Accreditation Visit, March 2019

Posted in Alumni News
1st Grade

First Grader Captures Sweetness of School for Visiting Accreditation Team

Mrs. McClurg’s first-graders earned school-wide fame this winter because, in personal petitions during morning prayer, they asked for snow. Record snowfall came, and all Assumption Catholic School (ACS) students received an unexpected week off. Principal Dan Anderson observed, “These six-year-olds seem to have a direct line to God.”

So when David Burroughs, member of the recent accreditation team, wanted to find out what makes ACS work for students, he visited the faithful in Paige C. McClurg’s first-grade classroom.

Don’t Change a Thing, Except for the Name

Burroughs asked, “Is there anything you’d change about the school?” A first-grade girl raised her hand and said, “I wouldn’t change anything about the school.” She continued thoughtfully, “Except for the name. I would name it after my dog and call it Saint Ellie Catholic School.”

Later, recounting this exchange to a parent panel, Burroughs smiled, “I liked that she kept ‘Saint’ in the school name—that’s Catholic.”

Reviewers Help School See Sweet Spots

Every six years every Catholic school in the western region of the U.S. goes through a rigorous process to earn accreditation.

  • At ACS, preparation started 18 months ago.
  • Faculty and staff built a 110-page report ( to identify three areas for student learning improvement.
  • The leadership team—Dan Anderson, Betsy Gottschalk, Paige C. McClurg, and Kerry Thomas—put in many professional and personal hours to make the three-day accreditation visit meaningful.

Beyond metrics, the point of Catholic school accreditation is to find the sweet spots, to understand how Catholic schools are places where students find their potentials, faiths, and callings. In the recent weekly Principal’s Newsletter (, Dan Anderson summed up best the results and tone of the recent review completed by the Western Catholic Educational Association.


From the Principal: A Positive Visit

The school had a wonderfully positive three-day visit with the accreditation team last week. Their Report of Findings is a summary of how we are rated in all areas from Catholic Identity to School’s Purpose and Organization for learning. We’re pleased to report that we achieved effective or highly effective in all 12 areas of the report. The areas in which we rated highly effective include: Catholic Identity, Mission and Philosophy statements, measuring student achievement of the Schoolwide Learning Expectations, modeling Catholic values, integrating technology into teaching and learning, and using community resources and parents to support students. We also received highly effective ratings in using surveys to collect and analyze data, and notable improvement in the area of school communications. 

Much of the report had very positive things to say about our school, but the following summary statement is the best reflection of the overall tone: 

The Visiting Committee has enjoyed our time at Assumption Catholic School and has felt welcomed by everyone we have encountered, especially the parents, faculty, staff, students and administration. Assumption Catholic School is led by a dedicated, inspiring Catholic leader who has the full support of all of the shareholders at the school. He works closely with his pastor who is very supportive of Catholic education. The Visiting Committee observed a professional staff whose efforts, dedication, and hard work have produced a strong Catholic school with a bright future. We were very impressed by the passionate parents, who clearly love their school and appreciate the high-quality Catholic education their children receive. The students clearly reflect the beauty of the Gospel message they learn at ACS. The Visiting Committee has witnessed a loving, nurturing and Christ-centered school. ACS is a school where Catholic Identity permeates every corner of the classroom and across all curriculum areas. The community of Bellingham is blessed to have this ministry in their midst that helps develop disciples of Christ who will go forth and make a lasting difference in the world. 


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