MCS Accreditation Process

Overview

Over the next twelve months our school system will undergo the formal process of district accreditation. While this activity officially happens once every five years, the process of continuous improvement should be something we strive for each day. Over the next few weeks, I plan to use this space to discuss the accreditation process and the standards on which our system will be evaluated. Many of you will be directly involved in this process, both at the local school and district level, so I trust you will take a moment to familiarize yourself with this information.

First, the accrediting agency is AdvancED (formerly known as SACS CASI). AdvancED is the world leader in providing improvement and accreditation services to education providers of all types. AdvancED serves as a trusted partner to more than 32,000 schools and school systems—enrolling more than 20 million students—across the United States and 70 countries. The goal of AdvancED isn’t to determine whether a school is good enough, but rather to help all schools improve. They provide commendations and recommendations based on data gathered from a school system’s internal review, ASSIST survey results, and eleotTM classroom observation tool.

It is made clear to those participating on the External Review team that quality education can look differently from school to school. That’s why the AdvancED Standards for Quality require each school/system to be reviewed in a way that is appropriate to its mission and purpose. These Standards are research-based, comprehensive quality statements that describe conditions and factors that contribute to a quality educational experience and operational effectiveness. The five Standards for Quality are:

1. Purpose and Direction

2. Governance and Leadership

3. Teaching and Assessing for Learning

4. Resources and Support Systems

5. Using Results for Continuous Improvement

The Standards for Quality will be the foundation of our preparation over the next year. The information gathered on each of these standards within our school system will provide data we can transform into actionable knowledge of continuous improvement. Doing so is critical to creating a culture in which all can excel.

Standard 1 – Purpose and Direction

Vision…its importance can be dated back to biblical times with the proverbial quotation, “without a vision, people will perish”. For centuries, authors and individuals have understood the value of having a clear purpose and direction to guide their actions. Successful school systems are certainly no exception.

As we continue our study of the standards on which the accreditation process is based, we will look at Standard 1 – Purpose and Direction. To better understand this standard, one must ask these questions:

· Does Madison County Schools have a continuous improvement process?

· Does Madison County Schools have a commitment to high expectations for learning?

· Does Madison County Schools have shared beliefs about teaching and learning?

Below is the actual language from Standard 1, as well as, the Indicators that will be evaluated to determine our level of competence. Under each Indicator, are the Level 4 Performance Rating statements. I challenge us to focus on the highest level of performance with the understanding it is unlikely we will meet this level for every statement.

Standard 1 - Purpose and Direction

The system maintains and communicates at all levels of the organization a purpose and direction for continuous improvement that commit to high expectations for learning as well as shared values and beliefs about teaching and learning.

· Indicator 1.1 - The system engages in a systematic, inclusive, and comprehensive process to review, revise, and communicate a system-wide purpose for student success.

o Maintain records of a clearly documented process for review, revision and communication of the system’s purpose.

o The process is formalized and implemented with fidelity on a regular schedule.

o Includes participation by representatives selected at random from all stakeholder groups.

o The purpose statement clearly focuses on student success.

· Indicator 1.2 - The system ensures that each school engages in a systematic, inclusive, and comprehensive process to review, revise, and communicate a school purpose for student success.

o System policies and procedures clearly outline the expectations for schools regarding a systematic, inclusive and comprehensive process for review, revision and communication of a purpose for student success.

o System personnel monitor and maintain data about each school and provide feedback and training for the improvement of the implementation of the process to school personnel.

· Indicator 1.3 - The school leadership and staff at all levels of the system commit to a culture that is based on shared values and beliefs about teaching and learning and supports challenging, equitable educational programs and learning experiences for all students that include achievement of learning, thinking, and life skills.

o Commitment to shared values and beliefs about teaching and learning is clearly evident in documentation and decision making.

o This commitment is always reflected in communication among leaders and staff.

o Challenging educational programs and equitable learning experiences are implemented in a measurable way so that all students achieve learning, thinking and life skills necessary for success.

o Evidence indicates a strong commitment to instructional practices that include active student engagement, a focus on depth of understanding and the application of knowledge and skills.

o System leadership and staff hold one another accountable to high expectations for professional practice.

