Quality Assurance Review Team Report

Quality Assurance Review Team Report

Report of the Quality Assurance Review Team for Saint Thomas Aquinas High School

2801 SW 12th St
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States 33312-2953

Mrs. Tina Jones, Principal
Review Dates: 01/23/2012 – 01/24/2012

Quality Assurance Review Report

Summary of Findings

A Quality Assurance Review Team representing the SACS CASI Florida State Office(SACS-CASI-FL), a division of AdvancED, visited the Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States on 01/23/2012 – 01/24/2012. During the visit, members of the Quality Assurance Review Team interviewed 12 members of the administrative team, 43 students, 29 parents, and 46 teachers. In addition, community leaders, alumni, alumni teachers, clerical staff and Security Services Officer were interviewed. The team also reviewed documents, student performance data, and other artifacts provided by the school. Specifically, the team examined the school’s systems and processes in relation to the seven Advanced standards:

1. Vision and Purpose
2. Governance and Leadership
3. Teaching and Learning
4. Documenting and Using Results
5. Resource and Support Systems
6. Stakeholder Communications and Relationships
7. Commitment to Continuous Improvement

Through its examination of the school’s adherence to the standards, the Quality Assurance Review Team identified the following commendations and required actions.
Commendations

The Quality Assurance Review Team commends the school for the following strengths and accomplishments. While additional strengths are noted in the detailed review of each standard that appears later in this report, the commendations listed below are the strengths that the team believes are most deserving of being highlighted.

Commendation 1
Commendation Statement:
St. Thomas Aquinas High School (STA) provides a rich and varied curriculum totaling more than 167 courses on three levels and including Advanced Placement courses in all major academic areas.

Commendation 2
Commendation Statement:
STA provides a safe, secure, and well-maintained-facility of which all stakeholders are justifiably proud.

Commendation 3
Commendation Statement:
STA educates the whole person by providing a large wide-ranging well-rounded program which includes academics, interest activities, sports, spiritual and cultural events, and community service.

Commendation 4
Commendation Statement:
STA has a well-qualified, caring, and involved administration, faculty, staff, and active parent volunteers.

Required Actions
In addition to the commendations, the Quality Assurance Review Team identified the following required actions for improvement. The team focused its required actions on those areas that, if addressed, will have the greatest impact on improving student performance and overall school effectiveness. The school will be held accountable for addressing each of the required actions noted in this section. Following this review, the school will be asked to submit a progress report on these required actions.

Required Action 1
Required Action:
Implement policies that enhance participation of a broader mix of the school’s profile demographics in stakeholder groups to engender additional buy-in and general support as these group representatives participate in the work of stakeholder groups.

Required Action 2
Required Action:
Revise the school Action Plan to generate a Five Year Continuous Improvement Plan involving all school stakeholder groups. In readdressing this matter conduct an annual assembly event that reviews, evaluates, revises, and celebrates and highly publicizes successes each year of the plan to assure that it achieves the continuous improvement actions set forth in the plan.

Required Action 3
Required Action:
Document and announce avenues for input in the development of school policy and operating processes that provide for involvement of all appropriate stakeholders’ group representatives and/or the entire school community before these matters are announced officially.

Review of AdvancED Standards for Quality Schools
The primary requirement for accreditation is that the Saint Thomas Aquinas High School demonstrates that it meets the seven standards for accreditation. The findings of the Quality Assurance Review Team regarding the standards for accreditation are summarized on the following pages.

Standard 1: Vision and Purpose
Standard:
The school establishes and communicates a shared purpose and direction for improving the performance of students and the effectiveness of the school.
Description – The team noted how the school met the intent of the standard based on the preponderance of evidence.

Strengths – The team noted the following successful practices deserving of
recognition:
STA has a spirit of camaraderie among the faculty.
STA has a great sense of pride among its students, faculty, staff, and administration for the school, its history, and its accomplishments.
STA has a well developed but continually evolving Campus Ministry program which is attracting a greater number of participants and fostering a strong tradition of service to others.
STA exhibits a climate of academic rigor.

