Thursday, February 7, 2013
Dorchester School District 2 will be recommended for re-accreditation to Advance ED, the international accreditation organization that is reviewing the district.
The re-accreditation process occurs every five years, noted Dr. Sean Alford, DD2 assistant superintendent for Instruction. The district went through the initial process five years ago; this is its first re-accreditation process, he said.
“I think it’s especially important to note that this is a voluntary process – it’s another way the district tries to open doors, invite input, and continually seek ways to constantly improve itself,” Alford said. “I think that says something.”
The news came during a special presentation Wednesday during a meeting of the DD2 board of trustees. David Spellman, leader of the Advance ED review team, which consisted of six education professionals from around the country, presented the results of the review.
The team reviewed six schools in the district, including Ashley Ridge High School, Fort Dorchester High School, Gregg Middle School, River Oaks Middle School, Flowertown Elementary School, and Newington Elementary School. The idea is to get a closer look at a good cross section of schools and students.
“Everyone did very well,” Alford said. “But the great thing is, the review team could have gone to any six DD2 schools and found the same things – and we’re extremely proud of that.”
At the heart of the accreditation process are standards that reflect many facets of the entire organization, rather than focus on just one aspect, Spellman noted. The idea is to see how all the different areas of the district interconnect with each other to achieve the vision and mission of the district.
The three key elements of the review process include assessment of standards and indicators, both through the review team’s assessment and through self-assessment; student performance results; and stakeholder perceptions, Spellman said. The standards by which the review team evaluated the district included purpose and direction, governance and leadership, resources and support systems, teaching and assessing for learning, and using results for continuous improvement. The district scored well in all these areas, Spellman said.
Two areas the district needs to act upon are implementation of a system-wide approach that will provide a connection between every student and at least one adult on campus, as well as updating technology infrastructure.
Interestingly enough, these two areas of improvement are exactly the same two areas that the district itself identified, Alford said.
“We do a lot of that one to one advocacy at a lot of levels,” Alford said. “This is addressing the goal of taking it from a “practice” to a codified, established practice.”
Technological upgrades are slated as well, he said.
The review team also listed six “powerful practices” the district has in place and is doing well. These include working to recruit, hire and retain high quality teachers and staff, monitoring and communicating timely and useful information about student learning and goals to stakeholders, a system-wide focus on data-driven decisions, an atmosphere of collaborative learning, a common and unified purpose based on shared values regarding teaching and learning, and a governing body that ensures autonomy for school leadership to meet instruction and achievement goals, Spellman said.
“We will be recommending accreditation to the accreditation office and they will return their report back to you in 30 days,” Spellman said.
After that, if all is in order, the AdvanceEd Accreditation Commission will grant accreditation and status, he said.