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Advanced education program would be good for our county

Colleton County Board of Education members were informed during their September 18 meeting that an advanced educational program being considered for adoption here would be boon for educational progress here.

“AdvanceEd is like a seal of approval,” said Dr. Terry Pruitt, deputy superintendant of Spartanburg County School District 7 and a certified evaluator with the AdvanceEd Program. “It is a great enhancement for economic development and to recruit industry for the county.”

Pruitt told board members that the first assessment team dealing with the program’s proposed implementation was to meet today (September 26). In a brief overview of the process, Pruitt said the team would take a look at the county government, and a “Visions and Promise Team” would then be appointed for each school within the county, and a team would also be assigned to the school district.

The teams would rate each school concerning five separate standards, and reach school would get a report on the results of the evaluation. A cumulative report would also be sent to the school district. The teams would each consist of eight members, four from within the state and four from out of state.

During the tours of the chosen schools, team members would conduct observation within classrooms (including student interaction with the school), and also interview people within the school’s hallways. When the tour has been concluded, the person chosen as the team’s chairman would then “would or would not recommend accreditation,” Pruitt said. “Every school district will require some action,” he added. “But these are usually within reason, and are something that you can accomplish.”

The AdvancED Process is an overview of what the program is about. It is an international protocol for school districts committed to systemic, systematic, and sustainable improvement. The process builds capacity to increase student learning and organizational effectiveness and stimulates, supports, and ensures that all elements of the district work in harmony in pursuit of a shared vision.

Cornerstones of accreditation are high standards; quality school systems; quality schools; continuous improvement; systems approach; quality assurance; internal assessment; and external review.

Expectations of the program are that it meets advanced standards for quality systems; identifies and guides the implementation of a systemic and continuous improvement process; monitors its schools and departments through a quality assurance process; prepares and hosts an External Review Team (ERT) every five years; and responds to findings from the ERT Team.

State requirement-related input, such as focus and common language, which created a common language of improvement across the district; continuity and collaboration towards shared vision, which keeps all involved on the same page; external reviews and support, including feedback from peers; more cost effectiveness when dealing with issues such as districts verses schools and benefits to students; the fact that students are the ultimate beneficiaries of district accreditation because they benefit from the enhanced focus on student performance and from greater articulation and coordination as they move from one level to another within the district; and the AdvancED seal provides an “educational currency” for students’ academic credits.

Stakeholders and their roles, which includes the school board, the superintendant, district administrators; school administrators; principals of schools both visited and non-visited; teacers; parents; and community members. (Note: With this plan, 250 stakeholders will assist with the self-study.)

Stakeholder involvement in the program, which includes the assisting in self-study and assessment; assisting with the providing of information for the Accreditation Comprehensive Report (ACR); the possible interviewing if the ERT; and the interviewing of all board members.

The ERT process, step by step, which includes hosting an ERT review; holding a board meeting to hear results and accreditation recommendations; responding to all required actions by a designated deadline; the completion of annual status reports; and the undergoing of an ERT review every five years.

The district’s provision of evidence that the program is meeting the standard for quality systems, which includes areas such as purpose and direction; government leadership; teaching and assessing for learning; resources and support systems; and using results for continuous improvement.

Definition of Indicators Rubric, including the fact that Level 1 requires action; level 2 may or may not require action, pending and ERT decision; Level 3 may or may not require action, pending an ERT decision; and Level 4 requires a powerful practice(commendation).

Standard I indicators of the fulfillment of this standard are that the system ensures that each school engages in a systematic, inclusive, and comprehensive process to review, revise, and communicate a school purpose for student success; the school leadership and staff at all levels of the system commit to a culture that is based on shared values and beliefs about teaching and learning, and supports the challenging, equitable educational programs and learning experiences for all students that include achievement of learning, thinking, and life skills; and leadership at all levels of the system to implement a continuous improvement process that provides clear direction for improving conditions that support learning.

Standard I focus questions, which include: what is the process for establishing and building understanding of and commitment to the vision statement among the school system and its shareholders; what is the systems process for maintaining and using information that describes the school system, its programs, services, and schools, along with their performance; how does leadership ensure that the system’s vision, purpose, and goals guide the work of the school system and its schools; and what process is used to ensure that the vision and purpose of this school system remain current and aligned with the system’s expectations in support of student learning and the effectiveness of the school/system and its schools?

Pruitt concluded be telling board members that the benefits from the program far exceed the cost, again noting that the program is an international one. After Pruitt’s presentation, board members indicated that they would take the implementation of the program into consideration, but took no action.

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