NCSS officially awarded district accreditation after review

COVINGTON - After a review team with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools recommended the Newton County School System be awarded district accreditation in late August, the system has announced that it has officially received the new accreditation status.

Dr. Mark Elgart, chief executive officer of the AdvacED program through SACS, made the official recommendation Oct. 8, and the school system made the announcement of the acceptance Oct. 27.

"I am honored to report that the school system has satisfactorily met the expectations and responsibilities of the SACS (Council on Accreditation and School Improvement) Guided Self-Study in pursuit of District Accreditation," Elgart wrote in a letter to NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley. "I once again commend and congratulate you, the professional staff, the Board of Education and stakeholders throughout the community, on this achievement to be awarded District Accreditation as a Quality School System."

Under district accreditation, the school system will be held to higher standards and will hold a quality assurance review once every five years to continue to receive accreditation.

"Our schools and the community have been involved in important improvement activities through the SACS accreditation process," Whatley said in a press release.

Although the school system was approved for district accreditation, the hard work isn't over yet.

"As a result of successfully completing the Quality Assurance Review, the district is now charged with the responsibility of entering the implementation phase of the process," Elgart said in his letter.

The school system must work to implement the recommendations from the review team. Those recommendations include auditing board policies to eliminate redundancy and the volume, watching the budget, reviewing major curriculum initiatives, conducting a different way to evaluate programs, implementing new documentation technology, encouraging more parental involvement, developing a system improvement plan and expanding quality assurance methods to school leadership officials, according to the 27-page report.

In two years, the school system must submit a progress report on the recommendations.

"Building on the commendations of the Review Team's report, together we will address the recommendations which will enable our school district to further its commitment to excellence for students," Whatley said in the release.

The school system also must continue to monitor accreditation requirements and strategies for improvement, the letter reads.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.