County BOE gets accreditation

Published 5:13 pm Friday, December 12, 2014

Butler County Board of Education board members were all smiles Wednesday afternoon after the school system received a recommendation for accreditation at its special-called meeting.

BCS Superintendent Amy Bryan said the accreditation process is an assessment of the school system’s “quality.”

“I’m very pleased that we are accredited,” Bryan, who has been the superintendent for Butler County since March, said. “The findings that they suggested are broad, long term. We look forward to tackling those, but we’re glad there are no crises moments. It confirmed a lot of the good things we thought were good we had implemented.”

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Much of what Bryan said was included in Dr. Kathy Spencer’s external review exit report for accreditation to the board.

Spencer served as the lead evaluator on five-person external review team who evaluated the BCS earlier this week. She has led several school system accreditation reviews throughout the AdvancED network in her role.

The external review is a diagnostic process to stimulate and guide continuous improvement with a focus on the impact of teaching and learning, capacity of leadership and the use of resources.

During the team’s visit, they met with 141 individual stakeholders, including students, the superintendent, board members, district staff, school administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and community members.

Additionally, the team split up and visited each school in the system, whereby they observed 52 classrooms, spending some 20 minutes in each.

Spencer said with the number of teachers in the system, there is a wealth of passion and experience.

During the four-day observance, the review team examined student performance results, quality of instruction, learning and family engagement, support services for student learning, curriculum quality and efficacy and college and career readiness data.

The review team’s findings include:

Improvement priorities

• implementing a system to monitor and adjust instruction through the use of data;

• design and implement a process for all students to have access to an adult advocate;

Opportunities to consider

• consistent grading and reporting criteria;

• instructional practices focused on individual student needs;

• coordinating learning support services; and,

• establishing a system for analyzing data related to student learning and improvement.

“This is a great opportunity to develop a processing system everyone can be involved in and learn from,” Spencer said.

While the review team made observations in the classrooms, they used a protocol called eleot, which is a numbered scale given in seven different domains, including an equitable learning environment, high expectations environment, supportive learning environment, active learning environment, progress for monitoring and feedback environment, well-managed learning environment and digital learning environment.

Butler County Schools was graded higher than the AdvancED average in each domain.

“Your classrooms are above the average in every type of learning environment,” Spencer said. “You certainly should be commended.”

Some good news came from the team’s report on leadership capacity, which Bryan said she was eager to hear the results for.

“This is where we find some powerful practices,” Spencer said. “The first we have identified is the strong commitment to utilizing a district vision in all aspects of the work. The board, superintendent, principals, community and teachers are talking about a commitment to students in the school system.”

Spencer added that the system is all on one page with its strategic plan, identified its values and setting up a communication plan.

Additionally, the system was praised for its use of finding grants and other outside resources.

Getting to the part a large crowd showed up for at the meeting, Spencer laid out the results.

BCS received an overall IEQ score of 276.10 from the review team. The AE network average is 282.45.

In teaching and learning impact, the county system received a 258.10; in the leadership capacity domain, the system received a 308.33; and in resource utilization, the system received at 275.

“The external review ream recommends to the AdvancEd accreditation commission, that the Butler County School system earned the distinction of accreditation by AdvancED for a five-year term that expires June 30, 2019.”

Spencer said she has a lot of “admiration” for the work the system is doing.

“The fact that you have made a commitment to it is admirable,” she said. “It’s something I hope you continue to do.”

Bryan said she was particularly proud of the team’s assessment after observing 52 classrooms.

“That says a lot about your teaching and student engagement,” Bryan said.

Based on the accreditation, the team didn’t make any corrective actions that were required to the board.

The external review team comprised of three in-state members and two out-of-state members.

In other business, the board:

• accepted the resignations of Rebecca Saint Fort Jean as science teacher at Greenville High School; and Brenda Turner as secretary at Georgiana School.

• approved Bryan’s recommendation to look at bid results fro vans for child nutrition program; and,

• declared surplus property.