AdvancED Recommends Douglas County School System for Reaccreditation
The Douglas County School System (DCSS) was recommended for National District Reaccreditation through AdvancED, an internationally recognized accrediting board that evaluates school systems across the U.S. and 70 other nations. The announcement was made at a special called Board of Education meeting on January 25, 2017. The school system undergoes accreditation every five years and was last awarded District Accreditation in March, 2012.
The overall score for DCSS on AdvancEd’s evaluation tool was 307.93, well above the average score of 278.94 for all school systems which were evaluated by AdvanED during the prior year. “We rarely see a score in the 300’s,” said Dr. Bill Rivenbark, team leader and presenter. “Your system should be very proud of this evaluation.”
A team of eight AdvancED professionals made a Quality Assurance Team Visit to the school system January 22-25. The team spent January 23 at the Central Office where they heard an overview presentation from Superintendent Dr. Gordon Pritz as well as presentations from other school system personnel on the five evaluation standards: Purpose and Direction; Governance and Leadership; Teaching and Assessing for Learning; Resources and Support Systems; and Using Results for Continuous Improvement. Also on January 23, the team interviewed Dr. Pritz, members of the Board of Education, a panel of 26 parents, business and community leaders, as well as principals from all schools. On January 24, team members from AdvancED spent a half day at the following schools where they observed classes and school procedures, met with administrators, and talked with students and staff: Beulah, Burnett, Holly Springs, and Winston Elementary Schools; Chapel Hill and Stewart Middle Schools; and Alexander and Douglas County High Schools. In all, the AdvancEd team interviewed 271 school system stakeholders, including 102 students, and visited 103 classrooms.
“We are pleased with the results of the AdvancEd review and appreciate the hard work of their team,” said Dr. Pritz. “The preliminary report from this outside agency affirms the success that our students, staff, teachers, and administrators have experienced over the last few years. We also appreciate the work of our school and system personnel who diligently prepared for the review over the last several months. We always learn a lot about ourselves through this process, and we were affirmed on a lot of what we are already doing.”
Among the findings in the three domains were:
Teaching and Learning Impact
· Douglas County School System students are polite, positive and actively engaged in the teaching and learning process.
· The system’s curriculum and classroom learning experiences for students prepare students for success at the next level. Innovative initiatives such as the high school magnet programs, the dual language immersion program, the College and Career Institute and the Virtual Academy also contribute greatly to the success of Douglas County students.
· Douglas County classrooms are well managed with clear behavioral expectations and staffed with teachers who are caring, dedicated and promote a positive, nurturing learning environment for all students.
· The system uses many effective communication strategies to keep parents informed of student academic progress.
· The Superintendent and Board of Education demonstrate strong leadership through a spirit of mutual trust and commitment to performance excellence.
· The system’s culture of high expectations for students and staff is based on shared values and beliefs, focused on student learning and a commitment to student success and supported by all stakeholder groups.
· School campuses in Douglas County provide a safe environment for students and staff and are visually appealing and well-maintained.
· The system has developed an effective protocol to recruit, develop and retain highly qualified instructional staff and leadership.
AdvancED was created through a 2006 merger of several accreditation boards including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of Pre-K – 12 schools and school systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential. The organization serves over 32,000 schools and school systems across the U.S. and 70 other nations.