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SAIS Accreditation

VISIT REPORT for Wesleyan School 5405 Spalding Drive Peachtree Corners, Georgia 30092 Zach Young, Headmaster zyoung@wesleyanschool.org 678-223-2250

Sara Cooper, Accreditation Coordinator scooper@wesleyanschool.org 678-223-2181

Rob Binion, Board Chair rbinion@lavista.com

October 29-31, 2012 Barbara Daush, Visiting Team Chair President / St. Agnes Academy - St. Dominic School

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A History of SAIS Accreditation SAIS member schools are part of a remarkable history of quality assurance in education. SAIS began its organizational life in 1903 as the “Mid-South Association of Independent Schools,” providing training for teachers in private schools and some early public schools in the southeastern states. In 1953, another organization began as the Southern Association of Independent Schools, providing a forum for independent school administrators to work with public schools through SACS and to contribute to the larger interest in accreditation in the southeast. MAIS and SAIS merged in 1986 to form the present SAIS, with an emphasis on accreditation through SACS for independent schools and professional development for administrators, trustees, and teachers. Today, SAIS works to help both established and emerging schools approach these issues with creativity and innovation. Working at the state, regional, and national levels, SAIS serves and strengthens member schools through the promotion of the highest quality educational standards and ethical conduct. The mission of SAIS is to provide leadership, accreditation services, and professional development resources that will strengthen member schools as they fulfill their missions. The focus of SAIS’s interest when it began in 1953 was to develop and maintain relationships with the expanding organization of SACS in order to ensure significant input from independent schools into the exploding world of public school accreditation. The post-WWII years of baby booming, facility planning, teacher training, and legislative entitlement funding eclipsed the scope and role of private education in America close to the current level of service. Part of this history of negotiating standards in a predominantly public school oriented world of education caused SAIS to embark on its own method of accreditation in the late '90s. The efforts resulted in the SAIS method of accreditation available to member schools. SAIS has designed and implemented a significant program of accreditation to assist member schools as they develop and promote high quality education in this region. This method is based on a school’s stated mission and its own unique approach to thorough and vigorous self-examination. In today’s world of accountability in schooling, accreditation serves as a critical component of a school’s demonstrated effectiveness and ability to provide successful schooling for children. A school that is able to achieve accreditation demonstrates a commitment to a process that requires the school to meet a set of rigorous standards; to engage in a program of continuous school improvement; and to demonstrate quality assurance to its stakeholders through self-evaluation and peer-review. SAIS accreditation provides schools access to an integrated network of services and technical assistance that supports every school’s ability to identify and meet its goals for improving student performance and the teaching and learning process. SAIS accredited member schools are part of an international network of accredited schools which have demonstrated success in educating children. As such, SAIS accreditation is recognized throughout the world as a symbol of quality in education for students and teachers. To earn accreditation, schools must meet quality standards, be evaluated by an outside group of peer professionals, and implement a school plan focused on strategic improvement and student performance. Accreditation is voluntary and must be renewed each year. SAIS Accreditation Visit Report

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Roster of Team Members Chair: Mrs. Barbara Daush, Chair President, St. Agnes Academy - St. Dominic School 4830 Walnut Grove Road Memphis, TN 38117 901.435.5815 bdaush@saa-sds.org Team Members: Mrs. Melton Weekley Lower School Director Athens Academy PO Box 6548 Athens, GA 30604 706.549.9225 Mr. Scott Wilson Head of School Baylor School 171 Baylor School Road Chattanooga, TN 37405 423.757.2800 sawilson@baylorschool.org Mr. Brian Wise Director of Diversity Planning Charlotte Country Day 1440 Carmel Road Charlotte, NC 28226-5096 704.943.4500 brian.wise@charlottecountryday.org Dr. Dana Smith Director of Educational Technology Greensboro Day School 5401 Lawndale Drive Greensboro, NC 27455 336.288.8590 danasmith@greensboroday.org SAIS Accreditation Visit Report