· Indicator 1.4 - Leadership at all levels of the system implement a continuous improvement process that provides clear direction for improving conditions that support student learning.

o Leaders at all levels of the system require the use of a documented, systematic continuous improvement process for improving student learning and the conditions that support learning.

o All stakeholder groups work collaboratively and consistently in authentic and meaningful ways that build and sustain ownership of the system’s purpose and direction.

o Personnel systematically maintain, use and communicate a profile with current and comprehensive data on student, school and system performance.

o The profile contains thorough analyses of a broad range of data used to identify goals for the improvement of conditions that support student learning and that are aligned with the system’s purpose.

o All improvement goals have measurable performance targets.

o System personnel hold one another accountable for and evaluate the overall quality of the implementation of all interventions and strategies.

o The process is reviewed and evaluated regularly.

o Documentation that the process is implemented with fidelity and yields improved student achievement and conditions that support student learning is available and communicated to stakeholders.


As you consider each of these Indicators and the Level 4 Performance Ratings, what stands out as powerful practices in the Madison County School System? What do you believe to be areas that are being done, but could become powerful if more emphasis, time, or resources were placed? Finally, what are areas that need immediate improvement for our system to excel?

The Standards for Quality will be the foundation of our preparation over the next year. The information gathered on each of these standards within our school system will provide data we can transform into actionable knowledge of continuous improvement. Doing so is critical to creating a culture in which all can excel.

Standard 2 – Governance and Leadership

Governance efficacy is defined as the power of school boards to change the face of education in their communities through positive and appropriate policymaking, equitable resource allocation and transparent accountability for all stakeholders. As we look at Standard 2 – Governance and Leadership this definition can guide the questions we need to ask:

· Does the Madison County Board of Education establish appropriate policies?

· Does the Madison County Board of Education allocate resources equitably?

· Does the Madison County Board of Education operate in a transparent and accountable manner?

Below is the actual language from Standard 2, as well as, the Indicators that will be evaluated to determine our level of competence. Under each Indicator, are the Level 4 Performance Rating statements (there are also statements for levels 1-3 for each Indicator). Let’s challenge ourselves to focus on the highest level of performance with the understanding it is unlikely we will meet this level for every statement.

Standard 2 – Governance and Leadership

The system operates under governance and leadership that promote and support student performance and system effectiveness.

· Indicator 2.1 - The governing body establishes policies and supports practices that ensure effective administration of the system and its schools.

o Policies and practices clearly and directly support the system’s purpose and direction and the effective operation of the system and its schools.

o Policies and practices require and have mechanisms in place for monitoring conditions that support student learning, effective instruction and assessment that produce equitable and challenging learning experiences for all students.

o There are policies and practices requiring and giving direction for professional growth of all staff.

o Policies and practices provide clear requirements, direction for and oversight of fiscal management at all levels of the system.

· Indicator 2.2 - The governing body operates responsibly and functions effectively.

o The governing body has implemented a process to evaluate its decisions and actions to ensure they are in accordance with defined roles and responsibilities, a formally adopted code of ethics and free of conflict of interest.

o Governing body members are required to participate in a systematic, formal professional development process regarding the roles and responsibilities of the governing body and its individual members. The professional development curriculum also includes conflict resolution, decision-making, supervision and evaluation, and fiscal responsibility.

o Members comply with all policies, procedures, laws and regulations and function as a cohesive unit for the benefit of effective system operation and student learning.

· Indicator 2.3 - The governing body ensures that the leadership at all levels has the autonomy to meet goals for achievement and instruction and to manage day-to-day operations effectively.

o The governing body consistently protects, supports and respects the autonomy of system and school leadership to accomplish goals for achievement and instruction and to manage day-to-day operations of the system and its schools.

o The governing body maintains a clear distinction between its roles and responsibilities and those of system and school leadership.

· Indicator 2.4 - Leadership and staff at all levels of the system foster a culture consistent with the system’s purpose and direction.

o Leaders and staff throughout the system deliberately and consistently align their decisions and actions toward continuous improvement to achieve the system’s purpose.

o They encourage, support and expect all personnel to maintain high standards and to hold students to high standards in all courses of study.

o All stakeholders are collectively accountable for maintaining and improving conditions that support student learning.

o Leaders throughout the system actively and consistently support and encourage innovation, collaboration, shared leadership and rigorous professional growth.

o The culture is characterized by collaboration and a sense of community among all stakeholders.

