Thursday, February 7, 2013

Accreditation review on the horizon

As we enter the month of February we do so with great excitement about the current work of our school system and the challenges that await us.  In the past few weeks, we have seen Oconee County High School’s wrestling team take third place at the state meet, watched as North Oconee High School’s girls basketball team continues its stellar season, cheered for our champion middle school girls and boys basketball programs, celebrated the dominance of our swimming teams, and welcomed the state school superintendent to Oconee County Middle School to take part in our outstanding instructional day – not a bad way to start 2013. 

So, what next?  From February 24th through the 27th, Oconee County Schools will welcome AdvancedED and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) for our five-year district accreditation review.  In November 2007, OCS was one of the first school districts in the state to undergo the district accreditation process.  That process led to the awarding of accreditation by SACS and the implementation of several recommendations such as the integration of additional technology for our students. 

Why is accreditation important? 

Simply put, it is the stamp of assurance for the academic excellence of Oconee County Schools.  Accreditation ensures a standard of quality among credits, courses and grade level placements between schools and universities around the world.  It validates the equivalency of diplomas and denotes that OCS is part of a worldwide network of quality institutions focused on student performance.

What are the benefits of district accreditation? 

District accreditation is not a stand-alone process; rather it supports system-wide continuous improvement.  Specifically, district accreditation:

·         Enhances a common language of school improvement;
·         Ensures collaboration in planning for improvement;
·         Supports a system-wide approach to achieving results;
·         Provides the learning community with validation and recognition for improvement efforts.

How does a district achieve accreditation? 

District accreditation requires commitment from the system’s leadership and school board.  Our school system must have in place a quality continuous improvement planning process focused on advancing student learning.  In addition, we must demonstrate a commitment to achieving and maintaining the following:

·         Demonstration of compliance with SACS CASI Accreditation Standards for Quality School Systems;
·         Identification and illustration of the system’s framework for continuous improvement;
·         Evidence showcased of methods being employed to monitor and maintain quality assurance.

What are the five AdvancedED Standards for Quality?

·         Standard 1: Purpose and Direction
·         Standard 2: Governance and Leadership
·         Standard 3: Teaching and Assessing for Learning
·         Standard 4: Resources and Support Systems
·         Standard 5: Using Results for Continuous Improvement

These standards will make up the framework for our system’s review. Each standard is a category of focus for our system, our schools, and the review team. In addition, our school and system improvement plans have been aligned to focus in these five areas. 

The accreditation process is an exciting time for our learning community. We look forward to the review team and the professional analysis that will be provided to our outstanding system. 

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