Accreditation team evaluates Archer


Photo credit: Lola Lamberg

An accreditor delivers part of the final report to Archer’s staff and faculty in the Dining Hall on Feb. 6. “[Archer] gained validation for the good work [from the report,” Upper School Math Department Chair Chris Luzniak said.

It took dozens of hours, 44 staff members and 71 faculty members to compile the 150 page self-assessment that Archer wrote to preface the accreditation process. Two months later, from Feb. 4 to Feb. 6, department chairs, division heads, teachers and administrators from independent schools all over California arrived at Archer.

A team from the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and one team member from Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) assessed Archer to ensure applicable quality standards were met. An accreditation team reviews a school every seven years unless the school is in violation of its standards, in which case the school enters a probational warning period.

Before the accreditors arrived, community members spent a year-and-a-half creating the self-study. The accreditors then reviewed the self-study before they arrived to understand the school environment and get a “feel for the school,” Jill Duoto, an accreditor and founder of High Bluff Academy, said.

“When we come here we just try to validate what is in the report. We meet with parents, we meet with teachers and we visit classrooms,” Duoto said. “Then based on everything, do we just say ‘Seven more years — these guys are doing great; we don’t have any concerns’ and a team comes back seven years from now? Or it could be ‘Yes, seven years but maybe in the middle of the three-and-a-half-year point a one-day visit.’ The worst case is we remove the school’s accreditation.”

After a two-day evaluation period, the accreditation team writes and presents a report to the staff and faculty on how the accreditors believe the school does or does not meet applicable standards, as well as how closely the school follows its mission statement. Duoto said that she, along with fellow accreditors, were overall “so impressed, mostly with the students.”

“My section of the report was all about the schools’ mission and vision, and we all felt like every classroom we went into, every student we talk to, you see the mission embodied,” Duoto said. “I have a lot of ideas to take back to my old school.”

Upper School Director Gretchen Warner felt that the accreditors were “exceptional” and that the final report “authentically” represented Archer.

“[The accreditors] really spent a lot of thoughtful time reading our self-study, asking really good questions to get us thinking and reflecting,” Warner said. “They identified what I think some of our best strengths are. They also concurred on where we see ourselves growing in the next seven years. So I’m really, really proud of Archer and everyone: students, parents, faculty, staff.” 

Freshman Ava Weintraub noticed the presence of the accreditors as they sat in on classes. Weintraub said she was not “concerned” about the accreditors’ standards being met.

“Archer is such a prestigious school,” Weintraub said. “I knew that everything would be up-to-par and that the accreditors would just be amazed at how great the school portrays itself and what our message is.”

Honor Education Council Senior Chair Samantha Raucher was one of the first Archer students to welcome the accreditation team onto campus. Raucher noted how it was “important” that the accreditors were not solely evaluating a classroom environment, but the campus as a whole.

“It was important for the accreditors to speak to student leaders so that they could not only get a sense of what Archer is like in the classroom but also more of a sense of the community,” Raucher said. “So, what the students really love about the school and what values the student-leaders hold…gave them a more well-rounded picture of Archer.”

Another accreditation team will review and assess the school in the year 2026. As an accreditor, it was Duoto’s first-time assessing a single-sex school environment.

“I had never visited an all-girls school in my life and I had different preconceptions so it was really neat to see and it made me envious,” Duoto said. “I wish I had gone to an all-girls school.”