Troup County schools are preparing for the school system’s upcoming accreditation evaluation, which will determine the credibility of the school system to higher education institutions and graduates.
All Troup schools are currently conducting internal reviews for the AdvancED – formerly SACS, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – accreditation. Karen Cagle, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting that with the name change, the process has changed since the last time the school system was evaluated for accreditation.
The first step is the internal review, which Cagle said has been ongoing since spring and included giving surveys to stakeholders and evaluating test data. The school system was originally to undergo re-accreditation last year, but was given a reprieve because of administrative changes, including the recent hiring of superintendent Cole Pugh and Cagle’s promotion to her current position, which had been left open for several months prior.
“All schools are conducting internal reviews based on five standards, looking at data, stakeholder input and actual observation on campus,” Cagle said. “The deadline is the end of this month. They’re burning the midnight oil getting all those reports loaded online.”
After the internal evaluations are complete, central administrators will take the information and use it to create a system-wide report, which Cagle said should be sent to AdvancED by the time schools close for winter break in December.
“The internal review is by far the most in-depth of the process. By the time we reach the external review, we’ve done the hard part,” Cagle said. “When educators come (in February), and they could be from anywhere in the country … they will conduct an extensive review. That group will come into the school system and take a look at what we’ve done and confirm if what we’ve reported is accurate.”
The group uses five standards in its evaluation: purpose and direction – the school system’s mission, vision and beliefs; government and leadership; assessing equability, accountability, professional learning, grading and proficiency; schools’ access to resources and support; and whether the system is using results for continuous improvement.
Students, staff and members of the community all have opportunities to be involved in the process. On Oct. 9 at 6 p.m., the school system is holding a stakeholder meeting to gather input from those groups.
On Feb. 13, the group is expected to present to the Board of Education its recommendation of whether the school system should have its accreditation renewed, then bring that recommendation to the AdvancED board. Cagle said the accreditation does serve an important purpose for the school system.
“Think about if you were someone coming to the area, would you want your child to go to a school that’s not accredited,” Cagle asked. “If you’re looking to go to college, and your school’s not accredited, then the college is not going to be interested.”
Board chairman John Darden said the accreditation process is important and also looks at areas of the school system’s operation.
“Several schools throughout the state are on the watch list and several have lost accreditation or been put on probationary status,” he said. “This is not a fly-by-night, willy nilly thing to come into … it’s looked at by a lot of colleges in these situations.”
Cagle added that it also gives the school system an opportunity to find areas it needs to work on.
“We’re trying to take a deep, honest look at ourselves and improve,” she said.