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  • Pima Vocational High School earns reaccreditation

    May 19, 2015 | Read More News
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    PVHS graduationPima Vocational High School, a public charter high school for out-of-school youth ages 16 through 21, has been reaccredited for another five years following a two-day site visit by AdvancED.

    Accreditation is a voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by American universities and secondary schools and designed primarily to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards. AdvancED was created through a 2006 merger of the PreK-12 divisions of the North Central Association and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

    Accreditors gave the school an overall score of 374.36 from a range of 100 to 400. The average overall score for other AdvancEd accredited schools was 282.79. Each member of the three-person site visitation team spent a minimum of 20 minutes observing each class and interviewed board members, teachers, administrators, support staff, parents and students.

    Team members noted that since PVHS students make a conscious choice to attend the school after having failed in many other traditional settings, they are more motivated to succeed. That, coupled with the strong support offered by faculty and staff, impressed the accreditors.

    “The level of support provided by teachers in classrooms (and by all faculty and staff outside of classrooms) is remarkable,” they wrote. “Students were adamant in alerting the team to the fact that until they came to this school, they were generally left to their own devices to cope with difficulties in the best way they could without a support system.”

    PVHS is a program of the Pima County Community Services, Employment and Training Department. The students, who must meet all of the Arizona Essential Skills requirements to graduate, take courses on resume writing and career skills and can earn paid job placements and internships. In addition, students meet weekly with an advisor and attend classes with 15 or fewer students. PVHS offers classes at two campuses: 97 E. Congress St., Suite 30, downtown; and at 5025 W. Ina Road in northwest Tucson.

    Michele Heimpel, the school’s director, was glad the accreditation team understood that PVHS caters to an at-risk population and, therefore, doesn’t fit the mold of most schools.

    “We don’t fit the box. That is what makes us different. The students are welcomed every day. They feel this is their home. They feel safe here.”

    Dylan Sitlava, a 19-year-old student who wants to compose and make a career in music, agreed. PVHS is his sixth high school, “but this is the school where I’m going to stay. They really care about you.”

    He was drawn to PVHS by his sister, who managed to graduate despite working and having a child while in school. “She’s my inspiration,” said Sitlava. “If she can do it, so can I.”