Last month, every student completed the WASC survey. Though it seemed like just another survey, it actually is one of the main reasons Presentation is what it is today.
Presentation receives its accreditation through a partnership with WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) and WCEA (Western Catholic Education Association). A six-year WASC accreditation, which is the ultimate goal, indicates that Presentation has achieved its educational mission in most areas and continues to strive toward excellence in areas that need work. All schools in the Bay Area–public and private–undergo WASC evaluations, though they will not necessarily be in the same year.
One way schools identify their strengths and areas that need improvement is through surveys. The student survey is, therefore, a tool used to measure whether the school is meeting its stated goals. If the surveys, which are also given to the staff, parents, and alumnae, reveal that the school is in fact doing what it is supposed to, then it helps the school gain re-accreditation for the maximum term.
So the survey was necessary. But why was it so….long? Sophomore Ais Rooney said, “I didn’t understand what the purpose of the survey was and why it asked so many questions.”
The person in charge of administering the survey, Vice Principal of Academics Ms. Edson, said, “In order to give an accurate report, the survey that the school releases must ask certain questions. The majority of the questions that the school asks are based on prompts that WASC provides.” That’s why the questions aren’t necessarily the ones that students would have liked to have answered.
Nevertheless, once the survey responses are compiled, they are reviewed by the WASC leadership committee, made up of teachers, administrators, and parents. They then write a report that covers what Presentation is doing well, and also what needs work.
Ms. Edson said, “To get a student’s perspective, the school also creates a student committee that will meet with the leadership team to provide feedback on the surveys.” For example, if the survey results indicated that students think that classrooms were less than satisfactory, the student committee would be able to elaborate what the problem is.
The areas for improvement are summarized into a five-year action plan, which then serves as a blueprint for the school to achieve its goals. Some of the things that have come from this process in the past are Leadership Academy, the aquatics center, the theater, the soccer and softball fields and the Speech and Debate program. The fact that everyone associated with Presentation—students, faculty, parents, and alumnae—get to have a voice in shaping the future of Presentation is very exciting.While this survey, consisting of almost all
multiple choice questions, was not the place
for students to air their every complaint or
suggestion, what would students say if they
had the opportunity to do so? Find out what
some students would have included in their
Although there were a great number of
questions asking out students’ rating of academic
departments and classes, some students
felt they did not get to give suggestions for
future classes. Since Pres has such an academically
diverse community, some students would
like to see more AP classes, such as AP Chemistry.
Considering the size of the school, it
would be very diffi cult for Pres to include a
very large array of classes, so some students
suggested that classes taken in the summer at
local community colleges count for credits at
A free response section for school policies
is one that many students missed in the
survey. Since the school’s policies primarily affect
the students, open responses would allow
for more accurate feedback.
Sophomore Anna Thomas said, “I would
have like to have seen free response questions
about policies, like graduation requirements,
to be changed.” Students feel there are some
classes that should not be required so they
have more room to take classes they want to
Another suggestion for the graduation
requirement specifi cally regarding the extra semester
of P.E. is that athletes be exempt from
it. Junior Maggie Kettmen said, “Athletes work
out so much and it is not fair that it does not
count as a P.E. credit.”
Students feel that, even after the survey,
they still had a lot of suggestions for improving
the campus that they did not get a chance
Freshman Milan Brahney said, “One suggestion
to improve Presentation is redoing the
center. I think it would be a great renovation
A major suggestion from students is to
make the food service healthier. Many students
feel the main dishes offered at lunch are
still too unhealthy, and others feel they should
consequently be allowed to go off campus for
lunch. Junior Julia Heil said, “Had there been
a free response section about the food sold in
the cafeteria, a lot of girls, including me, would
have requested healthier food.”
Another area that students feel need improvement
is the school’s network. Though
the school’s staff is aware of the problem,
students still wished they could provide suggestions
for not just the network, but for other
technology at Pres. Sophomore Laetitia Galeazzi
said, “My friends and I are rarely able
to get our laptops connected when it is very
important to do so.”