Phenix City Public Schools gets high ratings, recommended for renewed accreditation

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 19, 2014 

Logan Hunt, 10, discusses the Alabama historic marker about the June 1954 assassination of Albert Love Patterson in Phenix City, with his fourth-grade classmates at Lakewood Elementary. Then the Democratic nominee for state attorney general, Patterson was killed for his pursuit to clean up the corruption and gambling that gripped the city. Hunt's assignment was part of his social studies unit on Alabama history. His teacher, Vernice McSwain, tasked her students with finding at least five historic markers in the area, then photograph the marker and write a 12-sentence paragraph to highlight the historical event. The class found more than 100 historic in local Russell and Lee County area. 02.13.14

PHOTO BY ROBIN TRIMARCHI — rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

The Phenix City Public Schools has earned what are considered high ratings from an external review team and is being recommended for another five-year accreditation.

Jay Wansley, associate director of the AdvancEd Georgia office, based in Kennesaw, Ga., led the six-member review team, which presented its exit report to the Phenix City Board of Education during a called meeting Wednesday.

On a scale of 1 to 4, Phenix City received the following learning environment ratings:

• Equitable: 2.62

• High expectations: 2.85

• Supportive: 3.08

• Active: 3.13

• Progress monitoring and feedback: 2.95

• Well-managed: 3.13

• Digital: 2.05

On a scale of 100 to 400, Phenix City received the following scores:

• Index of educational quality: 266

• Teaching and learning impact: 267

• Leadership capacity: 250

• Resource utilization: 288

AdvancEd has changed its rating system, so this review can't be compared to the one five years ago.

The review listed "powerful practices" it saw in Phenix City:

• The system maintains a safe and orderly environment for all students and staff.

• The change in the budgeting process allows school-based administrators more autonomy to allocate resources to areas of need.

• Despite a sudden change in the superintendent's position, the district accelerated its focus on teaching and learning.

The review team also listed required actions for the system:

• Provide opportunities for stakeholder participation in the selection process for the new superintendent.

• Develop and implement protocols and procedures to ensure that all professional and support staff are trained in a rigorous professional development program related to collecting, analyzing, interpreting and applying information from all data sources.

The AdvancEd Accreditation Commission will make the blessing official during its June 25 meeting, Wansley said.

"Right now, you can say you're accredited," he told the board room's packed crowd. "… Please communicate that message out. You're doing great things here."

AdvancEd bills itself as the world's largest education community, serving more than 30,000 public and private schools and districts in the United States and more than 70 other countries. Accreditation is a significant stamp of approval. It gives a school system's students greater access to educational opportunities, such as eligibility for admission to colleges and universities, scholarships, federal loans and military programs.

The review team comprises professional educators from other school systems. Team members spent parts of four days in Phenix City and conducted 228 interviews, including 89 with students and 48 with parents, and observed instruction in 55 classrooms, according to the report.

In a written statement released after the meeting, board president Brad Baker said, "The Phenix City Board of Education is very pleased with the findings of the AdvancedED report. We firmly believe the long history of success in the Phenix City School System can be credited to the work of high quality teachers and staff serving our children and the support from our community. The new leadership, though in place only a few months, has reinvigorated our school system and put our focus where it should be, to give our students a world class education that will enable them to fulfill their dreams -- that is why we are here.

"While the AdvancED Team was very complimentary, there are opportunities for improvement. We do not want to just sustain but to build on our successes. We will pursue excellence in all areas and as a school board, as we get BETTER EVERY DAY."

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