AdvancED Accreditation: District 56 Celebration

A lot of people—both in and outside of the formal district and school system—contributed to make our accreditation visit an exhilarating success.

As readers of The Clinton Chronicle, you are fully aware of our recent visit from an External Review Team from across the nation and around the state. The team of six visitors spent three full days in the district interviewing stakeholders (parents and community member); observing classes, teachers, and students; and determining if our self-assessment (conducted before their arrival) matched their findings. The following article is a recap of an email I sent to all district faculty and staff late last Wednesday night. “I want to extend to each and every one of you a heartfelt "thank you" for your effort, expertise, and enthusiasm as the AdvancED External Review Team (ERT) acknowledged what we did and continue to do on a daily basis with a resounding score of approval. The Index of Education Quality (IEQ) is calculated based on the district's commitment to the AdvancED Standards. An overall score is provided along with a score in three domains: Teaching and Learning Impact, Leadership Capacity, and Resource Utilization. Laurens County School District 56 scored above the international and national average (AdvancED Education Network (AEN) with an overall rating of 300. The Teaching and Learning Impact domain was determined by the use of the ELEOT walk-through instrument. Seventy-four (74) formal ELEOT evaluations were conducted. Again, our teachers proved why they are some of the very best anywhere. This is what the Visiting Committee said about their ELEOT observations: • Many examples of high quality classroom instruction exist in the schools that serve as models for improvement. • All students have access t the teacher, class discussions, activities, and support for their learning needs. • Strong positive interactions between students and their teachers were evident. • Students strive to meet the expectations of their teachers. • Differentiation is evident but not observed in every classroom. • Instances of higher order thinking skills were observed. • Students interact respectfully with school personnel and peers. • Friendly, welcoming, well-maintained learning environments are the norm. • Instructional activities are a mix of large groups/small group and teacher-centered across the system. • The use of exemplars should be improved (i.e., exemplars would be models or examples of varying qualities of the student work). • Students willingly take risks in offering opinions, suggestions, and answers. • Examples of effective student collaboration were observed in most classrooms. • Creative, efficient and effective classroom management techniques are utilized. The External Review Team provided three overall findings as follows: • Students across the system benefit from the highly developed culture of respect, learning, and expectations that has been deliberately established and systematically supported by system leaders and classroom educators. • Teachers work in strong collaborative communities to analyze data and guide instructional decision-making in the classrooms. This practice supports ongoing training in evaluation and use of data to improve student performance. • The system guided by the formal Mission Statement is focused on student success and will benefit from the alignment of all practices, programs, initiatives, and goals with the mission.” The above summation did not happen in a vacuum. A lot of people—both in and outside of the formal district and school system—contributed to make our accreditation visit an exhilarating success. On behalf of the district and the school board, I want to say “Thank you.” (Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens School District 56.)

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