Minimum number of school days not mandatory for accreditation


POSTED: Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hawaii's public schools will not necessarily fall below minimum accrediting standards even after chopping the number of instructional days to the fewest in the nation.

As the second of 17 Furlough Fridays approaches this week, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges has confirmed that it does not set a minimum number of school days.

“;The options for delivering instruction are varied today and don't necessarily require seat time. It's not an absolute,”; said David Brown, executive director for the agency overseeing accreditation of Hawaii's public schools. “;If in fact students aren't making academic progress, that will have a bigger potential impact on whether a school will get a limited term or suspension of accreditation.”;

In addition to academic progress, evaluators look at school organization, instructional materials, teacher qualifications, safety and funding levels, Brown said.

Hawaii is furloughing teachers and closing schools under a new union contract that reduces instructional days to 163 from 180 because of steep state budget cuts.

A federal lawsuit attempting to stop education furloughs incorrectly claims that the Western Association of Schools and Colleges requires at least 175 class days.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit, Eric Seitz, was not available yesterday to explain how he arrived at the 175 figure. But he said last week he is hoping a judge will halt the furloughs following a Nov. 5 court date.

“;There isn't anybody in their right mind who can say you're going to make progress by cutting instructional days,”; Seitz said Friday at a furlough protest. “;With this 17-day situation, we're falling way behind. No other state would go that low.”;

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges is one of six regional associations that accredits public and private schools, colleges and universities in the United States. It evaluates about one-sixth of Hawaii public schools each year.

On the Net:
» Western Association of Schools and Colleges: www.acswasc.org