Polk School District can expect another five years of accreditation from the Southern Association of College and Schools (SACS).
Dr. David Spellman, lead evaluator for the AdvanceED committee, stated that accreditation is based on several factors including a self-assessment, assessment by an external review team and stakeholder perceptions from parents, students and educators. Spellman shared the results of the external review held this week with the board and members of the public at a special session meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 3 p.m.
AdvanceED, the corporation in charge of SACS as well as the Northwestern and North Central Associations for Accreditation sent an external review team made up of six professionals in the education field from around the country to assess Polk schools and the central office on a variety of standards.
“What we're really about now is helping school systems improve continuously and become more effective,” Spellman said.
The review scored the schools and central office on five standards using a detailed, four point rubric with “4” being the highest, according to Spellman.
The report listed the five standards and the district's scores as:
- Purpose and direction: 3.5
- Resources and support: 2.88
- Teaching and assessing for learning: 2.67
- Governance and leadership: 2.67
- Using results for continuous improvement: 2.8
“This is a process evaluation not a performance evaluation,” Spellman said. “But based on the reviews that I've done, Polk's scores are very much in the range of what I've seen when I go out.”
The report praised Polk School District for having a system-wide process in place to review each school's vision and mission statements that includes stakeholder involvement, and for the involvement of its leadership.
Two recommendations for improvement listed in the review were for the district to develop and implement a strategic plan to engage parents and families in the education of the their children, and to continue to introduce and upgrade new technology to students and teachers.
“Your mission statement includes preparing students for the next level, and for some of them, the next level will be a college education where everything is online and they never have to be in a classroom,” Spellman said. “You need the infrastructure to provide kids with the training to prepare for that.”
Spellman finished his presentation by urging the board and educators to think like a single system rather than two communities.
“Communication, engagement and trust are the keys to success,” he said.
The external review board recommended Polk School District for five more years of accreditation. The next stage of the process is for the report to go before the AdvanceED accreditation office in 30 days. The commission should finalize the process in or around June, according to Spellman.