For the first time in the history of the Jackson County School System, at the request of the Jackson County School Board, a system wide accreditation evaluation is underway. A certified panel of accreditation officials was busy conducting inspections, interviews, and evaluations throughout the local system during this entire week. The members of this panel were from as nearby as Panama City, and from as far away as North Carolina.
This prestigious accreditation recognition is administered through an international accreditation system called "Advanced Ed". In the past, Jackson County has had individual schools accredited, but this process has never advanced to the District level. With all of our schools now accredited, this is the first attempt at getting the entire District accredited. Through earning this designation the school system will become eligible for a broader spectrum of grant funding. Additionally, having this designation is important to many teachers and parents as they make school and career related decisions.
The first day of the visiting team's work involved explaining the process to local professionals, interviews with principals and key staff members, and parents. Evaluation of performance in five standards which are utilized in the assessment was also given great emphasis.
Next, The process included a "town hall" type meeting with a group of school volunteers, parents, and members of the local community. From this meeting they evaluated the degree of local, outside involvement, the relationships with parents and community maintained at the school level and the School Board level. They explored such areas as open mindedness, a spirit of cooperation and welcome for outside volunteers, and a willingness to listen and accept ideas. At one point they asked what the general student, parent, and community acceptance had been for the new dress code/uniform policies.
They asked for ideas of improvements. This led to a discussion for the need for earlier entry into Spanish language instructions. The continuing emphasis and growth of the "dual enrollment" programs was encouraged.
On Wednesday the assessment team visited six different schools and conducted interviews and assessments. Also meetings with School Board Members and the Schools Superintendent were conducted. Thursday was spent primarily with the team performing internal assessments, and coordination on the final evaluation and report preparation. On Friday the report and findings were presented.