· Indicator 2.5 - Leadership engages stakeholders effectively in support of the system’s purpose and direction.

o Leaders consistently communicate effectively with appropriate and varied representatives from stakeholder groups, provide opportunities for stakeholders to shape decisions, solicit feedback and respond to stakeholders, work collaboratively on system and school improvement efforts, and provide and support meaningful leadership roles for stakeholders.

o System and school leaders’ proactive and persistent efforts result in measurable, active stakeholder participation; positive engagement in the system and its schools; a strong sense of community; and ownership.

· Indicator 2.6 - Leadership and staff supervision and evaluation processes result in improved professional practice in all areas of the system and improved student success.

o The primary focus of the criteria and processes of supervision and evaluation is improving professional practice in all areas of the system and ensuring student success.

o Supervision and evaluation processes are consistently and regularly implemented.

o The results of the supervision and evaluation processes are analyzed carefully and used to monitor and effectively adjust professional practice throughout the system and ensure student learning.


As you consider each of these Indicators and the Level 4 Performance Ratings, what stands out as powerful practices in the Madison County School System? What do you believe to be areas that are being done, but could become powerful if more emphasis, time, or resources were placed? Finally, what are areas that need immediate improvement for our system to excel?

The Standards for Quality will be the foundation of our preparation over the next year. The information gathered on each of these standards within our school system will provide data we can transform into actionable knowledge of continuous improvement. Doing so is critical to creating a culture in which all can excel.

Standard 3 – Teaching and Assessing for Learning (Indicators 3.1 – 3.6)

As we look at Standard 3 – Teaching and Assessing for Learning, we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

· Does the system provide an equitable and challenging curriculum to all students?

· Does the system use data to monitor and make adjustments to its curriculum?

· Do the system’s teachers work in a collegial manner to improve instruction?

Below is the actual language from Standard 3, as well as, the Indicators that will be evaluated to determine our level of competence. Under each Indicator, are the Level 4 Performance Rating statements (there are also statements for levels 1-3 for each Indicator). Let’s challenge ourselves to focus on the highest level of performance.

Standard 3 – Teaching and Assessing for Learning (Indicators 3.1 – 3.6)

The system’s curriculum, instructional design and assessment practices guide and ensure teacher effectiveness and student learning across all grades and courses.

· Indicator 3.1 - The system’s curriculum provides equitable and challenging learning experiences that ensure all students have sufficient opportunities to develop learning, thinking and life skills that lead to success at the next level.

o Curriculum and learning experiences in each course/class throughout the system provide all students with challenging and equitable opportunities to develop learning skills, thinking skills and life skills that align with the system’s and school’s purpose.

o Evidence clearly indicates curriculum and learning experiences prepare students for success at the next level.

o Like courses/classes have the same high learning expectations across the system.

o Teachers in all schools individualize learning activities for each student in a way that supports achievement of expectations.

· Indicator 3.2 - Curriculum, instruction, and assessment throughout the system are monitored and adjusted systematically in response to data from multiple assessments of student learning and an examination of professional practice.

o Using data from multiple assessments of student learning and an examination of professional practice, system and school personnel systematically monitor and adjust curriculum, instruction and assessment to ensure vertical and horizontal alignment and alignment with goals for achievement and instruction and statements of purpose.

o There is a systematic, collaborative process in place to ensure alignment each time curriculum, instruction and/or assessments are reviewed or revised at the system or school level.

o The continuous improvement process has clear guidelines to ensure that vertical and horizontal alignment as well as alignment with the system’s purpose are maintained and enhanced in curriculum, instruction and assessment.

· Indicator 3.3 - Teachers throughout the district engage students in their learning through instructional strategies that ensure achievement of learning expectations.

o Teachers throughout the district are consistent and deliberate in planning and using instructional strategies that require student collaboration, self-reflection and development of critical thinking skills.

o Teachers personalize instructional strategies and interventions to address individual learning needs of each student.

o Teachers consistently use instructional strategies that require students to apply knowledge and skills, integrate content and skills with other disciplines and use technologies as instructional resources and learning tools.

