The Richmond County School System had its five-year accreditation officially renewed in June but was given a “warned status” from its accrediting body one month later for scoring low on some standards, according to documents obtained Wednesday by The Augusta Chronicle.
AdvancED awarded the district re-accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement in June after a review team toured the district in February and interviewed 86 administrators, 151 teachers, 100 students and others.
The review team scored the district on five standards and 35 indicators, of which the district received mostly scores of two out of four. The team issued four required actions on policies and procedures the district must address within two years to have its accredited warned status changed to accredited.
Jennifer Oliver, AdvancED vice president for communications, said the accrediting body drafted more rigorous standards last year and expected more districts to receive an advisement, warned or probation status than before. Of the 211 school districts up for accreditation or re-accreditation in 2012-13, 45 percent were advised, 20 percent were warned and 2 percent were given a probation status.
“That is a result of the higher expectations of the new standards,” Oliver said.
The district has two years to address the concerns, but can submit evidence of improvement to have the status changed earlier. Superintendent Frank Roberson said that process has already begun.
The four improvements required of the district are to better communicate its mission and vision, develop better long-term interaction with students, better evaluate existing programs and evaluate student data in a more consistent way.
Roberson said the district is placing its vision and mission statement in all written communication and having schools state their missions, too.
In July, Roberson’s cabinet developed a plan to analyze data monthly with principals and to keep track of where the district stands compared to 11 other districts.
He said he has also tasked guidance counselors to be more engaged with parents to improve on long-term relationships.
“We certainly do not want that tag attached to our classification, and we’re going to work quickly to have it removed,” Roberson said.
Roberson said he was surprised to get notification of the warned status in July, especially because the AdvancED review team released a complimentary report of the school system in February.
In it, the team indicated the district has built a culture of learning, is dedicated to the improvement of its teachers, has invested in renovation projects and has a leadership team that is committed to the district.