Both of EASTCONN’s public magnet high schools, Quinebaug Middle College (QMC) and Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT), have attained accreditation by the highly respected New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), following a 7-year-long, rigorous process of self-study and assessment that included the participation of students, staff and community members.
NEASC recently notified EASTCONN that QMC (located on the Quinebaug Valley Community College campus in Danielson) and ACT (in downtown Willimantic), had earned NEASC accreditation. Most public high schools in Connecticut are NEASC-accredited. Both QMC and ACT are public magnet high schools, which are open to all eastern Connecticut students in grades 9-12. EASTCONN administers QMC and ACT.
“I am so proud of our school community,” said ACT Principal Sarah Mallory. “Our staff and students work so hard every day and it means so much that NEASC was able to come to our magnet schools and validate the work we do. The reports that the NEASC Visiting Committee prepared for us will help drive the work we do around school improvement for years to come.”
NEASC is an independent, voluntary, non-profit membership organization that connects and serves 2,000+ public and independent schools, colleges and universities in New England, as well as International Schools in more than 65 nations. A globally recognized, research-driven standard of excellence, NEASC accreditation attests to a school’s quality and integrity. Accreditation also assures colleges and universities about the quality and validity of a high school graduate’s academic history during the college application process.
“Going through the challenging NEASC process that started seven years ago, culminating with a deep self-study and a three-day visit from the NEASC Review Committee, has already improved QMC as a learning community and in many meaningful ways,” said QMC Principal Gino LoRicco. “I am so proud of the work that our students, families, staff, EASTCONN and QVCC have engaged in thus far in our journey, and I look forward to the work that’s now before us.”
The NEASC accreditation process is intensive and demanding, and requires years to complete. ACT and QMC began in 2010 to work toward “initial candidacy” status, which they achieved three years later. After that, both schools began the complex process of self-study, which they successfully completed in January 2017. Last spring, a nine-member NEASC Visiting Committee arrived to assess both schools, using seven key standards: Core Values and Beliefs; Curriculum; Instruction; Assessment; School Culture and Leadership; School Resources for Learning; and Community Resources for Learning. In order to retain their accreditation status, ACT and QMC must continue to meet NEASC standards, which are reassessed at specific intervals.
“The NEASC process is significant because it requires that schools engage in a very thorough, very honest, data-based investigation of everything that we do within the school to advance teaching and learning, and how we are supported by the district and the community,” said Dr. Toni Ryan, EASTCONN’s Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. “For a typical high school, the task is a ‘heavy lift’, but for a small magnet school with few faculty, it’s even more laborious, which is why not all magnets seek NEASC accreditation. It requires all hands to be on multiple decks, simultaneously.”
ACT is an arts magnet high school for capable, independent learners that integrates standards-based core academics with an arts-focused curriculum, emphasizing theater, dance, audio/video, creative writing, and technical theater (lighting, sound, set design, costume design). Learn more at www.eastconn.org/act, or call 860-465-5636, ext. 1.
QMC enrolls capable, independent, non-traditional learners who seek more control over their educational program. While earning their QMC high school degree, students may attend QVCC college courses and earn free college credits toward an associate’s degree. Learn more at www.eastconn.org/qmc, or call 860-932-4040.
EASTCONN is a public, non-profit, Regional Educational Service Center (RESC) that has been serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut’s schools and communities since 1980. Learn more at www.eastconn.org. EASTCONN is also a member of Connecticut’s RESC Alliance, composed of six non-profit RESCs statewide. Created decades ago by the Connecticut Legislature, RESCs collaborate with schools and communities to help them obtain high-quality, cost-effective education programs and services. RESC Alliance partners include ACES, CES, CREC, EASTCONN, EdAdvance and LEARN. Visit www.rescalliance.org.