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Richmond County schools recommended for re-accreditation

Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 7:19 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 2:29 AM
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The Richmond County School System has built a culture of learning that supports student achievement and is dedicated to the continuous improvement of its teachers, according to an external review team in town to evaluate the district for re-accreditation.

After a four-day tour, which involved interviewing about 500 teachers, parents, employees and stakeholders, the AdvancED review team recommended Richmond County be re-accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement when the national board meets in June.

“This is a culture of learning, and they really have put a focus on improvement despite challenges they’ve been facing,” said lead evaluator James Brown, a retired deputy superintendent from Tallahassee, Fla.

The district will receive a more in-depth and detailed report of the team’s findings in 30 days, and now must begin addressing the required actions. If approved in June, the accreditation will stand for five years.

Among its findings, the team also commended the district for its building and renovation projects that “show a systematic approach” to modernizing the school system.

Brown said the school board and superintendent form a government team “that is viewed by stakeholders as being committed to and supportive of the district’s vision, mission and beliefs.”

During their stay, the 10-member team evaluated standards and Web sites, technology; observed learning environments; and interviewed administrators, teachers, parents, students and stakeholders. The team members were comprised of teachers and administrators from Georgia to Wyoming.

The team also identified areas that need improvement, especially in reaching students with physical, social and emotional needs.

Brown said the district should provide more consistent services to this population to improve education and career planning.

“We realize you do all of these things,” Brown said. “You do meet the needs, but we did not see it being done on a constant basis.”

Brown also said there are some technological inequalities. Title I schools in Richmond County, which serve economically disadvantaged students, receive federal money to buy computers and other kinds of technology.

Brown said his team found the non-Title I schools had less technology and should be made a priority.

His team also outlined four required actions the district must take: revise and communicate the system’s mission and vision on an annual basis, revisit policies and leadership practices to make sure they are systematically implemented, improve long-term interaction with individual students and develop regular evaluative procedures.

Carol Rountree, the executive director of student services, said she was encouraged by the team’s feedback and looking forward to continuing to move the district in a positive direction.

She said she hopes to focus more on students with physical and emotional needs as the team pointed out, but that would require additional funding or another way to hire more counselors.

“Until we can add to our support staff, we’re going to be seen as minimally meeting the need,” Rountree said. “But you could see our commitment to quality education and … making a positive culture even in light of all the challenges.”

Board of Education President Venus Cain said with the team’s recommendation for re-accreditation, she hoped everyone in the system will help move the district to greater success.

“My charge to you is ‘Let’s go out there and make it happen,” she said. “I’m at the point now by any means necessary do we have to move this system forward.”

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Riverman1 02/06/13 - 09:07 pm
Congratulations. It's a large

Congratulations. It's a large school system with its share of difficulties, but it appears the administration is committed.

bumblebeerose 02/07/13 - 05:27 am
Teachers that Alter Grades

Now that the RCBOE has passed this test. How about trying to stop the teachers from altering students grades just so they pass and move on to the next grade. I have proof that this has been done and have told the school board and they do not care. I sent an email to the superintendent and members of the school board ( I got a response from two board members but was told they could do anything) I got no response from the rest of them, nobody cares about the student!!!!!!

avidreader 02/07/13 - 06:25 am
To BBrose

Your commentary is extremely vague. Are you speaking of standardized testing or simply a teacher's daily gradebook? To alter state-mandated tests is a crime. To alter a daily gradebook is a teacher's prerogative, a decision made in good conscience. If I have a student that starts the school year with two poor quarterly grades and then blossoms during the second semester, should I let this kid fail for the year knowing that he is prepared to move on to the next grade level? I am not opposed to holding a child back, but my educational skills are such that I can dutifully make the moral decision.

Please let me know what you think. I'm always up for improvement.

bumblebeerose 02/07/13 - 10:12 am
To Avidreader

I am talking about the daily grades. I have seen where the student failed the first nine weeks with a 50 average and the second nine weeks the students grade was a 40 average and the teacher altered the grade so the student would pass. The third nine weeks the student was going to fail again and the teacher also altered that grade so the student would pass.

I understand what you are saying about the students that show improvement and prove they are learning and can show it in the work they are doing. My problem is the ones that are showing no improvement at all and are not even showing it in the work they are doing. Now the student is in the next grade and still failing that same class and more. How do you handle these, this student is going to move on in life and not know how to do the things that are important to go on to college or tech school. They will not be able to pass an entrance test to college or tech school with out having to take remedial classes before they can take their core classes.

Please give me any input that you have on this. I just feel like this student is headed in a direction that is getting to late to fix it and I do not know what to do. For me this is teaching the student they do not have to work for anything it will all be handed to them.

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