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Dot your ‘i’s, cross the ‘t’s

School gears up for accreditation visit

Gothenburg Public School administrators and staff are getting ready for an intense 72 hours when an outside accreditation team visits the campus Feb. 20-22.

On the agenda is how the district meets seven student-school improvement standards.

Those standards, and information about the visit, were revealed to Stakeholders on Feb. 1 in the high school media center.

Stakeholders are community members who are invited to hear about various educational topics and share what they learn with at least three other people.

High school principal Randy Evans led the discussion, noting that most everyone in the school is involved, including students, as well as representatives from the business community.

The five-member accreditation team, from Wesleyan University, Millard and North Platte high schools and from Minnesota, will interview different groups.

In the past, Dudley Elementary and the junior-senior high school have been accredited separately.

This is the first time the district, as a whole, seeks advanced accreditation through Advancing Excellence in Education Worldwide, he said.

Evans shared the seven improvement standards with Stakeholders which include:

establishing and communicating a shared purpose and direction for improving the performance of students and the effectiveness of the school.

The principal said this means such things as getting students to graduate and attend school, both above the state average.

providing governance and leadership that promote student performance and school effectiveness.

Evans noted that they work with at-risk and high-ability learners and students in between. Board members and administrators also have yearly retreats.

providing research-based curriculum and instructional methods that facilitate achievement for all students.

The school’s curriculum, is aligned to the state NsEA (Nebraska State Accountability) test, he said, and students take comprehensive tests. College students are also asked for curriculum suggestions.

enacting an assessment system that monitors and documents performance, using the results to improve student performance and school effectiveness.

Evans said students are tested throughout the year and results are used to gauge areas that need improvement and those that are strong.

having the resources and services to support the school’s vision and purpose and to ensure achievement for all students.

Qualified and ample staff and up-to-date technology are a big part of this standard, Evans said.

fostering effective communications and relationships with and among its stakeholders.

Evans mentioned several ways the school reaches out to the community such as a back-to-school open house, a phone system that calls parents with messages, a school website, a Helping Hands organization that assists children with needs, Stakeholders and more.

establishing, implementing and monitoring a continuous process of improvement that focuses on student improvement.

Evans said they will continue to look at ways to improve learning.

If the district receives advanced accreditation, it will be one of only 18 districts in Nebraska that has it, according to District 20 superintendent Mike Teahon.

Stakeholders also discussed topics for meetings that included ways the community can be more involved with the district, extracurricular activities, building plans for the district and the exit accreditation report.

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