Ka ‘Umeke Ka‘eo, a K-12 Hawaiian language immersion and culture public charter school in Keaukaha, has earned accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) — a six-year status with a mid-cycle three-year visit. It is the first time that the school applied for the accreditation.
“It is reaffirming when an organization such as WASC gives you the green light, even while we are still working diligently to get appropriate assessments for students attending Hawaiian immersion schools,” said Huihui Kanahele-Mossman Po‘okumu, Ka ‘Umeke administrator.
The accreditation process begins with schools participating in a self-study training provided by WASC prior to the full self-study visit. The self-study culminates in the refinement of a three-to- five-year school-wide action plan.
Po‘okumu said Ka ‘Umeke’s action plan includes several big goals: the development of a student learning data collection system; creation of appropriate assessments that truly measure student learning; and the ongoing development of Hawaiian language focused on researching and reviving Hawaiian ancestral scientific terms.
“And, of course, we plan on securing facilities not only for Ka ‘Umeke but to create a shared space called Lononuiakea with other educational partners,” Po‘okumu added.
“We are very grateful for the support that the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and Kamehameha Schools gave us during the accreditation process,” said Olani Lilly, executive director of Kama‘aha Education Initiative, the nonprofit organization that supports Ka ‘Umeke. “The accreditation is a testament to their support, as well as to Ka ‘Umeke’s hard working students, teachers and families.”
WASC is one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States and extends its services to more than 4,500 public, independent, church-related and proprietary pre-K–12 and adult schools. WASC works with 16 associations in joint accreditation processes and collaborates with other educational organizations. The accreditation process fosters excellence in elementary, secondary and adult education by encouraging school improvement. WASC accreditation recognizes schools that meet an acceptable level of quality, in accordance with established, research-based WASC criteria. In addition to the continuous cycle of improvement fostered by the accreditation cycle, accreditation is important because many colleges and universities and military recruiters only accept students who have attended accredited institutions. Ka ‘Umeke Ka‘eo is a fully WASC-accredited K-12 Hawaiian language immersion and culture public charter school located in Keaukaha on the island of Hawaii. It uses the Papaku Makawalu methodology, combining modern science teaching with ancestral stories and the Hawaiian method of organizing knowledge. A blend of STEAM and Hawaiian spirituality, this holistic learning model allows students to adapt an indigenous worldview to understand the scientific process.