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Accreditation…With a Side of Warning

July 30, 2012


A reader today pointed something out to me that I had completely missed. At last week’s State Board of Education meeting, while I was paying attention to budget questions and ACE appeals, they approved accreditation requests for school districts – some with deficiencies, some with warnings. According to the SDE news release:

For the coming school year, there are 372 nonpublic, public, charter, and career and technology education districts accredited with no deficiencies; 83 with one deficiency; 27 with multiple deficiencies; 111 districts accredited with a warning; and 9 listed as on probation.

The complete list is here.

The reader’s concern is that the number of districts receiving a warning with their deficiency report has increased from 38 to 111. The short answer to this is that the procedure is routine and goes back three or four years. The number of districts with warnings correlates to the number of schools that were placed in Needs Improvement status under the No Child Left Behind rules – rules that no longer apply due to the state waiver. Last year, as expected under the unrealistic goals set by NCLB, the number of schools and districts not making AYP spiked.

So a school district’s accreditation status for 2012-13 depends in part on test scores from the 2010-11 school year. Regardless of who is running the show up there, that’s ridiculous.

I also found interest in this nugget from my reader. For the 2011-12 school year, all charter schools in the state were accredited with no deficiencies. Warnings are not listed on the spreadsheet.

Compare that with the 2012-13 accreditation report and … wait … only one charter school received a warning? Santa Fe South Middle School received a warning, but not Justice A.W. Seeworth Academy (234 API –Needs Improvement). While several other charters did not make adequate yearly progress, they had still avoided the Needs Improvement designation.

I don’t know if this is an oversight or an inconsistency. And it really doesn’t matter. What it really points to is the idea that accreditation (a state process) should never have crossed streams with Adequate Yearly Progress and Needs Improvement (federal). If districts meet state statutes, that should be enough to keep accreditation.

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