Cobb School Board to discuss changes to its accreditation
by Hannah Morgan
October 08, 2013 11:43 PM | 3425 views | 1 1 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb’s school board will throw all options on the table today as it looks to assess the district’s school accreditation services, which could result in dumping SACS, the current overseer of the process.

Board member Kathleen Angelucci requested the discussion be added to the agenda for today’s work session, which will be at 514 Glover St., Marietta, at 8:30 a.m.

The district pays $625 per school each year to keep its current accreditation agency, which will last to June 2015, said Jennifer Oliver, the vice president for communications for The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS.

Cobb County School District is evaluated by SACS every five years, although the district completes annual reports for the system, said Amy Krause, the chief academic officer for the Cobb County School District.

SACS is an unelected, nongovernmental agency that accredits more than 33,000 schools around the world, and more than 2,000 schools in Georgia.

School districts strive to be accredited so their students can transfer their credits between school districts, and to ensure school districts are meeting a high level of quality learning experiences.

SACS evaluates schools and districts against five standards, including government and leadership, vision and purpose, teaching and learning, results for continuing improvement and resources and support systems within school systems, Oliver said.

A school system’s accreditation is, “a mark of approval from the outside,” she added.

But the knock on SACS is that it can be seen as working to undermine the local authority of elected school board members.

And there are other options available. The board could elect to go with another agency, or lobby the state to create its own accreditation agency.

The latter route has been taken by Texas, North Carolina and Virginia.

In Texas, the state looks at each school’s scores on the state tests, graduation rates, attendance and completion rates, and determines whether or not a school meets the state’s accreditation standards, said Debbie Ratcliffe, the director of media relations for the Texas Education Agency.

“I guess we never felt the need,” to adopt another accreditation system, she said, because colleges and universities “trust our rating.”

School accreditation plays a major role in applying for enrollment in colleges and universities across the country.

Colleges know how to handle students that come from non-accredited high schools and home schools, Ratcliffe said.

“Colleges look at SAT/ACT scores, extracurriculars … etc.,” said Charles Pyle, the director of communications for the Virginia Department of Education, and not only a school’s accreditation.

Virginia has not considered using a private accreditation agency, like SACS, he said, because Virginia students meet exceptionally high standards at the state-accredited schools.

Cobb County School District, as well as Gwinnett School District, Forsyth, Fulton, Marietta City, DeKalb, Clayton, Fayette, Cherokee County and Atlanta Public School high schools are all accredited with SACS.

“It’s within every school system’s right to get accreditation from whatever source they like,” said Oliver.

If Cobb County decides to not continue with SACS, it could find another accreditation agency to work with.

The Georgia Accrediting Commission has been accrediting high schools in the state since July 1903, said Robert Boyd, a consultant for GAC.

The Georgia Accrediting Commission provides accreditation for districts within the state, like elementary and middle schools in Atlanta Public School System, and Clayton County, Henry County and Fayette County schools, said Krause.

Similar to SACS, the GAC evaluates schools against its own set of standards, which is accepted by colleges across the country, said Boyd.

“It’s a public acceptance; people feel a little better, if their schools have measured up to certain standards,” Boyd said. “SACS looks at the administration, at the system. We look at each individual school.”

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October 09, 2013
The state has done such a great job with education so far, we're 49th in many areas of P-12 education. Why not develop our own accreditation group? Why not drop Common Core which strives to increase critical thinking of our state's children? Why not let our disfunctional board members have more authority? Sounds like a great plan for a state that is doing so well.
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