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Making the Grade

Family Matters - Winter 2012

Education and Creative Arts Program fully accredited

On Feb. 17, patients at 
MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital will mark their 100th day of school. This traditional February celebration around the nation is extra special this year, because it’s the 100th day of the hospital’s newly accredited private school.

The Pediatric Education and Creative Arts Program spent nearly two years completing the approval process as required by the educational organization AdvancED, which is the world’s largest education community and focuses on accreditation and school improvement.

Although the Children’s Cancer Hospital (CCH) has offered school services for many years, having the school accredited provides patients with many additional benefits.

School offers flexibility

“Our main advantage of being an independent school is that we can be more flexible with attendance and treatment plans, while still ensuring the patients receive an appropriate curriculum to stay on their grade level,” says Shanicca Joshua, manager of the Pediatric Education and Creative Arts Program.

As an accredited school, master's-level certified teachers provide an approved curriculum to students and issue report cards and progress reports, and conduct parent conferences like other community schools. Patients are able to move up in grade level while attending the in-hospital school, and they can even earn their diploma.

Patients also earn course credits that are transferrable to their community school. This allows a better transition for patients as they return home after treatment and enter into a more normal school routine.

Just like other schools, the CCH school provides education in the core curriculum areas as well as electives such as art, music, theater and writing. The entire curriculum is online, which allows patients to access homework, textbooks and other educational resources via their computer, regardless of whether at the hospital or at home.

School teachers, including a teacher for English as a Second Language classes, are on site to assist patients with their school work during the day.

Programming receives commendations

As part of the evaluation and accreditation process, the Pediatric Education and Creative Arts Program received seven commendations for existing school programming. Commendations and site visit committee reviews resulted in the top ranking in all seven accreditation areas.

“The center’s learning experiences are individualized for each student in a way that supports achievement of expectations. These experiences are aligned with the center’s purpose and provide opportunities for the development of learning skills, thinking skills and life skills, including social and emotional,” cited the committee’s report.

As patients complete their curriculum or finish treatment, school re-entry coordinators from the hospital work with the student’s family and home school to help ease their transition back to the community.

“The school engages families in meaningful ways in their children’s education. The center’s programs are designed and implemented to regularly inform families and their community school about their child’s learning process and progress. The Family Advisory Council provides opportunities for parents to give recommendations and feedback to the staff at monthly meetings.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center