This week my school was re-accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. These are my notes from the WASC Presentation on Thursday after school and I post them in hopes that some of you may find them interesting! I walked away from this presentation feeling validated and inspired to continue the amazing accomplishments Shanghai American School has achieved under Dr. Dennis Larkin’s Superintendency. I am very excited to be a part of this journey forward. Our charge is clear and WASC provided us a confirmation of our intended direction:

  • Upgrade our infrastructure to support technology
  • Integrate technology across all curriculum areas
  • Track professional development, connecting it to student learning
  • Develop an school-wide assessment plan

Tech, PD and Assessment – These are a few of my favorite topics in education!

On the techie side, we live streamed the presentation between the two campuses using our polycom video-conferencing equipment so that both the Puxi and Pudong communities could be a part of the presentation… very cool for such a large staff!


Dr. Dennis Larkin opened the joint WASC Visiting Committee Final Presentation on the Puxi and Pudong campuses of Shanghai American School. Tim Carr, Superintendent at American School in Japan (ASIJ) and chair of the committee took the podium for opening remarks and immediately commented that WASC has never had a team this big before during the accreditation process. Through speaking with all constituent groups, the WASC committee and report supports the growth and learning of Shanghai American School…. we celebrate together the phenomenal accomplishments since the midterm visit in 2005.

Organization of Student Learning

Areas of Strength

  • Mission, Vision, and ESLERS (EAGLES) are infused across the school culture
  • Process of the creating of the above was intentionally sequenced and involved all members of the SAS community
  • Board has clarified it’s role in policy setting
  • Orientation process has supported the significant increase of new staff
  • OSTC has been addressed using advance technology and presence of upper admin
  • Align programs of both campus
  • Professional Develop is a robust network
  • The leadership team has managed significant improvements over a period of rapid growth

Areas for Followup

  • EAGLES further integrated
  • Mission made more aware in parent community
  • Board of Directors need to strengthen momentum regarding direction setting and movement towards goals
  • Further communicate and celebrate what is same and what is different between the two campuses
  • Track Professional Development and link to student achievement
  • Reporting protocols for standards/benchmarks and EAGLES need to be visited
  • Admin structure needs to be reviewed to support a school of this size

Curriculum and Instruction

Areas of Strength

  • Standards based curriculum k-12 in all areas created collaboratively with teachers
  • Dedicated professionals tiredlessly work to create/develop across the board
  • Teacher leaders work collaboratively to reflect on practice for student learning
  • The Professional Development program focuses on developing an extensive learning community

Areas of Followup

  • Use Atlas to fine-tune and ensure alignment between documented and taught curriculum
  • Quantitative measures need to be in place to assess instructional strategies
  • Increase the integration of technology
  • Promote integration of collaborative learning communities
  • School-wide assessment program needs to be in place to evaluate student learning

Support for Student and Personal and Academic Growth

Areas of Strength

  • All programs reflect the core values and EAGLES emphasizing the whole-child education
  • Multiple activities and programs are available for students
  • Nurturing environment all the way through admissions to learning programs
  • Qualified staff across the board
  • Active and supportive parent community
  • Leadership uses a wide range of communication strategies

Areas of Followup

  • Investigate Professional Development for ESOL training for ALL teachers
  • More connection between activities, China Alive and the EAGLES
  • Strengthen ties between support services and teachers
  • Use Tech for communication methods to make info accessible across the board
  • Celebrate uniqueness
  • Continue to find the balance between academics/social and emotional growth of child

Resource Management and Development

Areas of Strength

  • A thoughtful plan exists for growth
  • Leadership has positioned school for long-term financial stability
  • Good professional development funds
  • Works to retain high quality faculty through a compensation plan
  • Budgeting is aligned with EAGLES
  • Purpose built facilities
  • Community involved in long-range planning
  • leadership recognizes challenges of keeping stakeholders informed about finances
  • SAS has identified a desire to enhance revenue sources and uses good marketing strategies

Areas of Followup

  • Finance department and admin need to identify ways to streamline budgeting
  • Track asset inventory
  • Focus on school wide building maintenance
  • Educate the community on long-range planning processes

School-wide Areas of Strength and Areas of Followup


An EAGLES vision… old Shanghai vs. new Shanghai…the instructional program has come a long way in a short amount of time. SAS is the model of what this city is….

  • Impressive and honest self study involving all stakeholders
  • Inspirational vision that provides guidance for the community
  • Recruitment of a talented, passionate and committed faculty
  • Responding to new faculty, orientation supports Professional Development for newbies
  • Excellent and purpose built facilities on two campuses to sustain OSTC
  • Significant progress on curriculum articulation and mapping which has brought coherence to the learning program
  • Rich Professional Development opportunities
  • CollaborationEagle Takes Off by camden hackworth of community
  • Opportunities for parents to work with the school
  • Initiation of an advanced model of comminucation, marketing, admissions, fundraising
  • Admission overhaul excellent keeps families
  • Strategic Financial Plan
  • Effective management during extremely rapid growth which enabled uninterrupted quality educational opportunities


  1. PACE – The pace has been fast over recent years.
  2. PRIORITIES – Think 3 years, 5 years for long term health of the school’s educational program
  3. PERSONNEL – A school this size will be recruiting a minimum of 50 teachers a year. Stay competitive.
  • Develop Tech Infrastructure that will support integration.. the wiring must support the computer usage.
  • Promote a Learning Community to support ongoing focus on improved student learning
  • Set in place a consistent Assessment program that aligns with outcomes
  • Continue to work at integrating the EAGLES across all classes and activities
  • Devise ways to track the efficacy of Professional Development and link to student achievement, evaluation and goal setting
  • Streamline budgeting process
  • Board of Directors must become a strategic thinking body focusing on the school’s vision
  • Board of Directors should ensure a smooth leadership transition and empower and support the new superintendent

EAGLES – We will SOAR as EAGLES into the future…

Fly Like an EAGLE SAS!


One Comment to “Why I Love Accreditation Visits…”

  1. Briansotr says:

    Thanks for sharing the report with the rest of the world. I found it odd that the technology Infrastructure needs further development. Even though I haven’t visited your school, the impression I have as an outsider is a school with a finely developed Technology foundation.