Edward Little High School celebrates new accreditation status

Apr. 17—AUBURN — For years, Edward Little High School's accreditation has been considered "probationary" due to certain standards the school did not meet, largely relating to issues with the old school building. But Principal Scott Annear recently announced to staff that the classification was dropped.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Public Schools, the agency that accredits the school, notified Annear in a letter last week that the school's "probationary" status had been lifted.

"The hard work and effort to get to this point is a result of all of your hard work and effort and literally the generations before us," he wrote in a memo to staff last week.

The high school was initially accredited in 1931, according to NEASC's website. The accrediting agency did not respond to an inquiry about what year the school was placed on probation.

Annear said longtime staff and retired staff he has talked with believe it goes back to at least the early 1980s. Despite misunderstandings, the school has always been accredited.

The school's accreditation was originally placed on probation because some of its curriculum and instruction did not fully meet NEASC's standards, along with issues with the old high school, Annear said. As staff worked to address all of the concerns with the curriculum and instruction, physical limitations in the old high school prevented that probationary status from being lifted.

"To always be told they were on probation for something staff couldn't control was upsetting," he said.

Many of the issues with the old high school were primarily in the science department, with only one classroom considered a lab by the accrediting agency, Annear said. Teachers would have to sign up to use the lab and schedule around each other. Students were doing dissections in classrooms, which did not provide the best support for those lessons.

The accrediting agency also had issues with the spacing of items inside the lab, its ventilation, along with other aspects, Annear said.

Annear kept NEASC up to date on the construction of the new building and finally submitted the building's temporary occupancy permit last fall, finally putting to bed the issues with the old high school and allowing the school to be fully accredited, he said.

"So, I think there's a lot of pride that has come through and that is the building," he said. "The building has tipped the scales for us to no longer be probationary."

The school has plans to continue growing educational opportunities, particularly through its partnership with Lewiston Regional Technical Center as a satellite campus, he said. Four LRTC classes at the school started this school year, another three or four will be added next school year and then several more are planned to be added the year after that.

Curriculum and instruction are always being reviewed, not just during the accreditation cycle, ensuring that students are getting a good education, he said.

Staff, who had started to feel disheartened over the issue for the past few years, welcomed the news of the lifted probationary status, Annear said. Staff feel good to have finally accomplished that last task and feel like an anchor has fallen off them, he said.

"The building has paid off and allowed people to feel really full of pride," he said. "It was an amazing shot in the arm, it was really uplifting."

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