Tallassee City Schools (TCS) recently went through its five-year accreditation review with a company called Cognia. Cognia is the latest iteration of what was formerly known as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
TCS has received its preliminary accreditation findings with full accreditation anticipated once the Cognia team completes its quality review. My nine-year-old daughter, Campbell asked me, “Daddy, did you pass your test?” “Yes sweetie, we passed with flying colors!” While this is a nine year old's perspective, there is some truth to it. Sometimes we are judged on “How” we do things as well as outcomes of processes.
Why is being an accredited school so important? Why do we subject ourselves to a “test”? According to Cognia accreditation is, “Based on a set of rigorous research-based standards and evidence-based criteria, the accreditation process examines the whole institution-its policies, programs, practices, learning conditions, and cultural context-to determine how well the parts work together to carry out the institution’s vision and meet the needs of every learner. Accreditation isn’t about passing a one-time inspection. Rather, accreditation recognizes education providers that demonstrate and sustain their commitments to continuous improvement and better learner outcomes.”
That’s right, better learner outcomes! Just as any evaluation (testing) of an educational organization should be for determining better means for better student outcomes, the accreditation process is designed to do just that. Mrs. Tessie Williams, Deputy Superintendent, was the leader of this process for our district. She did an excellent job of coordinating our staff, students, parents, community members, and board members for the review. She spent countless hours in conversation and uploaded evidence documents to the review team (composed of members from various states). TCS had many others contribute to this process also. The old saying about “It Takes A Village” rings true in this process.
Looking more closely at the process, Cognia uses three learning domains in its review. These include 1) Leadership Capacity, 2) Learning Capacity, 3) Resource Capacity. Cognia notes, “The Domains are statements that define the capacity of an organization or institution to provide quality and meet the rigorous demands of continuous improvement. Each Domain is further defined by Standards.” For those more interested in the standards, please see the link below this article.
I’d like to thank all of the TCS Board members, community members, staff, students, and business partners for their participation in this review. We look forward to the final report by Cognia and welcome any comments and suggestions to help our system improve thereby yielding “better learner outcomes”.