By CARL SMITH
Following days of interviews, data analysis and on-site visits, a quality assurance review team will recommend a “quality school system” designation for Starkville School District to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission.
The team presented district administrators with its recommendation Wednesday during a special school board meeting, along with four commendations and two required actions.
The most glowing review, however, came from a personal comment made by QAR team spokesman Ray Poplus.
“As a parent, I’d send my kids (to Starkville School District) in a heartbeat,” Poplus said during the exit conference.
Commendations, Poplus said, are significant accomplishments in meeting or exceeding accreditation standards, while required actions are suggestions made by reviewers which will enhance district effectiveness and improve student learning.
The team commended SSD for its strong relationships developed with students, parents; the strong relationships developed with stakeholders and the Starkville community; the plethora of programs and experiences offered which develop students’ needs, interests and abilities; and the vast array of resources and support services available to students to meet their academic, social and emotional needs.
“I saw lots of good things in the Starkville School District, from the variety of programs and range of course work, all the way through advanced placement courses and dual enrollment for college credits,” Poplus said. “Another factor goes beyond the curriculum itself. The feeling is the learning environment is emotionally and physically safe.”
The QAR team’s required actions include launching a comprehensive, districtwide process to monitor, evaluate and report the effectiveness of improvement strategies, programs and initiatives; and developing long-range plans which are vision-supported and data-driven for technology, facilities and professional development.
Assistant Superintendent Beth Sewell said district administrators began discussing similar policies and initiatives prior to the QAR team’s visit. The district can easily adhere to the advised policies, she said.
SSD is scheduled to receive a written report on the QAR team’s findings within 30 days. After receipt, the district is expected to review the findings, address the required actions, monitor ongoing accreditation standards and improvement efforts, and submit an accreditation progress report. AdvancED could approve the QAR team’s recommendation in June.
“We feel very positive about our recommendation,” Poplus said.
Once reviewed and approved by the commission, the district is granted a five-year accreditation term.
Board President Keith Coble said the recommendation is reaffirming to all of the hard work put in by SSD employees.
“You get as much of a picture out of preparing for the review process with data collection and assessments as you do from the review itself. Now is the appropriate time to step back and acknowledge where we are as a school district,” Coble said.