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Column: District 518 shares accreditation results

District 518

WORTHINGTON -- District 518 recently hosted an external review of all aspects of the district to continue to hold its accreditation status. Accreditation is a voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by the American University and Secondary Schools, and designed primarily to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards. Today the accreditation process is used at all levels of education, and is recognized for its ability to effectively drive student performance and continuous improvement in education.

A team of five people from Minnesota, South Dakota and North Carolina visited Prairie Elementary, Worthington Middle School, Worthington High School and West Learning Center from March 18-20. There were 63 teachers and support staff, seven school board members, all administrators and three parents interviewed by the review team. Contact was made with 122 students. The review team also spent time visiting classrooms. They spent approximately 15-20 minutes in a classroom and visited 71 classrooms.

During the interviews, people were asked questions about the five criteria identified by AdvancED, and on which the accreditation status is based. The review team observed for these same criteria during their classroom walkthrough observations.

The five criteria and their score, based on 1-4 scale, (4 being the highest). The ratings were:

* Purpose and direction 2.50

* Governance and leadership 3.00

* Teaching and assessing for learning 2.58

* Resources and support systems 3.38

* Using results for continuous improvement 2.60

In an oral exit report to the school board, the team listed three "powerful practices" notable as district strengths. These areas of strength are dedicating weekly time for teachers to participate in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), the recent development of a new mission, vision and strategic plan, and fiscal prudence.

The oral report also listed three required actions on behalf of the district as a school improvement effort. The required actions are to develop an accountability system, develop, implement and evaluate a systemic district-wide professional development plan, and create district-wide expectations based on best teaching practices.

The review team also commended the district on the hospitality, support and professionalism demonstrated by all students, staff and parents. The district will receive a written report and accreditation recommendation from AdvancED in 30 days.

Katie Clarke is the coordinator of curriculum and instruction for District 518.