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The Review A team representing SAIS conducted an on-site visit to review this school’s self-study and standards compliance. The team was comprised of team members whose diverse independent school backgrounds provided an array of expertise. The visiting team sought the answers to these four critical questions within the framework of the school’s self-study. The following pages contain the findings. In conducting the on-site reviews, the visiting team was responsible for: 1. Assessing the adequacy of the self-study process; 2. Identifying strengths of the school deserving commendation; 3. Developing recommendations that may help to strengthen the programs of the school; 4. Assessing compliance with the standards of SAIS; 5. Developing a written report of the findings. To fulfill the team’s responsibilities, team members: 1. Reviewed documentation provided by the school; 2. Conducted interviews with board members, parents, school personnel, students, and community members; 3. Applied the standards for accreditation; 4. Developed a draft of commendations and recommendations; 5. Contributed to the content and focus of the written report; 6. Provided input as to the determination of accreditation. The primary focus of the self-study process is to demonstrate the capacity of a school to meet the requirements for accreditation. A typical self-study consists of: • Analysis and response to accreditation standards; • Identification and demonstration of a continuous process of improvement; • Implementation of methods that provide for quality assurance. The study addresses four critical questions: 1. PROFILE: Where is the school today? The PROFILE should include clear, comprehensive information reflecting current student performance data, stakeholder perspectives, community characteristics, and analysis of strengths and limitations in the areas of student learning and school performance. 2. VISION: Where does the school want to go? The VISION is a clear, compelling purpose communicated through the school’s vision and mission statements, beliefs, and core values. 3. PLAN: What is the plan to get there? The PLAN should be based on an analysis of pertinent data, research of best practices, and alignment with generally-accepted expectations for student learning at schools with similar missions. 4. RESULTS: How will the school know when it has accomplished its plan? The RESULTS are documented evidence demonstrating successful implementation if strategies that resulted in accomplishment of the school’s mission and student achievement gains related to the school’s mission.

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School Snapshot Wesleyan’s mission is “to be a Christian School of academic excellence, by providing each student a diverse college preparatory education guided by Christian principles and beliefs; by challenging and nurturing the mind, body and spirit; and developing responsible stewardship in our changing world.” The School defines and delivers its Christian mission by the Trinitarian teachers it hires to share the gospel with its students: to preach a sermon every day, and when necessary, use words. The School’s motto is Jesus, Others, Yourself. Spelled vertically, JOY projects the values system and life attitude that the School encourages the teachers to reflect themselves, and, thereby, encourages the children to adopt. Established in 1963 as an integral part of the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church, Wesleyan Day School began as a preschool and was expanded to include an elementary and middle school. During the 1994-95 school year, the Board of Trustees made the decision to extend beyond the middle school level and create a high school. Wesleyan moved its campus to its current site north of Atlanta in the summer of 1996. Over the past 15 years, a gorgeous campus has developed including eight buildings, several athletic fields, tennis courts and a football stadium. Having paid off all external debt in 2010, the School is in sound financial health. Wesleyan currently enrolls 1135 students in grades K-12 and offers students opportunities to participate in a wide range of activities within the arts, athletics, and fellowship groups in order to build the strongest foundation for the whole person. The current governance structure is a 21person Board of Trustees, a Headmaster and ten top leadership administrators who report to the Headmaster. The School has $10 million in its endowment fund, and it currently gives $1.2 million in financial aid. In the fall of 2012, the Board will begin its fifth capital campaign for identified facility upgrades, additional field space and endowment growth. Beginning in 2010, the entire school staff and administration, led by a steering committee, became fully entrenched in developing priorities for the 2012-2017 school improvement plan. After a thorough process of data collection, the steering committee recommended to continue work on gender-based instruction and critical thinking for the 2012-2017 school improvement plan. Additionally, the staff decided to explore how the School can create a school environment that is diverse, respectful and safe by directly and consistently addressing the School’s JOY motto and priority system of Jesus, Others, Yourself. The Board of Trustees will enter into another five-year strategic planning process beginning in 2013. Through this process, the Board and the school community will address ways to meet Wesleyan’s future needs.

