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Manumalo Baptist Academy first and only Level K-8 school in AS currently accredited by WASC

blue@samoanews.com

Manumalo Baptist Academy in Malaeimi is the first and only Level K-8 school in American Samoa that is currently accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This is according to Lynn West and Carol Emerson who, on behalf of WASC, spent three days at the school, visiting and observing the classrooms as part of their mid-cycle review.
 
According to Emerson, every high school in the territory is accredited by WASC and the concept of getting the elementary schools accredited was introduced last year, something that according to her, is encouraged by the Dept. of Education.
 
Manumalo closed the doors to its high school program last year but, said Emerson, “they were ahead of the game,” as they initially had a Level K-12 school but since the high school closed its doors, the school now becomes that only level K-8 program on island that is accredited by WASC.
 
WASC heads the accreditation activities and keeps track of school cycles. Mid-cycle review visits are used to gather information that is then relayed to the Commission which grants accreditation.
 
Emerson and West explained that it is always recommended for schools to continue to work on school-wide action plans and look into things that need to be addressed.
 
West said the process is always ongoing and includes input from stakeholders. “This is the means by which we can determine the progress of the schools.”
 
She said three local high school will undergo accreditation reviews next month and next year, there will be either a revisit or full visit carried out.
 
“It is a long process with so many criteria,” West said when asked what a school has to do in order to get accreditation from WASC. The initial phase includes a visit from two WASC members - who are volunteer educators - whose jobs are to meet and speak  to the school’s team and gather important information and data. Once that’s completed, the ball starts rolling and discussions turn to school wide action plans, and understanding how to educate.
 
For Manumalo, they said, it took about 2-3 years for the initial phase of the process , as there was a need to collect data, analyze student needs, and get the stakeholders involved.
 
Efforts to get Manumalo accredited were initiated six years ago by the school board which was then headed by Utu Abe Malae. When contacted for comments over the weekend, Utu said, “I credit Mr. Jim Civale, who was the director at the time.”
 
According to Utu, the school board “worked exceedingly well with Civale. He was able to respond satisfactorily to all the questions from the accreditation team in a professional manner and more importantly, got things done with a sense of urgency.”
 
Utu continued, “I thoroughly enjoyed working with someone who answered questions on point; who understood financial statements, proper staffing, accountability, and the education profession in particular.”
 
Finally, Utu concluded, “We had no drama whatsoever... and thank God for that.”
 
Manumalo’s current School Director, Papali’i Laulii Alofa said he is proud of the distinction that Manumalo has achieved, adding that he credits the past and present board members and everyone involved — including the administration, teachers, students and especially supportive parents — for helping to get the school where it is today.
 
He also thanked the visiting WASC team for recognizing the school’s efforts and hard work in ensuring that Manumalo can and will continue to offer quality education for the young people of American Samoa.



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