COVINGTON — Although the Newton County School System isn’t due for an accreditation visit until March 2014, officials already are preparing for it.
NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews, along with several other central office administrators, recently attended a fall conference for AdvanceED, a parent organization of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and other accrediting agencies.
Mathews recently reported in his End-of-Month Notes for November, which is emailed to staff and other educational stakeholders, that NCSS intends to seek district-level accreditation under a new process recently established by AdvancED. It would still be a district-level accreditation like NCSS has now, but the new one will require each of the NCSS schools to parallel the district-level preparation for accreditation, he said.
Mathews reported that Samantha Fuhrey, deputy superintendent of Curriculum at Instruction at NCSS, will be the accreditation leader for the system and will be assisted by Lee Peck, executive director for School Improvement. Mathews said that Dr. Shelia Thomas, director of Federal Programs for NCSS, also will coordinate the March 2014 visit.
The school system and the schools must produce several pieces of information that the visiting accreditation team will review and look to for evidence: executive summary, self assessment, assurances, student performance, improvement plan and stakeholder feedback.
Standards for each system and school include purpose and direction, governance and leadership, teaching and assessing for learning, resources and support systems, and using results for continuous improvement.
“There are a number of indicators per each of the five standards for both the system-level and school-level reports,” Mathews said. “To assist in addressing these standards and indicators, the district has provided each principal with a school level workbook for AdvancED accreditation. There is also a district level workbook for AdvancED accreditation which will guide preparation for the March 2014 visit.”
In January, a representative from AdvancED will speak to principals and central office administrators about the overview of the accreditation process.
When the accreditation team visits NCSS, they will “extensively observe classroom instruction,” Mathews said.
“I believe that will be to our advantage, given the extensive professional learning that has transpired,” he said.
In January, Mathews said teachers will be introduced to how AdvancED focuses on what students are doing in the classroom.
NCSS last was accredited as a district through AdvancED in October 2008 and two years later submitted a progress report to be granted continuation. In August 2008, the accreditation team visited the system for three days; the team was made up of administrators, superintendents and other grade-level and post-secondary educators from Georgia and surrounding states.