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Forsyth schools ready for AdvancED Accreditation review

FORSYTH COUNTY -- After nearly six months of preparing to host an educational accreditation agency, Forsyth County Schools is ready for review and expects to receive accreditation come February.

At a Board of Education called meeting during its annual retreat Monday, Director of Accountability Karl Mercer presented the board with a timeline of the work he and his team have done to prepare for the accreditation review, which will be performed by AdvancED.

AdvancED is “a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of Pre-K-12 schools and school systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential,” its website says.

Accreditation from AdvancED would add another level of accountability to the school system as a way to prove its student achievement compared to other accredited systems in the U.S. and 70 other countries.

Representatives from the organization will tour 10 of the county’s schools from Feb. 5-8, evaluating FCS based on five agency-set standards and two diagnostics.

Some of the campuses that will be visited are Shiloh Point Elementary, Daves Creek Elementary, South Forsyth Middle, Liberty Middle, South Forsyth High and Forsyth County Central High schools.

“[AdvancED] gave us a lot of leeway and flexibility to choose our schools ourselves,” Mercer said. “We developed the list based on areas in the county so we were sure they saw a variety of things and a variety of the students that we have.”

The standards and diagnostic scores serve as data that is aggregated into a cumulative Index of Education Quality, or IEQ, score.

The IEQ “provides a benchmark to assess and guide future decisions.”

“By analyzing the components of an IEQ score, an institution can focus their attention and actions on activities and systems that optimize learning for all students,” AdvancED’s website says.

In the district’s self-assessment, the lowest score FCS received was a 3.125 out of a maximum score of 4, which was in resources and support systems.

FCS scored a 3.75 for purpose and direction, a 3.33 in governance and leadership, a 3.25 in teaching and assessing for learning and a 3.4 in using results for continuous improvement.

The district’s self-assessment also had FCS scoring a 4 on the student performance diagnostic and a 3.5 on the stakeholder feedback diagnostic.

“It will be interesting to see when the team comes from the fifth through the eighth,” Mercer said, “how close our self-assessment scores are compared to what they’ve found.”