The St. Johns County School District has received a recommendation that it be awarded district accreditation as a quality school system. This recommendation was made by the AdvancED External Review Team at a special School Board meeting held April 10.
District accreditation is the highest level of accreditation that a school system can receive from AdvancED, the recognized accrediting agency for K-12 schools internationally. Five years ago, the district received its initial accreditation. Prior to this, all St. Johns County schools were individually accredited.
The External Review Team’s report commended the district for its powerful practices which included its focus on the strategic plan; responsible and effective leadership through the School Board; being committed to a culture that is consistent with the district’s mission and vision, engagement of stakeholders on the system’s purpose and direction; instituting a process to recruit, employ and retain highly effective professional and support staff; focusing on areas defined by the strategic plan that are long-range, dynamic and help to guide resource allocations; having a strong commitment to continuously collect, apply and analyze data sources to support learning; and monitoring and communicating information about student learning, school performance and the achievement of system and school improvement goals to stakeholders.
“The observances of the External Review Team, under the leadership of Dr. George Griffin, are a wonderful affirmation of the hard work and dedication that is shown throughout our district,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “I am extremely grateful to the School Board members, principals, district staff, teachers, parents and community members who participated in this process. Their work in this accomplishment is a true testament to our culture of working together to achieve success whether in the classroom or the community.”
In the area of recommendations for improvement, the team made the following suggestions:
- Establish consistent use of high-yield instructional strategies, high expectations of students, and level of rigor across the district.
- Design and evaluate structures in all schools whereby each student is well known by at least one adult advocate in the student’s school who supports that student’s educational experience.
- Implement a comprehensive plan to provide uniform training for professional and support staff on the interpretation and use of data to improve student learning and inform instruction.
A written report of the team’s findings and observations will be sent to the Superintendent within 30 days. The district is then expected to communicate the information contained in the report, initiate steps to address the recommendations, and continue its efforts toward continuous improvement.
The school district has spent several months preparing for accreditation. Last spring, a District Accreditation Leadership Team was established to conduct the guided self-study. The team focused on how departments and schools work cooperatively to support continuous improvement, with student achievement identified as the number one goal.
Employees collected data and relayed information on the five areas being evaluated: Purpose and Direction, Governance and Leadership, Teaching and Assessing for Learning, Resources and Support Systems, and Using Results for Continuous Improvement.
In order to be eligible to apply for district accreditation, every school in the district has to be individually accredited and the district has to have in place a quality strategic planning process focusing on improving student learning. In addition, districts must meet accreditation standards, pursue a process of systematic continuous improvement and implement methods for quality assurance.
Further information can be found at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/accreditation on the district’s website.