Assistant Superintendent explains final three SACS standards
By: Ralph Bennett
(assistant superintendent for teaching and learning)
Studies of school systems suggest that effective systems engage in similar practices that greatly contribute to their success. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council for Accreditation and School Improvement, better known as SACS, has used this research to develop the standards of operation for systems. This last article in the series on the SACS district standards provides a summary of the last three of the seven standards.
Standard 5, "Resource and Support Systems," states, “The system has the resources and services necessary to support its vision and purpose and to ensure achievement for all students.” Several activities serve as indicators of compliance for Standard 5. The school system identified as “highly functional,” the highest rating given by SACS, effectively uses all of its resources to support a curriculum that helps all students to achieve and exceed expectations for student learning. Fair distribution of resources throughout the school system provides support for the special needs of all students and support for compliance with regulations related to special students. The highly functional school system employs staff members who are well qualified for their assignments in all content areas. The system provides and fully supports ongoing opportunities for all staff members to improve their effectiveness. The system makes certain that the system and its schools follow all relevant local, state and federal regulations.
Standard 6, "Stakeholder Communications & Relationships," states, “The system fosters effective communications and relationships with and among its stakeholders.” A stakeholder is defined as anyone who has a vested interest in the success of the school system. Indicators of compliance for Standard 6 focus on the understanding and participation of parents, teachers and community members in the system improvement process. The highly functional school system has the understanding, commitment, and support of everyone who has a vested interest in the success of the school system. System and school personnel actively promote and provide regular, formal opportunities for collaboration and shared leadership among all stakeholders to help students learn and advance improvement efforts. The system can demonstrate a high level of meaningful participation by most stakeholder groups.
Standard 7, "Commitment to Continuous Improvement," states, “The system establishes, implements, and monitors a continuous process of improvement that focuses on student performance.” Indicators for Standard 7 center on the system’s process for improvement. The highly functional school system fully implements collaborative and ongoing processes for improvement that align all functions of the system and its schools with the expectations for student learning. Improvement efforts are systemic, sustained, and fully embedded. The system demonstrates significant progress in improving student performance as well as system and school effectiveness. New improvement efforts are clearly informed by the documented results of earlier efforts through reflection and assessment of a highly sustained, continuous process of improvement.
A five-member team composed of five educators from Georgia, Florida and South Carolina will arrive in Madison on Sunday, March 1, to begin a four-day review of the implementation of the seven SACS district standards in the Morgan County School System. During their visit, team members will be involved in a number of activities to advise their final recommendations for the school system. On the fourth day, Wednesday, March 4, team members will develop and share a preliminary report of the findings from their visit. The SACS visiting team preliminary report will be presented in summary at a called board meeting, open to the public, on March 4 at 2 p.m. in the board meeting room.
Printed in the February 26, 2009 edition.