Focus on Learning

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A group of people truly committed to a common vision is an awesome force.
Peter M. Senge , The Art and Practice of the Learning

The Accrediting Commission for Schools (ACS) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) works with 13 affiliate organizations. The basic Focus on Learning process is augmented to accommodate the particular emphasis of schools affiliated with each of these organizations. The Accrediting Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges has a useful website. You'll find downloadable copies of current process manuals, training materials , forms, procedures, templates, and samples.

Note that in NO WAY do these materials supersede the excellent materials available from WASC. I've tried NOT to duplicate their work but to supplement it with materials that have been developed by other schools on their way to accreditation (used with permission), web resources that expand on ideas, and pieces which I have developed in support of the process

This long-term school improvement process centers on two critical questions:
  • Who are our students and how well are they performing in meeting the school's expectations?
  • Where there is room for improvement, what can individuals at the school do or learn or change to improve learning for each and every student?


This on-going process can be looked at as a six-year cycle. Think about what it would mean to a school if Focus on Learning with it's action plan were truly treated as an ongoing process within the life of the school rather than an event which occurred every so often. More schools see the value of ensuring they continue to place emphasis on implementing and managing an agreed to plan directed at improving student learning.


Focus on Learning is a three-part process:
  • Self-Study  During the period prior to the visit, the school develops a self-study (initially about 18-24 months; ongoing after the initial FOL visit. The school works in committees to examine in additional detail information about its students and their performance. This is in preparation for an on-site visit by fellow educators. The self-study asks schools to answer these questions
    • What do we want students to know and be able to do?
    • What are students learning and where are the gaps?
    • What are we going to do differently to ensure students succeed?
    • How will we know we're successful in our efforts?
  • The Visit Field colleagues work with the school to more deeply understand issues related directly to improving students' learning.

  • Ongoing Focus on Learning or, more generally, long-term school improvement as the Action Plan is implemented. The real work! What can we do to add value to each and every student's learning experience? 


WASC provides training for schools in the process of developing their self-study and preparing to host a visit. If you've not received information, check the WASC website for training dates and sign-up forms. Training is also provided for field colleagues who serve on visiting committees.

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Copyright 1998-2013 Louise Wright Robertson

Site last modified & updated December 09, 2013