Newton Schools recommended for reaccreditation

COVINGTON – The Newton County School System received an overall positive review and recommendation for reaccreditation as the AdvanED External Review Team announced the findings of its three-day accreditation auditing process.

The AdvancEd External Review Team consisted of six members from across the country, and one from Puerto Rico, including Ray Poplus, the Louisiana director of AdvancED. Their findings were announced Wednesday afternoon at a called meeting of the Board of Education.

According to Poplus’ presentation, accreditation is an international protocol for institutions to achieve systemic, systematic and sustainable improvement. During the team’s review, it surveyed attributes such as NCSS’ impact of teaching and learning, leadership capacity and resource utilization. The team performed a total of 239 interviews during its visit, including all five Newton BOE members, 52 administrators, 126 teachers and 31 students. Sixty-two 20-minute effective learning observations were also made.

“We were told that there is a relentless stride to become better,” said Poplus.

On the overall learning environment rating, NCSS scored a 3.04 on a 1 to 4 scale. This took into consideration the Well-Managed Learning Environment score of 3.57 and the Digital Learning Environment score of 2.70.

NCSS scored a 312 on the overall Index of Educational Quality, which is rated on a scale of 100 to 400. The Teaching and Learning Impact received a score of 305, while the Leadership Capacity category received a score of 317 and Resource Utilization was rated at 325.

Poplus iterated some powerful practices that NCSS has been implementing.

“There are some things that you are doing well — above and beyond,” he stated. “NCSS utilizes a structured process to recruit, employ, acclimate and retain staff who have the skills, knowledge and commitment to the system’s mission and vision.”

Poplus also noted that NCSS has unique partnerships with parents and other community stakeholders who support the school system’s vision and mission. He additionally said that NCSS is committed to providing technology at all levels.

Although the general review was positive, the AdvancED Team had some suggestions for areas where NCSS could improve, mostly at the professional level. Their findings suggested that the school system develop and implement a rigorous, continuous program of professional learning that is aligned with the system’s vision and mission to ensure that all professional and support staff are fully prepared. The team also recommended that NCSS design and implement a plan to ensure all professional and support staff members are trained to evaluate analyze, interpret and use data to further the mission and vision of the system.

Poplus announced that the team recommended NCSS for accreditation, pending further review and final action by the AdvancED Accreditation Commission. After the completion of the team’s review, the AdvancED Office will review and send the report back to NCSS within 30 to 45 days. Following this, the AdvancED Accreditation Commission will meet and grant accreditation and status to the school system in June.

In addition to stating that he felt very welcomed by NCSS, Poplus concluded, “I would send my kids to a Newton County school in a heartbeat.”