· Indicator 3.4 - System and school leaders monitor and support the improvement of instructional practices of teachers to ensure student success.

o System and school leaders formally and consistently monitor instructional practices through supervision and evaluation procedures beyond classroom observation to ensure that they 1) are aligned with the system’s values and beliefs about teaching and learning, 2) are teaching the approved curriculum, 3) are directly engaged with all students in the oversight of their learning and 4) use content-specific standards of professional practice.

· Indicator 3.5 - The system operates as a collaborative learning organization through structures that support improved instruction and student learning at all levels.

o All system staff participates in collaborative learning communities that meet both informally and formally on a regular schedule.

o Frequent collaboration occurs across grade levels, content areas and other system divisions.

o Staff members implement a formal process system-wide that promotes productive discussion about student learning and the conditions that support student learning.

o Learning, using and discussing the results of inquiry practices such as action research, the examination of student work, reflection, study teams and peer coaching are a part of the daily routine of all staff members.

o System personnel can clearly link collaboration to improvement results in instructional practice, system effectiveness and student performance.

· Indicator 3.6 - Teachers implement the system’s instructional process in support of student learning.

o All teachers throughout the system systematically use an instructional process that clearly informs students of learning expectations and standards of performance.

o Exemplars are provided to guide and inform students.

o The process requires the use of multiple measures, including formative assessments, to inform the ongoing modification of instruction and provide data for possible curriculum revision.

o The process provides students with specific and immediate feedback about their learning.



Standard 3 – Teaching and Assessing for Learning (Indicators 3.7 – 3.12)

The system’s curriculum, instructional design and assessment practices guide and ensure teacher effectiveness and student learning across all grades and courses.

· Indicator 3.7 - Mentoring, coaching and induction programs support instructional improvement consistent with the system’s values and beliefs about teaching and learning.

o All system personnel are engaged in systematic mentoring, coaching and induction programs that are consistent with the system’s values and beliefs about teaching, learning and the conditions that support learning.

o These programs set high expectations for all system personnel and include valid and reliable measures of performance.

· Indicator 3.8 - The system and all of its schools engage families in meaningful ways in their children’s education and keep them informed of their children’s learning progress.

o Programs that engage families in meaningful ways in their children’s education are designed, implemented and evaluated at the system level and in all schools.

o Families have multiple ways of staying informed of their children’s learning progress.

· Indicator 3.9 - The system designs and evaluates structures in all schools whereby each student is well known by at least one adult advocate in the student’s school who supports that student’s educational experience.

o School personnel implement and participate in a structure designed and evaluated by the system that gives them long-term interaction with individual students, allowing them to build strong relationships over time with the student and related adults.

o All students participate in the structure.

o The structure allows the school employee to gain significant insight into and serve as an advocate for the student’s needs regarding learning skills, thinking skills and life skills.

· Indicator 3.10 - Grading and reporting are based on clearly defined criteria that represent the attainment of content knowledge and skills and are consistent across grade levels and courses.

o All teachers across the system consistently use common grading and reporting policies, processes and procedures based on clearly defined criteria that represent each student’s attainment of content knowledge and skills.

o These policies, processes and procedures are implemented without fail in all schools across all grade levels and all courses.

o All stakeholders are aware of the policies, processes and procedures.

o The policies, processes and procedures are formally and regularly evaluated.

· Indicator 3.11 - All staff members participate in a continuous program of professional learning.

o All staff members participate in a rigorous, continuous program of professional learning that is aligned with the system’s purpose and direction.

o Professional development is individualized based on an assessment of needs of the system and the individual.

o The program builds measurable capacity among all professional and support staff.

o The program is rigorously and systematically evaluated for effectiveness in improving instruction, student learning and the conditions that support learning.

· Indicator 3.12 - The system and its schools provide and coordinate learning support services to meet the unique learning needs of students.

o System and school personnel systematically and continuously use data to identify unique learning needs of all students at all levels of proficiency as well as other learning needs (such as second languages).

o System and school personnel stay current on research related to unique characteristics of learning (such as learning styles, multiple intelligences, personality type indicators) and provide or coordinate related individualized learning support services to all students.



