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Grissom column: Quality assurance team visits Rowan this week

By Dr. Judy Grissom
For the Salisbury Post
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, also known as SACS, is the agency that accredits schools throughout the southern United States. In April 2006, several groups ó the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, and the National Study of School Evaluation ó came together to form one strong unified organization dedicated to education quality.
That unified organization, known as AdvancED, is the world’s largest education community, representing over 23,000 public and private schools, 6,000 school districts, 18,000 volunteers, 162 staff members in 30 states and 65 countries and serving nearly 15 million students.
On April 13-16, a Quality Assurance Team from AdvancED, made up of educators from across the southeast, will visit the Rowan-Salisbury School System to conduct our first district accreditation visit. The purpose of the visit is to:
– Evaluate whether the system has met accreditation standards.
– Review the district’s framework for continuous improvement and its impact on student performance and overall system effectiveness.
– Examine the district’s system for monitoring and maintaining quality assurance.
– Identify strengths in the district’s programs and processes that are deserving of commendations.
– Provide substantive, focused, and powerful recommendations to strengthen the district’s internal systems.
– Deliver a brief exit report to district officials and the community.
– Prepare a written report that reflects the team’s professional observations and their recommendation for accreditation.
When this happens, the Rowan-Salisbury School System will be accredited for the next five years.
The Quality Assurance Team will interview principals, central office administrators, school board members, parents, support staff members, business leaders and community members. They will review documents and collect data related to the work of the school system. In addition to the district-level review, the team will visit several schools. During the school visits, they will tour classrooms, interview School Improvement Team members, teachers, students, administrators, parents and community stakeholders.
Committees composed of Rowan-Salisbury School System employees, community members and parents have been working closely over the last few months completing a self-assessment for the school system and preparing a Standards Assessment Report. The report is based on AdvancED standards, which serve as the foundation of the accreditation process. In order to earn and maintain accreditation, school districts must document that each of the AdvancED standards has been met. The seven standards are:
Standard 1:Vision and Purpose. The system establishes and communicates a shared purpose and direction for improving the performance of students and the effectiveness of the system.
Standard 2: Governance and Leadership. The system provides governance and leadership that promotes student performance and system effectiveness.
Standard 3: Teaching and Learning. The system provides research-based curriculum and instructional methods that facilitate achievement for all students.
Standard 4: Documenting and Using Results. The system enacts a comprehensive assessment system that monitors and documents performance and uses these results to improve student performance and school effectiveness.
Standard 5: Resources and Support Systems. The system has the resources and services necessary to support its vision and purpose and to ensure achievement for all students.
Standard 6: Stakeholder Communication and Relationships. The system fosters effective communications and relationships with and among its stakeholders.
Standard 7: Commitment to Continuous Improvement. The system establishes, implements, and monitors a continuous process of improvement that focuses on student performance.
School system officials will use recommendations from the Quality Assurance Review as a new district plan is developed. School board members will meet in early summer to evaluate their vision, mission and core beliefs. The District Improvement Team will then begin the process of analyzing data from the SACS report, as well as results of the parent surveys, parent focus meetings, test data and teacher working conditions surveys to create a focus for the next three years.
– – –
Dr. Judy Grissom is superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

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