Monday, November 24, 2014

COBBS: OHS embraces accreditation

By RYAN COBBS, Ottawa High School | 10/21/2013

In order for Kansas schools to be recognized as accredited institutions they must go through an internal and external audit of their improvement plan, its implementation and its results. For the past five years Ottawa High School has utilized a model known as High Schools That Work to help us develop this improvement plan and work through its implementation.  

This year should be our audit year in which a determination about our school would be made. However, as the state has begun to work through the waiver process with No Child Left Behind they also took some time to begin the development of its own accreditation process. In turn the state has granted all currently accredited schools reprieve from this process until the state’s program is ready to be put into place.  

In order for Kansas schools to be recognized as accredited institutions they must go through an internal and external audit of their improvement plan, its implementation and its results. For the past five years Ottawa High School has utilized a model known as High Schools That Work to help us develop this improvement plan and work through its implementation.  

This year should be our audit year in which a determination about our school would be made. However, as the state has begun to work through the waiver process with No Child Left Behind they also took some time to begin the development of its own accreditation process. In turn the state has granted all currently accredited schools reprieve from this process until the state’s program is ready to be put into place.  

In working through our previous accreditation model [High Schools That Work], the staff at OHS and myself have determined that this model is not what is best for our needs at OHS. With the state’s model not set to be unveiled for use for another year at its earliest we have decided to move forward with an accreditation model that is researched, tested and approved by the State of Kansas for use. The AdvancEd model of improvement was approved by the Ottawa school board last Monday and will be set into action within our schools immediately.

In working with this, model OHS will be measured upon five standards which include the following:

 1. The school maintains and communicates a purpose and direction that commit to high expectations for learning as well as shared values and beliefs about teaching and learning.

 2. The school operates under governance and leadership that promote and support student performance and school effectiveness.

 3. The school’s curriculum instructional design and assessment practices guide and ensure teacher effectiveness and student learning.

 4. The school has resources and provides services that support its purpose and direction to ensure success for all students.

 5. The school implements a comprehensive assessment system that generates a range of data about student learning and school effectiveness and uses the results to guide continuous improvement.  

As we begin to implement the AdvancEd model this year there are several steps that we will need to go through to prepare for this process. The first step will be to conduct a self-assessment of our school. This will consist of our staff going through the AdvancEd rubric to determine where we believe we fall in each of the categories listed under the five standards. This process is meant to engage the staff in a true understanding of our strengths and weaknesses so that we can develop an improvement plan that will be effective and worthwhile.  

After we submit the self-assessment, our school improvement plan and our student performance results we will host an external review of our school. AdvancEd will identify a team of experienced peer educators who will come and spend time at Ottawa High School. This team will interview district leaders, administrators, teachers, parents, students and other relevant community members. Before they leave they will hold an exit conference with the leadership team to summarize their visit. It is then expected that we complete the required actions as identified by the external review team. When we meet those expectations AdvancEd will regard us as an accredited institution, which is good for five years.

The move to AdvancEd further exemplifies the focus of OHS to become an educational leader in Kansas high schools, an innovator in instruction for high school students and ultimately a school that focuses on a continued improvement for our students, school and community. We look forward to this process and embrace the opportunity to truly improve what we do on a daily basis.

Dr. Ryan Cobbs is principal at Ottawa High School. Email him at cobbsr@usd290.org or call (785) 229-8020.

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