As you consider each of these Indicators and the Level 4 Performance Ratings, what stands out as powerful practices in the Madison County School System? What do you believe to be areas that are being done, but could become powerful if more emphasis, time, or resources were placed? Finally, what are areas that need immediate improvement for our system to excel?

The Standards for Quality will be the foundation of our preparation over the next year. The information gathered on each of these standards within our school system will provide data we can transform into actionable knowledge of continuous improvement. Doing so is critical to creating a culture in which all can excel.

Standard 4

As we look at Standard 4 – Resources and Support Systems, we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

· Does the system provide resources to meet the instructional needs of its students?

· Does the system provide a technology infrastructure to meet its learning and operational needs?

· Doe the system provide resources to meet the social and emotional needs of its students?

Below is the actual language from Standard 4, as well as, the Indicators that will be evaluated to determine our level of competence. Under each Indicator, are the Level 4 Performance Rating statements (there are also statements for levels 1-3 for each Indicator). Let’s challenge ourselves to focus on the highest level of performance.

Standard 4 – Resources and Support Systems

The system has resources and provides services in all schools that support its purpose and direction to ensure success for all students.

· Indicator 4.1 - The system engages in a systematic process to recruit, employ and retain a sufficient number of qualified professional and support staff to fulfill their roles and responsibilities and support the purpose and direction of the system, individual schools and educational programs.

o Clearly defined policies, processes and procedures ensure that system and school leaders have access to, hire, place and retain qualified professional and support staff.

o System and school leaders use a formal, systematic process to determine the number of personnel necessary to fill all the roles and responsibilities necessary to support purposes, educational programs and continuous improvement throughout the district.

o Sustained fiscal resources are available to fund all positions necessary to achieve the purpose and direction of the system, individual schools and educational programs.

· Indicator 4.2 - Instructional time, material resources and fiscal resources are sufficient to support the purpose and direction of the system, individual schools, educational programs and system operations.

o Instructional time, material resources and fiscal resources are focused solely on supporting the purpose and direction of the system, its schools, educational programs and system operations.

o Instructional time is fiercely protected in policy and practice in all schools.

o System and school leaders exhaust every option to secure material and fiscal resources to meet the needs of all students and improve the effectiveness of the system.

o System and school leaders measurably demonstrate that instructional time, material resources and fiscal resources are allocated so that all students have equitable opportunities to attain challenging learning expectations.

o Efforts toward the continuous improvement of instruction and operations concentrate on achieving the purpose and direction of the system and its schools.

· Indicator 4.3 - The system maintains facilities, services and equipment to provide a safe, clean and healthy environment for all students and staff.

o System and school leaders have adopted or collaboratively created clear definitions and expectations for maintaining safety, cleanliness and a healthy environment and have shared these definitions and expectations with all stakeholders.

o All system and school personnel as well as students are accountable for maintaining these expectations.

o Valid measures are in place that allow for continuous tracking of these conditions.

o Improvement plans are developed and implemented by appropriate personnel to continuously improve these conditions.

o The results of improvement efforts are systematically evaluated regularly.

· Indicator 4.4 - The system demonstrates strategic resource management that includes long-range planning in support of the purpose and direction of the system.

o The system has clearly defined policies and procedures for strategic resource management.

o The system employs a systematic, long-range, strategic planning process in the areas of budget, facilities and other strategic system components.

o The strategic planning process is regularly evaluated for effectiveness, and improvement plans related to the process are developed and implemented when necessary.

o All strategic plans are implemented with fidelity by the governing body and system leaders and have built-in measures used to monitor and ensure successful implementation and completion.

· Indicator 4.5 - The system provides, coordinates and evaluates the effectiveness of information resources and related personnel to support educational programs throughout the system.

o The system provides, coordinates and evaluates the effectiveness of information resources and related personnel to ensure that all students and school and system personnel have access to an exceptional collection of media and information resources to achieve the educational programs of the system and its schools.

o The system designs, implements and evaluates processes to ensure highly qualified personnel are recruited, hired and retained in sufficient numbers to assist students and school and system personnel in learning about the tools and locations for finding and retrieving information.

· Indicator 4.6 - The system provides a technology infrastructure and equipment to support the system’s teaching, learning and operational needs.

o The system provides a modern, fully functional technology infrastructure; state-of-the-art equipment; and a highly qualified technical support staff to meet the teaching, learning and operational needs of all stakeholders throughout the system.

o System and school personnel develop and administer needs assessments and use the resulting data to develop and implement a technology plan to continuously improve technology services, infrastructure and equipment.

