AdvancED’s external review was completed on Wednesday and the five member team, led by Dr. Mike Griffin (photo, left) from Rock Hill, South Carolina, will be recommending that the district be ‘re-accredited’. Because the AdvancED Accreditation Commission is piloting a new international protocol for school systems, they will review the ratings from 53 other school districts that have been evaluated this calendar year prior to issuing an official status in early January, 2013.
There are three key elements for accreditation: 1) assessment of standards and indicators, both by the district and the External Review Team; 2) student performance results, and 3) stakeholder perceptions. During their visit, the team met with 34 parents, 61 students, 48 teachers, 28 administrators and the five members of the Asheville City Board of Education. Team members also visited 29 classrooms on Tuesday.
“You worked very hard to prepare for our visit,” Griffin said in his summary remarks. “We made our very best effort to work hard on your behalf. It has been especially refreshing that you have taken an honest look at your district during the self assessment.”
The team presented ratings for each of the five accreditation standards and noted that they were similar to the district’s internal evaluation. The five standards are built around the concept of systemic, systematic and sustainable improvement. The AdvancED protocol is designed to build capacity of the system and its schools to increase and sustain student learning.
The External Review Team noted three ‘powerful practices’ within the climate and operations of Asheville City Schools: 1) strong partnerships, including the Asheville City Schools Foundation, City Council and parental involvement; 2) AVID, which Dr. Griffin noted had proven “staying power” after 15 years of strong partnerships and measurable outcomes, and 3) the elementary foreign language program. “I observed a second grade Spanish class,” Griffin reported, “and it was conversational throughout. Other districts are cancelling out on foreign language; you aren’t.”
The team listed three ‘required actions’ for the district’s to-do list: 1) review and strengthen the new strategic plan by prioritizing goals and creating measurable outcomes; 2) evaluate the technology plan to ensure that it is aligned, sustainable, compatible and effectively addresses learning, productivity and communication, and 3) conduct a comprehensive program evaluation to identify high impact initiatives that reduce the achievement gap, implement and monitor identified initiatives with fidelity and eliminate those programs that prove to be less effective.
Asheville City Schools will receive a written report within 30 business days. Accreditation status will occur in early 2013.
Dr. Griffin concluded with a quote from Albert Einstein: ‘Wisdom is not a product of schooling, but a life-long journey to acquire it.’ “ We challenge you to help your students to acquire wisdom.”
Superintendent Allen Johnson closed the called Board meeting with a thank you to the External Review Team. “You have been very helpful. We will be a better school system because of your visit. I’m proud of you,” Johnson said as he turned to the audience of Board members, administrators and teachers. "But now, we have more work to do.”