City schools get high marks
by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer
Mar 13, 2014 | 736 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Cleveland City Schools received high marks and a recommendation for accreditation from the AdvancED Systems Accreditation External Review committee after a 2 1/2 day visit.

Committee chair Dr. Edlow Barker presented the results to the Cleveland Board of Education in a special called meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The external review team was made up of “professional peers” Dr. Sean Impeartrice of Clarksville, Dr. Robin Morthel of Lebanon, Glenna Aytes of Kingston, Jennifer Angel of Burgaw, N.C., and Barker of Richmond, Va.

AdvancED strongly emphasizes the need for teams to leave each school system with at least one required action.

According to Barker, system administrators should “develop and implement a systematic inclusive, and comprehensive process to review and revise the district’s vision and mission statements.”

A total of 139 interviews occurred over the course of the committee’s visit. These interviews were conducted with 22 district administrators, 15 school administrators, 71 teachers and support staff and six school board members. An additional 52 classroom observations across the city schools contributed to the committee’s survey.

The team observed classrooms and conducted interviews to determine the system’s index of educational quality.

“I want to commend you for what I see as a very strong, from my experience, rating,” Barker said. “I can’t compare it to anybody else in Tennessee ... but all [IEQ scores are] in the 300s. All solidly in the green.”

City schools received a 322 out of 400 for its overall index of educational quality; a 324 for its teaching and learning impact; a 325 for its leadership capacity; and 313 for its resource utilization.

Three powerful practices were highlighted by the team and presented to the board through Barker.

- The Cleveland Board of Education’s ability to operate as a cohesive unit.

“We are convinced that [the school board] working together is making a difference in this district in providing the right leadership and direction,” Barker said. “You are representing your stakeholders.”

- The director of schools and other key leaders engage in effective communication of the district’s programs with stakeholders throughout the community.

- Curricular development and instructional support provided by instructional facilitators, instructional coaches and curriculum coordinators.

“They are helping teachers. They are helping principals. I bet sometimes they even help kids,” Barker said. “This, as opposed to the memo coming out of the central office, is commendable, and it builds the capacity of your district to go even higher and higher.”

Four opportunities for improvement were highlighted by the team: 

- Schedule annual comprehensive reviews of the system and school mission statements. Determine whether the mission statements are being accurately met on a regular basis through the everyday functioning of the school.

- Complete the work started to prepare schools, teachers and students for the Common Core State Standards.

- Provide new teachers and struggling educators with a “teacher mentoring, coaching and induction program.” In addition, create a leadership development program for aspiring administrators.

- Develop a “comprehensive process” to determine and ensure the continual practice of the essential functions of the school district.

A thorough report will be sent by the AdvancED office to the school system in the next 30 days. If approved, the AdvancED Accreditation Commission will grant accreditation in June.