Departments to start reviewing operations


By Hana Al-Henaid

A cross-campus initiative for departmental evaluation called Renew and Review has been implemented this year according to Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts. Renew and Review, also referred to as Departmental Review, “takes the concept behind the whole-school accreditation and applies it to a department,” Director of Studies Deborah Dowling said.

For Renew and Review, departments are asked to report what they do and compare their systems to those of other schools. Once this initial evaluation process is completed, departments are asked to bring in a team of experts to evaluate the school’s efficiency, and then make concrete, specific plans for improvements, Dowling said.

Huybrechts explained the program to department chairs before the start of this school year and asked departments to volunteer to participate.

Each department will work collaboratively between campuses during the evaluation process.

“Each department does its review across the two campuses,” Dowling said. ”[For example,] the math department is starting this year, which means the middle school and upper school math departments are working on it together, creating a single report and a single plan. This helps the school to keep its program consistent and coherent.”

Twelve departments will participate over the course of about six years, with two volunteering their participation each year, Huybrechts said.

The Communications Department and the Math Department were the first to volunteer, and volunteers for the next year or two are already lined up, Dowling said.

The Math Department, chaired by Paula Evans, plans to review their curriculum, goals, and values, Evans said.

This spring, Communications Department Chair and Chronicle advisor Kathleen Neumeyer will travel to Shawnee Mission East, a high school in Kansas that “produces an outstanding newspaper,” Neumeyer said. Neumeyer also plans to bring a team of experts to the school as well to examine communications classes at the school.

Aside from departmental reviews, the administration is currently preparing for an accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the California Association of Independent Schools, which will take place next year. The accreditations occur once every six years. However, because each individual department has a small role in the larger WASC/CAIS accreditation, Renew and Review was developed to focus on evaluations within departments.

“The goal is for departments to consider how they could improve in a serious and thoughtful way,” Dowling said.