· Indicator 4.7 - The system provides, coordinates and evaluates the effectiveness of support systems to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of the student population being served.

o The system has designed and implemented a process to determine the physical, social and emotional needs of all students and then selects or designs and implements programs to meet the needs of each student in the system.

o Valid and reliable measures of program effectiveness are in place, and system and school personnel use the data from these measures to regularly and comprehensively evaluate all programs.

o Improvement plans related to these programs are designed, implemented and evaluated to more effectively meet the needs of all students.

· Indicator 4.8 - The system provides, coordinates and evaluates the effectiveness of services that support the counseling, assessment, referral, educational and career planning needs of all students.

o The system has designed and implemented a process to determine the counseling, assessment, referral, educational and career planning needs of all students and then selects or designs and implements programs to meet the needs of each student in the system.

o Valid and reliable measures of program effectiveness are in place, and system and school personnel use the data from these measures to regularly and comprehensively evaluate all programs.

o Improvement plans related to these programs are designed, implemented and evaluated to more effectively meet the needs of all students.

Standard 5

As we look at Standard 5 – Using Results for Continuous Improvement, we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

· Does the system utilize data to evaluate programs and processes for the purpose of improving student achievement?

· Does the system provide training to assist staff in utilizing data for the purpose of continuous improvement?

· Doe the system communicate comprehensive information about student learning to its stakeholders?

Below is the actual language from Standard 5, as well as, the Indicators that will be evaluated to determine our level of competence. Under each Indicator, are the Level 4 Performance Rating statements (there are also statements for levels 1-3 for each Indicator). Let’s challenge ourselves to focus on the highest level of performance.

Standard 5 – Using Results for Continuous Improvement

The system implements a comprehensive assessment system that generates a range of data about student learning and system effectiveness and uses the results to guide continuous improvement.

· Indicator 5.1 - The system establishes and maintains a clearly defined and comprehensive student assessment system.

o All system and school personnel maintain and consistently use a comprehensive assessment system that produces data from multiple assessment measures.

o These measures include locally developed and standardized assessments about student learning as well as school and system (including non-instructional divisions) performance.

o The comprehensive assessment system ensures consistent measurement across all classrooms, courses, educational programs and system divisions.

o All assessments are proven reliable and bias free.

o The comprehensive assessment system is regularly and systematically evaluated for reliability and effectiveness in improving instruction, student learning and the conditions that support learning.

· Indicator 5.2 - Professional and support staff continuously collect, analyze and apply learning from a range of data sources, including comparison and trend data about student learning, instruction, program evaluation and organizational conditions that support learning.

o Systematic processes and procedures for collecting, analyzing and applying learning from all data sources are documented and used consistently by professional and support staff throughout the district.

o Data sources include comparison and trend data that provide a comprehensive and complete picture of student learning, instruction, the effectiveness of programs and the conditions that support learning.

o All system personnel use data to design, implement and evaluate continuous improvement plans to improve student learning, instruction, the effectiveness of programs and the conditions that support learning.

· Indicator 5.3 - Throughout the system professional and support staff are trained in the interpretation and use of data.

o All professional and support staff members are regularly and systematically assessed and trained in a rigorous, individualized professional development program related to the evaluation, interpretation and use of data.

· Indicator 5.4 - The school system engages in a continuous process to determine verifiable improvement in student learning, including readiness for and success at the next level.

o Policies and procedures clearly define and describe a process for analyzing data that determine verifiable improvement in student learning, including readiness for and success at the next level.

o Results indicate significant improvement, and system and school personnel systematically and consistently use these results to design, implement and evaluate the results of continuous improvement action plans related to student learning, including readiness for and success at the next level.

· Indicator 5.5 - System and school leaders monitor and communicate comprehensive information about student learning, school performance and the achievement of system and school improvement goals to stakeholders.

o System and school leaders monitor comprehensive information about student learning, system and school effectiveness, and the achievement of system and school improvement goals.

o Leaders regularly communicate results using multiple delivery methods and in appropriate degrees of sophistication for all stakeholder groups.