Rowan-Salisbury School System earns reaccreditation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 16, 2015

By Jeanie Groh

jeanie.groh@salisburypost.com

The Rowan-Salisbury School System will be fully accredited for another five-year term, according to AdvancEd accreditation team leader Dr. Darrell Barringer.

The accreditation team arrived Sunday evening, conducted 33 hours of observations in 99 classroom observations and interviewed 256 parents, teachers, administrators and community members.

Barringer provided feedback and direction in a “helicopter view” presentation of the team’s findings in a called meeting of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education Wednesday afternoon.

The district’s Index of Education Quality Score was 280.49, less than three points lower than the average school in AdvancEd’s network. The score is based on three areas: teaching and learning, leadership capacity and resource utilization.

“That’s a fabulous score,” Barringer said. “Think about where you were two years ago and where you are today.”

“This is a system in change – powerful change,” he said. “To have this score this early in this change process is good.”

Barringer added that there hasn’t been enough time for new strategies to be implemented and measured yet.

The district’s strength is by far leadership capacity. Their individual score in that category is 330.21. The AdvancEd average is 296.08.

This category reflects on the district’s superintendent, school board, district administrators and principals.

“That is your strength right now,” Barringer said.

The district’s individual teaching and learning score was 255.36, compared to a 274.14 average score.

“This reflects change,” Barringer said, adding that the district’s literacy framework and digital conversion have been in place for less than an entire year and that testing hasn’t been done since these strategies were implemented.

Resource utilization refers to resources such as budgets, teachers and instructional support. Rowan-Salisbury’s score was 271. The AdvancEd average is 286.32.

The highest possible score for any of these categories is 400. As the district makes improvements in each of these areas, they will be able to submit evidences of those changes to increase their scores.

“We’re very excited about the progress of the school district,” said Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody. “We’ve spent a lot of time in the last year working on leadership development and I believe that showed up in our final score.”

“I’m very proud of the work of our teachers as they’ve stayed focused to our strategic plan through this change,” she added.

“It’s a positive reflection of the school system,” said school board Chairman Josh Wagner, adding that while the district still has lots of room for improvement, he feels that they’re headed in the right direction.

 

Challenges

The AdvancEd team identified several challenges outside of the district’s control, including increasing poverty; declining resources, such as funding from the state and county and the uncertainties of transformation and change.

“Change is going to be characteristic of this district for a long time,” Barringer said, adding that change is the only way for the district to get better.

With change, however, there are some uncertainties, he added.

 

Strengths

“The Rowan-Salisbury School System has a deep commitment to quality instruction,” Barringer said during his presentation, adding that the focus on the strategic plan and professional development opportunities make that a possibility.

“It (the strategic plan) really is your roadmap,” he said.

The district’s community partnerships are impressive, Barringer added.

Rowan-Salisbury performed above average in all seven learning environments the reaccreditation committee looks at.

The district’s digital learning environment performed especially well, earning the highest score Barringer has seen in two and a half years.

 

Improvement priorities

Improvement priorities are the things that the school system must address within the next two years.

Barringer encouraged the school system to evaluate its system-wide collaborative learning practices to ensure verifiable improvements in student learning.

“There are a lot of collaborative things going on in individual schools,” Barringer said, but added that it isn’t system-wide.

He also said the district needs to develop a formal program in which each student has an official adult “champion,” or advocate.

The school system will also have to prove that it has evaluated its current system-wide practices and ensure that they are in line with the district’s purpose and direction, including grading policies, programs for unique learners, retention of high quality staff and student support services.

 

Opportunities for improvement

Opportunities for improvement are simply suggestions for improvement, and don’t require any action or proof of action.

The AdvancED team said the district should “develop further strategies to engage families in the support of their children’s learning.”

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