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PROFILE PROFILE: Where is the school today? Wesleyan School is a K-12 independent Christian school celebrating its 49th year with a record enrollment of 1135 students. The School was established in 1963 as part of the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church. Originally known as Wesleyan Day School, it began as a preschool and was expanded to include an elementary and a middle school. With the addition of the high school in 1996 and the divestiture from the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church, the School relocated to its current 85 acre site north of Atlanta. The School has seen tremendous growth in the past 16 years in physical assets. Contributing factors include the highly successful capital campaigns yielding $115 million. Endowment stands at $10 million and the average parent participation to the annual fund is 95%. Currently, the school has paid off all external debt. The overall campus design is complete with several smaller scale projects planned as part of the next Capital Campaign phase. The Wesleyan School Christian mission is the framework by which all decisions are based. A goal as part of the mission and beliefs of Wesleyan is “to preserve, elevate and transmit a Christcentered worldview to students, the parents and the community through the presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the authentic discipleship by the trustees, faculty and staff” (Strategic Plan of Wesleyan School, October 2008). The school Motto JOY (Jesus, Others, Yourself) permeates the School in all endeavors. While the faculty and administrators represent any and all Trinitarian denominations, the student body includes children from all (and no) faith backgrounds. The focus on Biblical Integration is a critical part of a Wesleyan education. “Believing that all children are uniquely gifted, the School offers a college preparatory program which challenges, nurtures, and strengthens all its students. The school community welcomes students of diverse racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds” (Wesleyan Family Handbook). Education is delivered by a talented group of faculty and staff who regularly participate in meaningful faculty evaluation and professional development. Faculty development is well supported, especially advanced degree attainment. Of the 148 faculty, 63% hold advanced degrees. The School growth initiatives have included critical thinking, gender-based instruction and mathematics. Extensive student performance data has been collected and analyzed to determine progress. The arts, athletics and academics are integral parts of the Wesleyan experience. The mind, body, spirit are considered in cultivating each child’s beliefs. Commendations: The visiting team commends the School for: ● Focusing on the relationships faculty members develop with students. In concert with the mission, the faculty is vested in developing the whole child in mind, body and spirit. ● Developing a strong sense of family within the community. A common thread found among all the constituents was the JOY motto. Through this philosophy, bonds and a shared commonality contribute to the sense of family at Wesleyan. ● Committing to growing future teachers through the Faculty Fellows program.

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Recommendations: The visiting team recommends the School: ● Consider using other survey resources such as those provided by SAIS. ● Consider strategies to support students at all levels who have demonstrated learning differences. ● Address the concerns of students regarding the School climate especially as it relates to “social cliques.”

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VISION VISION: Where does the school want to go? The Wesleyan story stands a remarkable testament to the fulfillment of a vision: the development and growth of a "Christian school of academic excellence". The extraordinary commitment to and articulation of the School's mission, from the Board of Trustees through the youngest students, provide a foundation from which the Wesleyan school family may move confidently into the future. The ever-present reminder of J-O-Y (Jesus-Others-Yourself) across campus and the faculty's concurrent commitment to providing students an outstanding academic experience truly reflect the mission. Now, as the School moves from its dynamic institutional youth to become a more mature independent school, Wesleyan can face challenges and opportunities with confidence. As profound as the Wesleyan story is and as successful as the School has been, there exists an ethos for constant institutional improvement. The School's self-study and evolving strategic plan demonstrate a willingness to ask tough questions and to seek elusive answers in how the School's mission might be more well-served. More importantly, significant actions taken by the School, from gender-based instruction in the middle school to the adoption of one-to-one tablet technology, stand as evidence of such. Clearly, the beneficiaries of all of these initiatives are Wesleyan students for whom everyone at the School works so passionately. In sum, Wesleyan stands as a wonderful school with a compelling mission and an energized vision for an even brighter future. Commendations: The visiting team commends the School for the following: ● The clarity of and comprehensive adherence to the mission across all constituencies. ● The clear commitment to instructional effectiveness and student learning by sustaining and supporting the single-gender initiative in the middle school and by broadening understanding of learning styles for all students. ● The emphasis on developing curricula and instruction that inspires critical thinking in students across all divisions. ● The recognition that a more diverse faculty and student body will add to the richness of the Wesleyan experience. ● Integrating Biblical principles throughout the curriculum. This reality, conscientiously and enthusiastically achieved by the faculty, works to further the mission of the School every day. Recommendations: The visiting team recommends that the School consider the following: ● Define what "academic excellence" means for Wesleyan. Because of the School's compelling mission and its presence in a highly competitive market, the School's leadership should consider more clearly articulating how it defines excellence. Without such clarity, different constituencies will use default benchmarks to evaluate the School's fulfillment of this facet of the mission. SAIS Accreditation Visit Report

