DeKalb Middle School is being recommended for AdvancED reaccreditation.
Members of an external review team visited the school last Thursday and Friday, April 16 & 17 to conduct the evaluation.
"We all have been really impressed with how you have grown through the years. You are doing good work. The External Review Team will recommend to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission that DeKalb Middle School earn the distinction of accreditation by AdvancED for a five year term that expires June 30, 2020," said, Mary Gist, AdvancED Lead Evaluator who addressed members of the administration, faculty, Interim Director Dr. Danielle Collins, school board member Doug Stephens and WJLE at DeKalb Middle School in an exit report meeting Friday afternoon. Along with the recommendation for reaccreditation, the team cited improvement priorities that must be addressed with a plan of action within two years.
The AdvancED external review team, made up of four Middle Tennessee educators, met with sixty four stakeholders in conducting its evaluation of DeKalb Middle School including two administrators, sixteen teachers, nine support staff, twenty nine students, and eight parents.
The school was evaluated in three domains "Teaching and Learning Impact on Student Performance", "Capacity of Leadership to guide and ensure effectiveness in carrying out the strategic direction of the institution", and "Utilization of Resources".
In the domain of "Teaching and Learning Impact", the external review team examined student performance results; instructional quality; learner and family engagement; support services for student learning; curriculum quality and effiacy; and college and career readiness data. In this domain, Gist said the school should focus on using its data more and perhaps changing its grading practices. These were cited as "Improvement Priorities".
"Monitor or adjust curriculum, instruction, assessment. If I had to put that in two words its "Use data". You have a ton of data. Keep looking for ways to use that data to change instruction. If a child makes 72% on a test and that is not good enough, what is your next step with that student after you grade that paper? How are you going to re-teach?. How are you going to assess?. What are you going to do with that data?. Continue to become more involved with that (data) and figure out ways you can use it. Use data to monitor your programs. Are your periods that you use for intervention effective? How do you know? Is your writing lab effective? What is the data? What data do you look at to show the programs are effective? Is your instruction effective? Look at TCAP scores and teacher evaluation data to figure out what you need to improve," said Gist.
"In your student assessment system, look at your grading practices. You need to look at your beliefs and philosophy about how you grade," Gist continued. "How much should testing and homework count?"
"As an opportunity for improvement, look at professional learning. Look at what you're offering for PD (professional development). Know why it is being offered. Is it data driven. If it's worth presenting, it's worth doing. Our suggestion is for your administration to follow through with that," said Gist.
In the domain of "Leadership Capacity" the external review team examined institutional purpose and direction, governance and leadership effectiveness, stakeholder engagement, improvement capacity and results. Using the evaluation process to increase student achievement was cited as an improvement priority. "The team evaluation data is one of the best things the state has done. It gives us specific language to have a conversation between an administrator and teacher to pinpoint exactly what we need to do for improvement. We all have room for growth. That process needs to be used for promoting specific growth tied to student achievement," Gist said.
In the area of "Resource Utilization", the team examined the allocation and use of resources; equity of resource distribution to the need; level and sustainability of resources; long range capital and resource planning effectiveness. "Using resources to support the purpose" was cited as an improvement priority in this domain. " This goes back to money. We all need more money but look at how you're using your resources," said Gist. " Can you use people a little more creatively? Are there things we can do with what we have to support kids and to support learning?"
According to Gist, the Index of Education Quality results for DeKalb Middle School indicate that the institution is performing within acceptable ranges as compared to expected criteria as well as other institutions in the AdvancED Network nationally.
*DeKalb Middle School's overall IEQ score was 212.18 compared to the AdvancED Network Average of 282.79 (All schools in the network nationally evaluated over the last 12 months)
*Teaching and Learning Impact on student performance: DeKalb Middle School IEQ Score:198.81. AE Network Average 274.14
*Capacity of Leadership to guide and ensure effectiveness in carrying out the strategic direction of the institution. DeKalb Middle School IEQ Score: 243.18. AE Network 296.08.
*Resource Utilization: DeKalb Middle School Score: 203.57. AE Network Average 286.32.
A written external report will be prepared and sent to the AdvancED Tennessee Commission for approval and then to the regional office in Atlanta for final action on reaccreditation in June.
Members of the AdvancED External Review Team who visited DeKalb Middle School, in addition to Lead Evaluator Mary Gist were Shannon Bryant, Assistant Principal at Montgomery Central Middle in Clarksville; Dr. Stacy Calton of Freedom Intermediate School with the Franklin Special Schools District; Breckon Pennell, Assistant Principal at Heritage Middle School at Thompson Station. Mary Gist is Director of Middle Schools at Clarksville in the Montgomery County Schools District.
The AdvancED Network was created as a result of a merger of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Several years ago SACS merged with North Central and created AdvancED which is the K-12 component for accreditation purposes. AdvancED is now a global leader in providing continuous improvement and accreditation services to over 32,000 institutions serving 20 million students worldwide. The regional office is in Atlanta, Georgia. The state office is in Nashville.
DCHS was reaccredited last year. All the other schools in the county were evaluated earlier this year and have also been recommended for reaccreditation.
(PICTURED ABOVE: Randy Jennings, Principal at DeKalb Middle School; Shannon Bryant, Assistant Principal at Montgomery Central Middle in Clarksville; Dr. Stacy Calton of Freedom Intermediate School with Franklin Special Schools; Breckon Pennell, Assistant Principal at Heritage Middle School at Thompson Station; Mary Gist, Director of Middle Schools at Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools; and Amanda Dakas, Assistant Principal at DeKalb Middle School).