Accreditors praise District 21 for improved mission process and use of recognized standardDec 1, 2015 By Christina George, Staff Writer
Fremont County School District 21 just revised its vision and mission statements using a process that earned praise from an accreditation team that visited the Fort Washakie campus. The district still needs to develop a long-range strategic plan to create a K-12 college and career readiness program, however.
The November findings were part of a report created by a team from AdvancED after the four-day district visit.
The report also noted the team's recommendation to AdvancED's commission that FCSD 21 earn the distinction of accreditation.
The Wyoming State Board of Education will make the final determination next year.
Fort Washakie superintendent Terry Ebert said the report's conclusions reinforce what the district already knew were its strengths and weaknesses.
"We felt it was a good process, and we recognize that the best way to take full advantage of the process is to make it ongoing," Ebert said.
"It's a process, not a one-time event, so if we take the advice that we are given and work on the things that they talked to us about, which we agree with, in the next five years when they come again, we expect to have an even better report."
Wyoming school districts are required to submit a written accreditation report annually, but an onsite visit from an accreditation team is required every five years.
Nearly all Wyoming school districts use AdvancED. The nationally recognized accreditation organization calls itself the global leader in providing continuous improvement and accreditation services to more than 32,000 institutions serving 20 million students worldwide.
"We spent last year making sure that our teachers and our staff were aware of what AdvancED was. The standards were reviewed. We did a self-evaluation in each area and discussed those with employees," Ebert said.
"Last year, starting in Nov-ember, we did some half-day professional development days where we did enrichment-type activities with kids while teachers were working on some prep work for AdvancED. There is quite a bit of work that goes into it the year before, specifically."
The accreditation team visited Fort Washakie Oct. 11-14 to observe operations, sit in on classroom lessons and interview 91 stakeholders including staff, students, parents and community partners.
The three categories reviewed were: teaching and learning impact, leadership capacity and resource utilization.
Teaching, learning impact
In the first category, the team examined student performance results, instructional quality, learner and family engagement, support services for student learning, curriculum quality and efficacy, and college and career readiness data.
According to the external review report, Fort Washakie's improvement priorities are to develop a framework for strong adult advocacy relationships with students and to design and implement a system for mentoring new staff members.
The district also needs to provide a rigorous, relevant student-centered learning environment that incorporates effective instruction techniques through consistent evaluation and feedback.
For the next category, the team reviewed institutional purpose and direction, governance and leadership effectiveness, stakeholder engagement, improvement capacity and results.
Fort Washakie was praised for its revisions to the district's vision and mission documents, which were made by enlisting stakeholders and striving for important change. The district does, however, need to develop a long-range strategic plan to create a K-12 college and career readiness program.
Finally, the AdvancED team looked at how FCSD21 allocates and uses resources, equity of resource distribution to need, level and sustainability of resources, and long-range capital and resource planning effectiveness.
According to the report, Fort Washakie's media program provides outstanding resources to students, staff and the community. The district also has fully-functional and state-of-the-art technology infrastructure, which his augmented with widely available tools, resources and the necessary supportive bandwidth.
The team noted an improvement priority of establishing routines to evaluate internal safety conditions and remedy deficiencies.