique individuals.* All learners have diverse opportunities.* All learners' developmental needs are met.* All learners are empowered and supported.* All learners have unlimited potential.Diane Moondancer, Bayview School director, said Monday that the accreditation gives the school more status in the community. We're not just a little alternative school, she said. We're accredited by the state as a viable community of learners.The state team positively evaluated the 6-year-old Bayview High School's improvement plan, adopted in February after months of work that entailed gathering input from staff, parents, the community and students.The self-study lists things Bayview High School does well, such as having a committed team of hard-working teachers; offering mutual respect, empathy, good leadership and role modeling; great program flexibility to meet the individual needs of students; and teachers who also act as counselors to keep students on track.The report also lauds Bayview's core class for freshmen, its expectations of essential learnings, its advocacy class to help students get along in school and in the community, and its requirement that each student produce an individual exit portfolio that demonstrates mastery in 45 components of 15 essential learnings defined by the school district.The self-study also takes a hard look at Bayview High School's needs that the staff is committed to addressing immediately.Those needs include improvements in the following areas: reading levels, student success, drug and alcohol intervention and counseling, parent involvement and communication, WASL test scores, image, health care and curriculum alignment.On Monday, the Bayview 10th graders were taking their WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) tests.Moondancer, the school's director, said WASL scores need to improve, even though Bayview is an alternative school. We've got an improvement plan, she said. We always want to do better in the WASLs. It's pretty valid.The WASL tests students in reading, listening, mathematics and writing. Last year, of 29 Bayview students tested nearly half failed to meet any of the four standards, but that was an improvement from the prior year.Teacher Jean Shaw spent last Saturday at a teacher training seminar as part of the school's commitment to improve reading and reading scores.The staff has been really responsive to our self-study, Moondancer said.Even the students appreciate the accreditation achievement. Angela Hudkins, a senior, said she was impressed by all the work the teachers put into the study. We even got interviewed, she said, referring to students. Hudkins has been at Bayview for three years and quickly cites three reasons why she likes it so well: independence, freedom and respect.Bayview is ahead of the regular high school in requiring student portfolios, including moving toward electronic portfolios.Stephanie Lincoln was finishing her portfolio Monday in the school's computer room even though no teacher was looking over her shoulder.I'm definitely comfortable here, Lincoln said. People trust that I'm managing my time wisely, I don't feel like I'm being babysat. I can spend my time doing work, not sitting in class. She plans to attend Shoreline Community College next year, something she didn't think was possible a year ago.Speaking perhaps for most Bayview students, Lincoln said, It's really working out for me. I need to have personal relationships with the people I'm with, and they never turn me away. "

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