Pike County Schools earns accreditation

Published 10:59 pm Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pike County Schools earned accreditation from AdvancED, a member of the Northwest Accreditation Commission.
The results were released at a called school board meeting Wednesday afternoon. Superintendent Mark Bazzell was pleased with the results.
“It’s a feather in our cap to have this accreditation,” he said. “We’re certainly excited to have this.”
Accreditation is not a requirement for Alabama schools, but it was important to the Pike County Board of Education.
“It’s important that we hold ourselves to a standard of excellence and that’s what AdvancED represents,” said Bazzell.
The accreditation came after a three-day inspection by a review team comprised of professional educators with diverse experience. The team conducted 78 interviews with board members, administrators, teachers, parents and community business leaders. They also visited 49 classes, spending about 20 minutes in each.
Daniel Sybrant, director of AdvancED, said Pike County did exceptionally well, especially in equitable, supportive and active learning. The district’s use of technology was also above average.
“We’re not looking at what the teacher does,” Sybrant said. “We’re looking at student engagement. That score is usually between a 1.4 and 1.8 (based on a 4.0 scale). It was 2.3 here.”
Sybrant was impressed by the positive attitudes he encountered from teachers and the students’ manners and behavior.
Because Sybrant believes that even the best schools can be better, he said he always includes areas that could use some improvement. Pike County was given two “required actions” to improve.
The first suggestion was to develop a comprehensive, system-wide master plan to maintain facilities, services and equipment.
“All school districts can improve in this area,” Sybrant said. “We didn’t see inequity. All we’re saying is as they are moving forward, systematically look at needs.”
The second suggestion was to find more ways of using the data the school system uses and help teachers refer to the data and adjust lesson plans to address the individual needs of students.
“We’re impressed with the amount of data that is collected throughout the school system,” Sybrant said. “Learning how to use that data is really important and it takes a while to understand, create and implement a plan.”
Bazzell said the assessment was fair and he looked forward to implementing the suggestions.
“If you accept all the positive things they say about you, you certainly have to take a look at the possibility to improve areas,” he said.
This was the first time Pike County did a system-wide accreditation. In previous assessments, each individual school was critiqued and individually earned accreditation. Bazzell said the system-wide process was a bigger challenge.
“There has to be vertical alignment between what we’re trying to accomplish. It has to be consistent,” he said.
Several school administrators attended the meeting. Banks School Principal Lee Scott was proud of her faculty’s accomplishments. Banks was one of the five schools evaluated.
“They spoke with our teachers and students and even enjoyed our lunch,” Scott said. “I think we are doing a good job and it was revealed by this team.”

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