Coweta School System submitting its two-year accreditation update

From Staff Reports
The Coweta County School System is submitting its two-year update report as a part of its system-wide accreditation plan.
The report is standard practice for all districts which have obtained five-year district accreditation. Coweta County’s 31-school system was awarded a five-year reaccreditation from 2011 to 2016 by the AdvancEd accreditation agency, formerly known as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
The system is reporting to the agency that Coweta schools are maintaining the high standards that the agency found in its 2010 review, and addressing the recommendations made by the agency during the system-wide accreditation process two years ago.
“Our 2010 accreditation report recommended the highest level of accreditation for Coweta County,” said Superintendent Steve Barker. “With this mid-term progress report we are showing that we have continued the additional best practices we have implemented since the visit, and we are maintaining the strengths they commended us for during accreditation.”
The system’s current accreditation was the second time that the school system achieved system-wide accreditation for its 31 schools. The first time was in 2006, through SACS.
The 2010 report followed three days of visits by the team to review the Coweta school system’s application for reaccreditation, and the school system’s educational processes and practices during a comprehensive system audit. Brooks and Ruth Hill Elementary schools, Lee and Madras Middle schools, Northgate and East Coweta high schools, and the system’s charter school, the Central Educational Center, were all visited during the review.
The accreditations committee issued a number of commendations to the system, including:

• That the Coweta County School System has created a culture that clearly reflects its vision, mission, and beliefs, resulting in community-wide pride in and support for the schools, an involved and committed learning community, commitment to ongoing student success, and active solicitation of stakeholder input at all levels.

• The school district has forward-thinking, committed leaders at all levels, including the school board, central office, schools, teachers, parents, students, and in the community — resulting in high levels of trust in the school system’s decision-making processes.

• The school district has established strong strategic planning to guide long-term school improvement initiatives. District-wide use of the GAPSS process is building a common instructional language throughout the district, a professional learning community among administrators and teachers, robust quality assurance practices, and evidence that the district is engaged in continuous improvement.

• The school district has developed powerful community partnerships exemplifying the system’s belief in providing “challenging, interesting, and satisfying work for students.”

The accreditation team also made three recommendations to the system, and the district’s update reflects how the system is addressing those recommendations:

1. The team recommended that the system develop concrete, measurable plan to address lagging student achievement of subgroups. The process should include, but not be limited to, the review of procedures and processes that many inhibit participation by underrepresented student populations in advanced programs, engaging the community in conversations on meeting the needs of all subgroups, and analysis and discussion of data beyond state standardized tests.

In response, the system has:

• Implemented mastery-based assessments to improve student performance.

• Implemented credit repair and recovery for high school students.

• Focused on increasing advanced placement and dual-enrollment opportunities for all students.

• Started the 8th Grade Charter and Career Academy at the Central Educational Center.

• Focused on diversity throughout the district.

2. The team recommended that the system research, develop, and communicate a vision and plan for instructional technology to promote the following outcomes: (1) technologically literate students, (2) processes for ensuring that best practices for 21st century teaching and learning are applied consistently throughout the system and (3) maximum flexibility in use of funds to address issues of equitable access to technology throughout the system.

Technology was seen primarily in terms of hardware and teacher presentation, and the team recommended that the system focus more on student mastery of technology and concerns about inequities around the district in access to and use of cutting-edge technology.

In response, the system has:

• Implemented a three-year, $3 million technology plan to provide technology infrastructure upgrades at all schools and improved classroom technology focused on student usage, now in its second year.

• Piloted “bring your own technology” programs over the last two years that promote student use of personal technology for directed classroom usage.

• Is providing matching funds to PTAs which allows schools to purchase student technology where they see the greatest need.

• Partnered with the Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center (a 501-c-3 group) to promote community donations of technology for student use, to help close gaps in access to student technology.

• Held technology summits for teachers that focus on best practices in the classroom and with student use of technology.

3. The team recommended that the system develop an ongoing system for monitoring and evaluating the implementation and impact of the five-year instructional focuses on teaching and learning. The district wisely allowed schools latitude in methods of redelivering system-wide professional learning initiatives, the team found, but interviews indicated the evaluations of these initiatives’ impact on student achievement are inconsistent throughout the system. The team recommended that the system develop a school-friendly but consistent process of evaluating professional learning.

In response, the system has:

• Continued use of the GAPSS school-evaluation process (which is based in AdvancEd standards) for continuous reviews of instructional practices.

• Regularly-held walkthrough data collection has been implemented to examine classroom practices and their impact on student achievement.

• Increased use of formative assessments are used to guide instructional practices.

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