SACS representatives begin schools evaluation
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Mar 11, 2014 | 518 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Cleveland City Schools system has begun the set of meetings and school tours coinciding with a visit from an AdvancED School Systems Accreditation external review committee from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The SACS representatives will be in town through the middle of the week as they survey the school system and determine if its current accreditation can be renewed.

Taking part in several meetings leading up to the final one Wednesday afternoon, they will be evaluating everything from the effectiveness of the school system’s leadership to the resources that are available to its teachers.

Supervisor of Professional Development and Federal Projects Debby Torres said one of the main purposes of having those meetings is to show how it has met certain benchmarks.

The school system will be evaluated on how well its practices have illustrated several standards, including purpose and direction, governance and leadership, teaching and assessing for learning and using results for continuous improvement.

“We have compiled reports to show them how we have met those standards,” Torres said.

The visit began Sunday night when City Schools Director Dr. Martin Ringstaff presented the representatives with an overview of the school system.

On Monday morning, SACS representatives began meeting with Ringstaff, school board members, teams chosen by the school officials to show how the system has met each of the five standards and parent and community teams. The representatives were set to meet with those groups and interview members of them throughout the day.

Today, they were set to continue the meetings and travel to all the local schools to see firsthand what the school system has been doing.

Wednesday afternoon, the representatives are set to recommend new goals for the school system to tackle and let everyone know if Cleveland City Schools will be reaccredited.

SACS recommended four goals after its last visit:

- Increase the graduation rate to meet state expectations.

- Research and develop a math initiative to address areas of need at all grade levels.

- Address growth differences and gaps within subgroups.

- Integrate reading strategies into all content areas for grades 9-12.

Torres said she believed the school system had met each of the goals and hoped that fact would be well communicated to the visiting SACS representatives.

Ringstaff said late last week he hoped SACS would take notice of how the school system has handled a growing population of students, an increasing number of students for whom English is their second language, growth in the number of career and technical education course offerings and changes that have come from adopting a new strategic plans since the school system was last evaluated for SACS accreditation.

The AdvancED accreditation is optional, and the renewal process happens every five years. The SACS website describes the overall accreditation process as “a set of rigorous protocols and research-based processes for evaluating an institution’s organizational effectiveness.” It also “examines the whole institution — the programs, the cultural context, the community of stakeholders — to determine how well the parts work together to meet the needs of students.” 

At least 975 school systems have received the accreditation nationwide.