Opportunities – The team offers the following opportunities for improvement for consideration by the school.
Seek the involvement of a broader composition of stakeholder groups in systematic scheduled discussions and expected commitment to the school vision Promulgate the school’s vision and mission to all stakeholders referencing it in all publications, media, and routine activities of the school. In the case of the students, it could appear on all syllabi, teacher websites, and assessments Consider anew the ever present need to encourage upto the top versus the top down challenge in matters of policy development and processes actions.

Finding: Saint Thomas Aquinas High School has earned the overall assessment level of “Highly Functional” and has met this standard for accreditation.

Standard 2: Governance and Leadership
Standard: The school provides governance and leadership that promote student performance and school effectiveness.
Description – The team noted how the school met the intent of the standard based on the preponderance of evidence.

Strengths – The team noted the following successful practices deserving of recognition.
The administration is dedicated to providing a quality education to students from all demographics.
The administration has high expectations for both the faculty and the students, leads by example, and its commitment to self reliance is reflected in the attitudes of the students.
New teachers are offered an array of support and professional development opportunities which not only allow them to grow professionally but also support their integration into the school community.
School handbooks are thorough and clear, and detail a consistent message that high standards are to be exemplified by everyone within the school community.

Opportunities – The team offers the following opportunities for improvement for consideration by the school.
Create an advisory committee consisting of minority sub-group parents and local and area community stakeholders which is recognized as a source of support for policy, and operational processes, and school plant and campus development actions ensuring the flow of communication from these parents and stakeholders to the administration is received.
Revise the annual survey to include feedback of the organizational effectiveness of the administration, departments, councils and committees etc., as well as including open ended questions with free response sections.
Evaluate and consider, as administrator staffing evaluation is done this year, adding a second administrator to the student discipline area to have one person for girls and one for boys. The school size and comments the team received regarding one person serving this area indicated this as being in adequate.

Finding: Saint Thomas Aquinas High School has earned the overall assessment level of “Highly Functional” and has met this standard for accreditation.

Standard 3: Teaching and Learning
Standard: The school provides research-based curriculum and instructional methods that facilitate achievement for all students.
Description – The team noted how the school met the intent of the standard based on the preponderance of evidence.

Strengths – The team noted the following successful practices deserving of recognition:
The high test scores and nationally recognized achievements of students are atestament to the strong curriculum and the dedication of the instructional staff. The administration allows teachers autonomy in the classrooms, thus showing appreciation for their professionalism and abilities as educators.
The students are happy and engaged in learning and demonstrate a strong sense of self pride and self reliance.
The teachers feel as if they are an integral part of the school community and are proud of the successes of their students.

Opportunities – The team offers the following opportunities for improvement for consideration by the school:
Expand the current technology plan to include a technology committee, made up of representatives from each department, which focuses on classroom technology, and offer frequent professional development programs to ensure teachers are fully trained and aware of continual updates to the technology.
Explore the opportunities for technological advancement through annual attendance at the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) as well as other similar conferences within the individual discipline areas.

Finding: Saint Thomas Aquinas High School has earned the overall assessment level of “Highly Functional” and has met this standard for accreditation.

Standard 4: Documenting and Using Results
Standard: The school enacts a comprehensive assessment system that monitors and documents performance and uses these results to improve student performance and school effectiveness.

Strengths – The team noted the following successful practices deserving of recognition:
STA provides a Testing Coordinator tasked to organize, implement, and evaluate the school-wide assessment program.
Multiple, valid, and reliable assessment instruments are used at STA.
Assessment data and trend information are made available to stakeholders in a very timely manner and in multiple venues.

Opportunities – The team offers the following opportunities for improvement for consideration by the school.
Investigate the expansion of the testing program toinclude instruments that provide data focused on areas other than English and Mathematics (for example, ACT PLAN & EXPLORE, ACRE, and National Foreign Language Exams).
Integrate the use of the College Board’s AP Potential program into the placement and academic counseling program. This report makes recommendations for AP course placement based on PSAT scores. Provide staff development and collegial planning time specifically aimed at helping teachers to efficiently access the test score information available to them and use the information to inform their personal curriculum decisions.

