Materials prepared by Meghan Kimpton, Head of School The Meridian School, Seattle Washington
**This blog is adapted from a webinar, which you can view here.
The Meridian School is a member of NWAIS, an accrediting body that engages schools in an eight-year cycle of continuous improvement. Each cycle culminates in a school accreditation process that entails a robust self-study process and site visit by NWAIS to ensure the school satisfied the prescribed standards for accreditation.
Initiating a Curriculum Mapping Process
Reflecting on feedback from its previous NWAIS accreditation process, The Meridian School recognized the need to initiate a curriculum mapping process in order to document all their curriculum to prepare for their upcoming accreditation process. They describe Atlas as being ‘transformative’ for the school in housing all teachers’ work in one central location. For the first time, their curriculum was documented in an accessible place and on a platform that allowed it to be easily reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
Supporting Consistency and Alignment
Several Atlas features supported The Meridian School in documenting an integrated, consistent, and robust curriculum for the NWAIS accreditation:
One of the school’s driving goals was to have a more coherent and consistent scope and sequence. In Atlas, the unit planner allowed curriculum maps across subjects and grade levels to be documented using the same template.
To support consistency in how each unit was documented, The Meridian School also used a style guide to support teachers as they developed curriculum in the unit planner. The style guide was linked at the top of every unit planner, making it easily accessible for teachers as they developed their curriculum. The guide was inspired by a style guide provided by Atlas, which was modified to reflect the school planner.
As the curriculum took shape, the Standards Analysis Report allowed Meridian School to track and demonstrate that their curriculum was aligned with national and state standards and informed their curriculum development.
Thanks in large part to a clear and consistent unit planner and style guide, the uniformity in the maps helped support the Meridian School in creating a public site. A public site is an optional feature of Atlas that allows schools to publicize their curriculum according to their specifications. For example, the public site can be augmented to show only specific mapping categories, courses, or subjects. And, the public site can be password protected or made available only to specific groups.
The Meridian School used the public site to make their curriculum accessible to the NWAIS accreditation team. They chose to focus on the essential questions, content and skills, and assessments, as well as the scope and sequence when determining which parts of the curriculum to make available.
Following their re-accreditation, the school plans to make their public site visible to parents as a link via their website to demonstrate the great curricular work their teachers are doing to support student achievement.
Simplify School Accreditation with Atlas
Learn how schools use Atlas to enhance their accreditation process from initial planning, evidence gathering, reporting to the site visit, and creating a plan for improvement.
Commendations from the Accrediting Body
Having the curriculum available via Atlas was not only integral in helping The Meridian School manage the accreditation process, but it also informed much of the praise they received from the NWAIS accreditation team. Atlas was specifically supportive in helping Meridian demonstrate that it:
- Had a mission-aligned curriculum
- Supported cohesive and consistent curriculum within all program areas
- Reviewed and updated curriculum at least once per review cycle
Building on the Momentum
The Meridian School is underway reviewing their curriculum in Atlas and plans to update different content areas each year. Not only that, as they continuously improve their curriculum, they also intend to make it visible to parents and prospective families and teachers via the public site. Documenting curriculum in Atlas helped jumpstart a curriculum initiative unlike anything in the school’s past. Moreover, what was initially a support for the NWAIS accreditation process is now an integral piece of the school’s process.