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â—? Define what "diversity" means for Wesleyan. While the School articulates a desire to become more diverse, there is not consensus about what that "looks like" at Wesleyan. Having defined diversity for the Wesleyan campus, the School will then be able to consider diversity as represented in Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and student body. â—? Broaden participation in strategic planning efforts to include all constituencies (students, faculty, parents, alumni, trustees). While the School has fostered a deep sense of loyalty and trust among its constituents, broader participation will foster a richer vision for the future and broader buy-in across the entire school family. â—? Evaluate the entire Wesleyan experience for students. While the School is addressing disparate facets of a student's experience, the total educational experience of a Wesleyan student bears studying. The committee is confident that the School will be both affirmed and informed by a comprehensive understanding of a student's journey through this program.

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PLAN PLAN: What is the plan to get there? Wesleyan School was founded upon and continues to be grounded in its Christian mission, principles, and beliefs. Every action, every plan is preceded by the question, “What is Your will for Wesleyan?” As stated by Robert Binion, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, “The future [of Wesleyan] is in God’s hands; we can only ask for His will to be done and for our plans to glorify His Kingdom”. (Strategic Plan of Wesleyan, October 2008) As the result of a 2007 School Improvement Plan and a 2008 Strategic Plan, Wesleyan has moved forward in fulfilling its mission. The previous plan included three overarching goals: 1) Students shall benefit from gender based-instruction. 2) Students shall demonstrate critical thinking; and 3) Students shall demonstrate math proficiency. In preparation for the current SAIS-SACS accreditation, School Improvement Plan committees were established which included: Survey, School Data, Previous Plan, Vision, Mission and Beliefs. Since August of 2010, these committees have worked arduously to review previous goals, assess current programming and provide recommendations for future plans. After reviewing relevant data, numerous surveys and input from all school constituencies, Wesleyan has decided to continue with two of its previous goals 1) gender-based instruction and 2) critical thinking. In addition, Wesleyan has established a third primary goal in which, 3) Students, faculty, and parents shall benefit in all divisions from a diverse, respectful, and safe school environment that reflects our JOY motto. Additional planning recognized the need for enhancing stewardship, paying close attention to programmatic needs of students and families, increasing the student body, and ensuring the financial stability and future of Wesleyan beyond the physical plan. As such, future plans for construction only include enhancements to existing facilities. Primary to any and all future planning is the core adherence to the mission of the School. Commendations: The visiting team commends the School for: ● The work of the SAIS-SACS Steering Committee under the leadership of Sara Cooper and Kathy Benson and the working committees of the School Improvement Plan 2012. ● Developing a thorough planning process which included committees, surveys and total school engagement. ● Appointing a Diversity Coordinator. ● Creating the action steps outlined under the three overarching goals. . Recommendations: The visiting team recommends that the School consider: ● Ensure that the numerous goals in the action plans are placed into a realistic timeline that is monitored and evaluated on an annual basis. SAIS Accreditation Visit Report

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● Reconcile the difference in expectations for critical thinking for teachers and students. While significant thought and work has been devoted to this task, there remains acknowledged intellectual tension as a consequence of the disparity in expectations. If the School is satisfied with the current definitions for each group, then consensus should be reached about that fact. ● Review and assess concerns of the academic challenges and pressures including homework as expressed by both faculty and students. ● Develop a plan to address the need for additional instructional support, supervision and coaching. ● Continue to solidify the role and support of the Diversity Coordinator.

