2018 AdvancED Accreditation Report
After months of preparation and self-evaluation, as well as three days of extensive review by outside evaluators, the Franklin Special School District received a glowing review and has been notified of continued accreditation from AdvancED, one of the most esteemed education accrediting agencies in the nation. The AdvancED Review Team observed classrooms in all FSSD schools, met with hundreds of stakeholders, and reviewed many artifacts and other forms of documentation during its visit in April 2018.
During the Engagement Review Team’s visit to FSSD, 53 classroom observations were conducted using the Effective Learning Environments Observation Tool (eleot). When eleots are conducted, the observer focuses on the students and remains in the classroom for a minimum of 20 minutes to ensure enough evidence is gathered to accurately rate the seven environments scored, which are listed below. Information from these observations is used to help identify strengths and potential areas to improve. These environments are scored using a 4-point scale from Not Observed (1) to Very Evident (4).
- Equitable Learning: 3.25
- High Expectations: 3.26
- Supportive Learning: 3.69
- Active Learning: 3.25
- Progress Monitoring and Feedback: 3.09
- Well Managed: 3.61
- Digital Learning: 1.84
Additionally, the Review Team shared what it found to be “Powerful Practices.” According to the report, “Powerful Practices reflect noteworthy observations and actions that have yielded clear results in student achievement or organizational effectiveness and are actions that exceed what is typically observed or expected in an institution.” In short, a Powerful Practice is “something” the system is doing very well and at a high level. There were 5 Powerful Practices identified in the FSSD:
1. The Board of Education (BOE) of the Franklin Special School District has established and ensures adherence to a code of ethics and board policies, which protect, support and respect the autonomy of the system and school leadership to accomplish the goals set forth for the system.
2. The leadership of Franklin Special School District has effectively implemented outstanding practices in support of excellence in teaching and learning.
3. The Franklin Special School District has systematically and systemically developed and implemented an exemplary curriculum that is aligned to the Tennessee Academic Standards and best practices.
4. The Franklin Special School District has developed an exemplary process to attract, recruit and retain qualified personnel who are supported through its induction, mentoring and coaching programs.
5. Franklin Special School District allocates and proactively manages human, material and fiscal resources to support system needs and priorities both in the present and long-term in order to ensure high levels of student performance.
While the exit report was highly complimentary, the whole process is intended to provide school districts with additional ways they can improve. The Review Team and district leaders identified two opportunities for improvement and one improvement priority:
• Establish and nurture a learning culture for students that engages and promotes project-based learning, collaborative problem-solving and inquiry learning to develop students’ critical thinking and self-reflection. (Opportunity)
• Develop and implement opportunities for differentiated instruction on a regular and frequent basis within classrooms to address the needs and interests of individual learners. (Opportunity)
• Design, implement and monitor a comprehensive student advocacy program that provides consistent advisory, mentorship, support and career planning for every student across the school system. (Priority)
According to the report, several items were mentioned as significant strengths:
- The Response to Intervention (RtI) strategies provided targeted support for the critical developmental of identified students.
- Parents and students praised the quality of communication efforts of leadership and staff.
- Collaborative efforts between parents, schools and community supported the “Nook” and other initiatives that provided for the needs of students and families.
- The use of technology increased opportunities for learning and helped prepare the students for the real world.
- Leadership opportunities were afforded to the staff through an innovative initiative, the Leadership Internship Program. This job-embedded professional learning opportunity clearly provided evidence of the system’s intent to build and retain leaders from within.
- The system had established partnerships with the City and County, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and other community entities who helped leverage resources to the greater achievement of students and effectiveness of the organization.
- School Walk Arounds, begun in 2014, provided opportunities for principals to get “real time” feedback from the Director and Associate Director of Schools.
The AdvancED Accreditation Process is a clear and comprehensive program of evaluation and external review, supported by research-based standards, and dedicated to helping schools, districts and education providers continuously improve. The FSSD chose to undergo system accreditation rather than school-by-school accreditation. According to AdvancED’s web site, “System accreditation has the power to nurture and support individual school improvement, and at the same time unify school improvement and align it with overall system improvement goals so that the system’s schools are moving in one direction together, on the same page.”