Editorial: School District 56 beats the national average

In visiting classrooms, the review team found “many examples of high-quality classroom instruction…” with all students having “access to the teacher, discussion, activities and support for their learning needs.”

The relief was palpable and obvious when the leader of the review team announced School District 56 will be recommended for another 5-year accreditation. There are those who will say the results of the local district’s efforts to be accredited by AdvancED for five more years was likely never in doubt. But we know this much, school officials – led by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Laura Koskela – have put much effort and hundreds of hours into making sure the review team saw our schools at their very best. Koskela is retiring as a District 56 administrator at the end of this year and she is to be commended for not just phoning it in. She was engaged in this process and the results show. And, in fact, the review team commended the district for conducting an effective internal review in preparation for team’s visit here. The six members of the AdvancED review team spent three days in Clinton last week, visited every school and conducted hundreds of interviews with teachers, students (lots of students), other staff members, administrators, school board members and members of the community. All of the team members are veteran educators and they weren’t going to be fooled by an effort to put lipstick on a pig. They got to the root of the educating that is going on in our schools and they were impressed. District 56 scored above AdvancED’s national (indeed worldwide) average in almost every category that was scored. We should be very proud. The review team leader, who is a retired Louisiana educator, complimented our students several times while presenting the review team’s report to the District 56 board of trustees. “Your kids are excellent,” he said, adding that more than once, students would open doors for review team members and hold it while they entered the building. “That doesn’t happen in my district,” Dr. Drew Moore said. He said the team found “great schools, great kids, great teachers and great professionals.” The 30-minute long presentation of the review team included things the district is doing right (powerful practices), things the district needs to work on (opportunities for improvement) and a priority for improvements. Once the AdvancED Accreditation Commission approves the team’s recommendation for accreditation, the formal report will include a list of improvements for the district. The items on the list must be addressed within two years – and Moore promised that AdvancED is going to follow up. The review team’s report included some educational mumbo-jumbo, as was expected: “Students across the system benefit from the highly developed culture of respect, learning and expectations that has been deliberately established and systemically supported by system leaders and classroom educators.” The reviewers determined that our teachers collaborate to analyze data and then make instructional decisions. “This practice supports ongoing training in evaluation and use of data to improve student performance,” the review team report said. In visiting classrooms, the review team found “many examples of high-quality classroom instruction…” with all students having “access to the teacher, discussion, activities and support for their learning needs.” Moore said the reviewers saw strong positive interaction between students and teachers. Our students, he said, are not hesitate to engage in quality discussions during times of instruction. After Moore announced the review team was going to recommend District 56’s continuing AdvancED accreditation, Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields said, “It’s so good to have people affirm what we’re doing.” Board Chairman Jim Barton said, “We have a lot of work to do. But we have somewhere to start.”

My Clinton News

P.O. Box 180
513 North Broad St.
Clinton, SC 29325
Phone: (864) 833-1900
Fax: (864) 833-1902

 

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