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FSSD receives glowing scores on accreditation exit report

After three days of extensive evaluation, the Franklin Special School District received a glowing review and, by all indications, should receive notice of continued accreditation from AdvancED, one of the most esteemed education accrediting agencies in the nation.

The AdvancED Review Team observed classrooms in all FSSD schools, met with hundreds of stakeholders, and reviewed many artifacts and other forms of documentation during the week of April 8.
“If asked to describe Franklin, the word would be ‘excellence.’ You guys have got it,” said Review Team member Dr. Gene Johnson, Assistant Superintendent of Sullivan County. “The passion that you have for children has made me renew myself as an educator, so I thank you.”
“This external evaluation validates the commitment and dedication of our teachers, administrators, support staff, Board of Education, parents and community to providing the highest quality education to all children in the FSSD," said Dr. David Snowden, Director of Schools, who also led the district through the last system accreditation five years ago.
During her exit report to the Board of Education and district administrators, Mary Anne Hipp, AdvancED Lead Evaluator, congratulated the FSSD on its impressive evaluation scores, coining the term, “the Franklin way” as it relates to excellence in teaching and learning.

“When you go through the process of being accredited, you want a score that is going to hopefully fall between 2.0 and 3.0 on a scale of 1-4,” she informed the group. The FSSD exceeded those expectations in almost every standard:
1. Purpose and Direction:  3.75
2. Governance and Leadership:  3.3
3. Teaching and Assessing for Learning:  3.67
4. Resources and Support Systems:  3.25
5. Using Results for Continuous Improvement:  2.8
While the exit report received high scores, the whole process is intended to provide school districts with additional ways they can improve.

The Review Team and district leaders have identified the following areas for continuous improvement:
1. Identify qualified personnel to assist students and staff in determining the informational resources and tools necessary to support the system’s educational programs, to systematically integrate instructional technology resources into daily classroom instruction, to optimize student opportunities to use these resources for learning, and to continuously monitor their effectiveness on student achievement.
2. Provide additional training to teachers and support staff in the interpretation and use of data to inform instruction.  This needs to be heightened in urgency as the mandate of Response to Intervention (RtI) approaches.
Hipp said that during the FSSD accreditation process, several themes emerged:
1. Intentionality of practices that consistently put children first
2. Strength of the district is people
3. Passionate learners
4. Pride— “My child is a part of FSSD”
5. No compromise on instruction
6. Exemplary leadership
She added that within 30 business days, the FSSD will receive a copy of the completed and approved External Review report. At that time, the report will be shared with all stakeholders, and work can begin on the required actions and other opportunities identified by the External Review Team. 
The AdvancED Accreditation Commission meets twice yearly to review and approve all the External Review reports that have been completed during the previous semester. The Commission makes the final decision regarding the granting of accreditation.
The AdvancED Accreditation Process is a clear and comprehensive program of evaluation and external review, supported by research-based standards, and dedicated to helping schools, districts and education providers continuously improve. 
The FSSD chose to undergo system accreditation rather than school-by-school accreditation. According to AdvancED’s web site, “System accreditation has the power to nurture and support individual school improvement, and at the same time unify school improvement and align it with overall system improvement goals so that the system’s schools are moving in one direction together, on the same page.”

Posted on: 4/15/2013


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