Archived Story

City schools accredited for five more years

Published 6:02am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Russellville city school officials worked for more than a year preparing to host guests who were in town for less than three days last week.
When it was all said and done though, that hard work paid off.
School officials were notified during a board meeting last week that they were being recommended for accreditation once again.
The news came from a group of educators from various parts of the Southeast who were evaluating the system for AdvancED, which is the organization the system receives accreditation through.
“We are very pleased and really the results are about what we were expecting,” said city schools superintendent Rex Mayfield.
The AdvanceEd Quality Assurance Review team spent three days in Russellville last week observing the schools, reviewing documents and conducting interviews with school officials as well as parents and students.
The QAR team listened to presentations, observed learning environments, visited each school in the district and interviewed 217 individual administrators, board members, teachers, parents, students and community members to receive the best overall picture of the kind of district the city system is.
After analyzing all the data and information they had been given, the QAR team rated the school system on seven learning environment categories.
The city schools scored 2.5 or higher on a four-point scale in six of the seven categories rated. The categories were: equitable learning (2.9), high expectations (2.6), supportive learning (3.0), active learning (3.0), progress monitoring and feedback (2.5) and well-managed learning environment (3.4).
They received a 1.7 in the digital learning environment category, but team members emphasized that that was not an abnormal score because it’s possible teachers were using those techniques prior to or after the team members were in the classroom. However, they could only judge on what they saw while in the classroom themselves.
In the five AdvancEd Standards, the system received at least a 2.83 rating out of a possible four. Those categories were: purpose and direction (3.0), governance and leadership (2.83), teaching and assessing for learning (3.0), resources and support systems (2.88) and using results for continuous improvement (3.0).
The system did not receive any below average ratings on the standards.
In addition to the high ratings, the school system received several commendations for areas the QAR team felt the district excelled in.
The QAR team commended the system for their wide array of interventions at all grade levels designed to improve student achievement.
“We saw a lot of hard work in this system and people who are working to provide better for their students and we appreciated that,” said lead evaluator Pat Summers, who traveled from Atlanta for the review.
The review team suggested that the system develop a written process to train staff and a written quality control process to increase communication between the schools and the community.
They commended the system for having a comprehensive manual of policies and practices, for having a collaborative school board and superintendent, professional development activities at all instruction levels and a well-designed continuous improvement plan.
The team was also quick to praise the system’s implementation of a new student transportation system and their willingness to soon have school resource officers at each school.
“We found that the parents feel supported by administrators and staff and the students feel valued and supported,” Summers said.
“You have met the requirements and we recommend you continue your accreditation for the next five years.”
Mayfield said he is proud of the excellent ratings the school system received and said it’s no doubt thanks to the efforts of all the personnel employed in the system.
“We have been preparing for this accreditation and almost everyone in our school system has been involved in that preparation,” he said.
“The team members kept commenting on how organized and efficient everything was and that was due in large part to the hard work of a lot of people. The good report we received just confirms to me that our personnel, administrators and teachers are doing the job they’re supposed to be doing in working for our students.”
RCS will receive the written report from the QAR team in less than 30 days.
The QAR team will submit their report and recommendation for accreditation to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission who has the final say.

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