Buncombe County Schools (BCS) is privileged to be a member of AdvancED, which is the world’s largest education community, representing over 23,000 public and private schools in 30 states and 65 countries. AdvancEd provides tools and structures for schools and school districts to improve student performance.
BCS was among the first to participate in district accreditation in 2006. This continuous improvement process occurs every 5 years and BCS is now preparing for district re-accreditation.
District Accreditation focuses on 3 important areas: high standards, continuous improvement, and quality assurance to the entire school district. It is our duty to ensure there is alignment and support between the school district and all of its schools. BCS believes it is imperative to operate as one school system rather than a system of 42 individual schools. Stakeholders tell us it is essential for their children to attend schools with national accreditation. It is comforting to families to know their schools are accountable, have systems in place for continuous improvement, and are committed to raising student performance. These are confirmed through the work of AdvancED.
What does reacreditation look like for BCS?
Every 5 years, sooner if necessary, BCS rewrites our strategic plan with strategies, timelines and measurable goals. As part of this process we revisit our educational priorities exemplified through our district mission, vision and belief statements. We have completed this three month project and updated these guiding statements that will lead BCS for the next 5 years. In addition to gathering input on these statements at many stakeholder meetings, this year we used our School Messenger System to survey all parents and employees. As a result of the 5000 plus responses, our draft statements were adapted to include suggestions from our stakeholders. The final mission, vision and belief statements were approved by the BCS Board of Education on November 3, 2011 and are posted on our district website.
What’s next in this process?
District accreditation is an ongoing process of meeting 7 national standards, continuous improvement and quality assurance demonstrated through an internal review and an external review. As part of the internal appraisal, staff members continuously assess the standards are being met while identifying areas that need to be strengthened. This review assists the school system identify data, information, evidence and documented results to validate meeting each standard:
1. Vision and Purpose
2. Governance and Leadership
3. Teaching and Learning
4. Documenting and Using Results
5. Resources and Support Systems
6. Stakeholder Communications and Relationships
7. Commitment to Continuous Improvement
Currently there are 7 comprehensive committees completing the internal review for standards listed above. In April, a team of professional educators, from NC as well as other US school districts, will visit BCS and complete an external quality assurance review. During this visit, the team will interview stakeholders, visit schools, and review documentation to determine if BCS is awarded District Re-accreditation. An exit report will be shared on April 25th at a public board meeting.
This is an exciting time for BCS. This process affords us the opportunity to participate in an internal and external review process that solidifies what we are doing well and what improvements can be made to further continuous improvement in our school system.