Celebration! Norris recommended for AdvancED District Accreditation

Celebration! Norris recommended for AdvancED District Accreditation

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Norris District has completed its inaugural district-level accreditation review, moving from building-by-building accreditation to the more rigorous and systematic expectations of district-level, systems accreditation.  The AdvancED organization is a global school accreditation agency that reviews thousands of districts in the United States and overseas. The district has received “recommendation for accreditation” by the review team, a major accomplishment in formal quality control and continuous improvement efforts.

A Special Board meeting was held at 4 pm Wednesday, September 18th in the Norris Auditorium to receive the report of the External Team’s accreditation review.  Five visiting educators spent over three days of intensive review of the district, scrutinizing district documents, interviewing stakeholders, and observing teachers.  The five visiting educators included two out-of-state experts – one from Arizona and one from Wyoming – in addition to educational leaders from the Nebraska Department of Education, the Bellevue Public Schools (district facilitator), and the Waverly School District (high school principal).

The review team thanked Norris for hosting and Board President Patty Bentzinger and Superintendent Dr. John Skretta expressed gratitude to the review team for their efforts at the Wednesday afternoon meeting where the report was delivered.  

The team conducted a thorough review that included 151 formal interviews and 50 extended classroom observations, including parents, students, support staff members, certificated staff, administration and Board of Education.

Findings of the review, at-a-glance:

Learning environment ratings:
Observations by the team found strong instructional practice evident throughout classrooms observed. The team found overall high levels of student engagement and interaction, and a strong emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving in classrooms.

Powerful practices, pages 4 & 5 (things that make us great and we should sustain):
A powerful practice is an area the team identified where the Norris district is a model of exemplary accomplishments that other districts who want to learn more about best practice in these areas should look to.

*Sustained commitment to values creating a family-like atmosphere.
*Governing body (Board of Education) understands roles and responsibilities to support district leadership.
*Inclusiveness: Staff everywhere are advocates for and build relationships with all students.
*RtI: response to intervention process to assist all learners.
*Exemplary financial stewardship.
*Promotion of healthy lifestyles.

Required actions (these areas will determine continuous improvement/school improvement initiatives for the next five-year cycle):
*Engage in long-range planning, a necessity in a time of growth
*Further formalize the School Improvement process, putting protocols and procedures in writing
*Continue work in curriculum alignment, making transparent all course objectives in all areas, at all levels
*Continue work on refining district assessment system, further delineating role of classroom-based assessment with the standardized assessments (MAP, NeSA)

A scan of the Exit Report from the External Review Team for the AdvancED district accreditation review is attached.  The formal, narrative exit report and more detailed explanation will follow from the team in the coming months, and their accreditation recommendation will be reviewed by the Accreditation Commission of AdvancED in January, 2014.