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RESULTS RESULTS: How will the school know when it has accomplished its plan? Wesleyan made excellent use of the results from their work for the past five years to put forth a detailed and well-designed School Improvement Plan. This comprehensive working document provides a strong foundation for the continuation and expansion of their work in gender-based education and critical thinking. To assure a complete understanding of the current climate at Wesleyan, a survey was distributed to all current stakeholders (faculty, students and parents). Each goal as outlined in the Plan is broken into clear action steps that provide direction for the members of the Wesleyan community. Through periodic review of the Plan, ensuring the creation of goal-based assessments and evaluation methods, the School will make excellent progress and realize its mission and motto in new and interesting contexts. Commendations: The visiting team commends the School for: ● A thorough data collection that informs goals and action steps. ● Exceptional participation in surveys and other forms of data collection. ● Demonstrating a flexible and responsive administration who are open to constituent input as exemplified in ○ Improvement of food service; ○ Creation of Upper School Principal’s Student Advisory Committee and new Upper School advisory program for 9th /10th grade students; ○ Creation of Upper School schedule that regards student workload and need for flexible time; ○ Responding to faculty retention needs by creating a daycare co-op for faculty nonschool aged children. Recommendations: The visiting team recommends that the School consider: ● Establish clear, measurable objectives to serve as benchmarks for evaluating success. With ongoing work and without benchmarks to shoot for, it remains difficult to determine concrete progress and to identify program areas that the School might want to adjust. ● Explore other avenues for assessments of critical thinking success (e.g. College Work and Readiness Assessment). ● Attempt to find the time and resources necessary to tabulate teacher and student comments regarding gender-based education and to draw conclusions from them. ● Develop a systematic Faculty Professional Development Plan that includes vision and consideration for balance of time between the classroom and professional growth. This plan should include (but is not limited to) technology growth and gender-based education. ● Institute a climate survey to help in establishing a community definition of diversity.

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Additional Commendations and Recommendations Commendations: The visiting team commends the School for: ● A highly dedicated, visionary and joyful leadership team all of whom are completely devoted to the mission of Wesleyan School. ● Creating an aesthetically pleasing and attractive physical plant that provides comfortable and remarkable teaching and learning spaces for all grade levels. Additionally, given that the building and grounds are meticulously cared for, clearly the maintenance staff takes pride in its work. ● Adopting the “Talk About It” program for the middle and upper school students. ● Fostering a significant and substantial culture of giving to the annual fund. ● The Headmaster’s visionary leadership and the Board’s support for that leadership. ● Creating a formidable mission trip program for students which fosters a sense of “giving back” and an insight to global awareness. ● Implementing a strong Technology faculty/student support system including a wellstaffed help desk and technology integrationist. ● Developing beautiful and appropriate school publications, website and other marketing materials. Recommendations: The visiting team recommends that the School consider: ● Continue to create a five-year financial budget based upon a thoroughly developed enrollment management plan that predicts: ○ faculty growth, salaries and benefits; ○ student applications and attrition; ○ financial assistance for children of faculty; ○ student financial aid including the evaluation of extending financial aid to Lower School students; ○ capital expenditures; ○ sources of revenue other than tuition. ● Develop a communication plan that will share the school improvement plan with parents and other constituents. ● Develop a system of communicating with and tracking graduates with respect to their successes in college and beyond. This will provide another measure for understanding the state of the School.

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SUMMARY The Visiting Team was thoroughly impressed by the sense of community and family at Wesleyan School. All constituents (parents, students, alumni and faculty/staff) fully embrace the mission as a Christian School and are devoted to the School’s motto of JOY: Jesus, Others, Yourself. The Board of Trustees and Headmaster are to be applauded for creating such a beautiful campus and formidable educational program that serves all of the students and staff so comprehensively and appropriately. Finally, the Visiting Team sincerely thanks the Wesleyan family for its warmth, hospitality, and fellowship of Christian love and wishes it every good fortune as it writes yet another chapter in its development of young men and women of JOY.

CONCLUSION The visiting team finds: 1. That the School is in compliance with all standards of the SAIS-AdvancED accreditation process. 2. That the self-study conducted by the school meets the standard of quality and thoroughness required by the SAIS accreditation process and answers the four critical questions as outlined in the Guidebook. 3. That the School is unanimously recommended for SAIS-AdvancED accreditation.

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SAIS/SACS Accreditation  

SAIS/SACS Accreditation

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