Butte Central High School recently completed an 18-month intensive survey of its accreditation standards by the Western Catholic Education Association.

This is on top of the usual accreditation that all high schools must pass through the Office of Public Instruction. A Catholic school has to first be accredited in order to participate in the higher level review.

Central Principal Tim Norbeck said the result in essence will be a strategic plan for the high school going forward. The association’s final report will be out in June or July.

The way it works is that the high school does a self-evaluation that several education experts review in a four-day visit.

Dignitaries who participated in the study include a member of the WCEA who oversees about 18 Catholic schools in Monterey, Calif., and staff from St. Labre, Billings Central, Missoula Loyola and Great Falls Central. The experts worked with focus groups along several areas of academic study.

Some of school’s strengths, according to the study, include that several staff members are also alumni; students gain experience outside the classrooms; staff career development is available; strong financial reviews; and the students give back to the community through organizations such as Butte Cares, TASC and a lunch program for the needy.

The school was advised to build on a long-term strategic plan; grow the curriculum wherever possible; and encourage upper level students to take higher level science and math classes, among other suggestions.

“I would like to see us do a better job of tracking our graduates when they leave,” Norbeck said. “We should know how our students are doing one year, five years, and 10 years out of high school.”

A final review board of 30 looks over the recommendations and will issue the final report. Some of the reviewers will return to the school in two to three years to ensure action plans are being met.

“It’s a healthy process and one that will make our school stronger in the long run,” Norbeck said.

Editor Gerry O’Brien may be reached via email at gerry.obrien@lee.net.

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