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CUHSD in the News: Branham High passes test for next accreditation

Original article by Julia Baum in the Cambrian Resident.

Branham High School got a thumbs-up to be reaccredited after a recent three-day visit from representatives of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

The state mandates that all public high schools and colleges must be accredited, and the process of renewing that status holds them accountable to their communities and provides educators with valuable insight for improvement.

Branham was last visited by the committee in 2010, according to principal David Putney. He expects the school to be reaccredited for a six-year period, just like last time.

"We'll see the outcome in May or June that will give us the next term," Putney said. "I feel like it was a really good process, so I feel good about it."

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges is considered the professional standard for academic accreditation, according to Putney.

"The California Department of Education would want us to go through an accreditation process, and they recognize WASC as their preferred choice," he said. "Almost all high schools, universities and colleges use WASC."

The process is rigorous. Months before it starts, Branham High staff and faculty study their own operation to prepare for the committee.

"They spend time in classrooms, they visit and observe classes, they observe passing and lunch," Putney said. "They also select their own kind of students they'd like to speak with, randomly selecting students. It's really all been a transparent process because we want to make sure that we reflect our community by being open and transparent."

The committee also gave Branham major props for its dedication to integrating technology into the classroom. Putney said the school is steadily reaching its long-term goal of providing all students with their own Chromebooks. Teachers are also increasingly using Google Classroom for online collaboration.

"We're really just working hard to continue to infuse that in our classes," he said. "For every three students, we have at least one Chromebook."

Branham High has previously been recognized as a California Distinguished School.

Julia Baum can be reached at jbaum@community-newspapers.com.