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School System Receives International Accreditation
Posted 3/10/17

AdvancED team praises leadership capacity, strategic planning, & community outreach
Bulloch County Schools has received international accreditation from AdvancED for another five-year term. The announcement was made March 8, during a called Board of Education meeting where an AdvancED external review presented its summary report. The district will receive a full report in six weeks. 


“You are on the brink of doing incredible things,” said John Sedey of St. Paul, Minnesota, the lead evaluator for the six-member external review team who visited the district March 5-9. “You have the right people and pieces in place.”  


“What we received from the accreditation report is a testimony to what Bulloch County Schools has become,” said Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson. “This is a continuous improvement journey toward excellence to give our students what they need and deserve. We are transforming, and I thank each of our employees as well as our community members, who have reached out and come along side of us.”


Sedey and his team evaluated the school system based on a set of five standards and two diagnostics. The district’s overall rating of 280.9, is slightly higher than AdvancED’s network average of 278.03 for other accredited systems worldwide. Bulloch County Schools’ leadership capacity (319.44) and resource utilization (302.08) scores far exceeded AdvancED’s respective network averages of 292.76 and 284.48. The district’s teaching and learning impact score of 250.79 is lower than the network’s average of 267.91. 


Sedey quickly pointed out that teaching and learning is an area where the team felt actions were in place and the district was poised to make improvements happen, particularly with its work in creating a guaranteed and viable curriculum across all schools. “You don’t have problems, you have challenges,” Seday said. The external review process is not a “gotcha” but a means to stimulate and guide continuous improvement.


In Sedey’s 30-minute presentation to the Board, school system employees and community members, he highlighted three areas as “powerful practices,” three “priority improvements,” and two “opportunities for improvement.”  


“We are not required to provide systems with any powerful practices, but we are leaving you with three,” Seday said.  “These are things we think you are doing just about better than anyone.”


Powerful Practices
•    Bulloch County Schools engages in a comprehensive and inclusive strategic planning and resource management process. 
•    Bulloch County Schools engages families and community in a variety of ways to provide multiple opportunities for input, information, and participation as partners in the education of their children.
•    Bulloch County School System has implemented an exemplary culture of collaboration through professional learning communities that is consistent with the district’s purpose and direction.


The AdvancEd team is required to give school districts at least one priority improvement. They provided Bulloch County Schools with three. The school system has two years to work on these identified priorities and submit an accreditation progress report in order to keep its accreditation status. It’s worthy of note that in the district’s 2011 accreditation process, strategic planning was a priority improvement area, and in five years, the school system and community have now made strategic planning a powerful practice.


Priority Improvements
•    Implement a comprehensive, vertically aligned, and monitored curriculum that ensures equitable and challenging learning experiences for all students and prepares them for success at the next level.
•    Expand the induction and mentoring program to ensure that teachers and leaders have comprehensive support to implement the system’s instructional process.
•    Implement a coordinated system to ensure that all professional and instructional support staff are trained in the interpretation and use of data to impact instruction.


“Continuous improvement is a journey, and we are well positioned to address these things,” said Superintendent Charles Wilson. “The AdvancED team reinforced and validated the areas of needed improvement we had already identified in our self-evaluation process. 


The AdvancED team is not required to give districts suggested opportunities for improvement, but it did provide two.  The district may use these to guide its efforts, but is not required to report back on these items as with the Priority Improvements.

Opportunity for Improvement
•    Design and evaluate a formal structure where each student is well known by at least one adult advocate in the school who supports his/her educational experience.
•    Implement and regularly evaluate the consistent use of district grading and reporting policies, processes and procedures at all schools, across grade levels and courses.


For more than two years Bulloch County Schools' administrators planned, gathered evidence and conducted a thorough self-evaluation process in preparation for the external review team’s visit. 

To evaluate the system, the AdvancED team reviewed a 60-page


Accreditation Report and supporting evidence compiled by a team of Bulloch County Schools’ faculty and administrators. They heard briefings about the system and its work in each of the standards and diagnostic areas.  They conducted focus groups and one-on-one interviews with a total of 237 Bulloch County stakeholders, including Board members (7), administrators (30), support staff (18) faculty (81), parents (20), students (72) and other local citizens (9). “This was quite a large number for a site visit,” Seday said. They also toured seven of the district’s 15 schools and visited 60 classrooms.  


AdvancED,  a nonprofit, non-partisan organization, is recognized as a global leader in providing continuous improvement and accreditation services to over 32,000 institutions serving 20 million students worldwide. The accreditation process adds another level of accountability to the school system. In Georgia, school systems must maintain accreditation in order for their students to be eligible to receive HOPE scholarships. 

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Available AdvancED Process Resources