Last month, the Accrediting Commission for Schools (ACS) arm of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges named Groves the agency's next president, serving part-time as the president-elect until he formally takes over the top executive position for ACS on June 30. The commission oversees more than 5,000 public, private, independent and church-affiliated schools in California and Hawaii as well as several other countries, including China, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam and Israel.
"Dr. Groves is uniquely qualified to lead the organization," ACS commission chair Stephen Cathers said in a statement. "His record of educational leadership is outstanding and he has extensive accreditation experience."
Before taking the new job, Groves served as one of the 32 commissioners who carefully observe education programs in schools spanning from kindergarten through 12th grade and ultimately decide whether they meet requirements for accreditation — a critical hurdle for schools seeking to allow students to transfer credits to California's highly regarded university systems.
Groves said the visits are hardly an overseas vacation, describing them as three-and-a-half-day-long rigorous examinations of school programs, classroom activities and interviews with everyone from parents to board members.
"We go into the classrooms and see what's been taught and how well," Groves said. "We come out with a report that's probably 30 to 50 pages at the end, so we do a lot of work."
While accrediting agencies tend to operate behind the scenes without too much controversy, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges spent years in the spotlight after the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges carefully weighed whether to revoke the City College of San Francisco's accreditation. After a lengthy dispute, the commission ultimately agreed to renew the school's accreditation for a full seven-year term.
Groves said the commission strives to avoid being antagonistic and work with schools to achieve or preserve accreditation, but it has an obligation to hold a high standard and prepare students exiting high school for the University of California and the California State University systems.
"We do try to work with schools, but there are times when they lose their accreditation, or new schools try to come on and don't reach accreditation (standards)," he said.
Although his intent was to retire, Groves said he couldn't pass up an opportunity to make a "big difference" for kids in the world of education. By taking the top executive position and advisory role to the commission, Groves said he has the opportunity to have an influence on students throughout a big part of the globe. It also helps that the Western Association of Schools and Colleges is considered one of the top-notch accrediting agencies in the world, he said.
"It's the gold standard for accreditation," he said. "If you're accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, you're doing a good job."
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