Finding: Saint Thomas Aquinas High School has earned the overall assessment level of “Highly Functional” and has met this standard for accreditation.

Standard 5: Resource and Support Systems
Standard: The school has the resources and services necessary to support its vision and purpose and to ensure achievement for all students.
Description – The team noted how the school met the intent of the standard based on the preponderance of evidence.

Strengths – The team noted the following successful practices deserving of recognition.
STA has been successful in securing the professional services of instructional and non-instructional personnel who have a high degree of training and experience.
The school plant is very well maintained and a detailed crisis management/security plan has been successfully implemented.
The student services program is all encompassing, appropriately staffed, adequately financed and meets the educational needs of the student population.

Opportunities – The team offers the following opportunities for improvement for consideration by the school.
Strengthen the educational program to meet the needs of all levels of student learning, to include virtual school, dual enrollment, and special needs.

Finding: Saint Thomas Aquinas High School has earned the overall assessment level of “Highly Functional” and has met this standard for accreditation.

Standard 6: Stakeholder Communications and Relationships
Standard:
The school fosters effective communications and relationships with andamong its stakeholders.
Description – The team noted how the school met the intent of the standard based on the preponderance of evidence.

Strengths – The team noted the following successful practices deserving of recognition
STA has a significant number of long-term, loyal, parent, community, and alumnistakeholders that are actively involved in the support and successful operation of the school. Collectively they are instrumental in fostering a positive concept of “family.”

Opportunities – The team offers the following opportunities for improvement for consideration by the school:
Create a marketing product that can be used to annually disseminate all academic,fine arts and athletic successes and achievements. This can be used to broaden the awareness of specific current program improvements and enhancements.
Increase opportunities for staff and faculty to have awareness of, and involvement in, policy development and promulgation. This would promote buy in and ownership of all school plans and programs, thus strengthening the total school environment.
Develop a plan that specifically aides the participation of more minority parents and area community persons in these two stakeholder groups of the school and have it include stated actions that should aid this increase.

Finding: Saint Thomas Aquinas High School has earned the overall assessment level of “Operational” and has met this standard for accreditation.

Standard 7: Commitment to Continuous Improvement
Standard:
The school establishes, implements, and monitors a continuous process of improvement that focuses on student performance.

Strengths – The team noted the following successful practices deserving of recognition.
The school has implemented an annual survey and created a school improvement plan under the leadership of the administration.
The faculty shows great eagerness and proficiency in contributing to the continuous improvement of the school in regard to the accreditation process.

Opportunities – The team offers the following opportunities for improvement for consideration by the school.
Create a school Continuous Improvement Committee made up of representatives members of each stakeholder group which meets annually on a scheduled basis to guide an annual evaluation of the school’s action plans. This committee will review, evaluate, revise, and recalendar the school’s action plans, based on the findings of the QAR team report as well as annual progress and changing needs. Include more representation from differing socioeconomic and demographic spectrums of the school’s stakeholder groups in school’s Continuous Improvement Committee. Include all stakeholder groups in the process of implementing and reviewing the school’s Continuous Improvement Action Plan.
Review the benefits of the professional development opportunities participated in by the faculty as they align with and support the 5 year goals, encouraging activities that support the school’s plan. Consult extensively with the faculty to achieve, over time, a meaningful and effective integration of technology into the curriculum.

Finding: Saint Thomas Aquinas High School has earned the overall assessment level of “Operational” and has met this standard for accreditation.

The Quality Assurance Review Team expresses appreciation to the School Administration, members of the professional staff, students, parents and other community representatives for their hospitality throughout the visit. The team wishes the school and its students much success in the quest for excellence through SACS-CASI-FL accreditation with AdvancED.

Quality Assurance Review Team Members
Dr. Hilton T. Bonniwell, Chair/Lead Evaluator (Cardinal Gibbons HS)
Mrs. Kathy Gotshall, Team Member
Mr. Michael Liebman, Team Member
Mrs. Marrie McLaughlin, Team Member (Saint John Neumann High School)
Mrs. Dalia Y. Patterson, Team Member (Father Lopez High School)