By Tom Ludens, Superintendent
Last week, the Dell Rapids School District continued a long tradition that began in 1951 – hosting an accreditation visit by AdvancEd. AdvancEd is a global leader in advancing excellence in education through continuous improvement, organizational effectiveness, and accreditation. For three days, April 23-25th, Dell Rapids hosted a team of professionals who reviewed, interviewed and researched our district.
The review team, headed by Dr. Bill Rivenbark, was comprised of professional peers with diverse experience and varied contextual perspective. The team came to assess and evaluate the district’s effectiveness in meeting the requirements of accreditation. The review team provides the District and community with important validation and recognition, as well as valuable feedback and direction for improvement.
During the three days, the team reviewed our Standard Assessment Report and the District’s website; they listened to District presentations; they interviewed District stakeholders; they examined artifacts; they visited the three schools in the District; they observed practices and the learning environments of the schools; they collected and organized data; and they will provide a written report to the District.
One of the more hands-on parts of the process was the interview phase. The team interviewed a total of 127 stakeholders. They interviewed 4 school board members, 5 administrators, 37 teachers, 15 support staff, 22 parents and community/business partners, and 44 students.
On the last day of the review, the team shared their findings with the District staff. The first findings were three commendations. The District was commended for its teachers and staff that are caring, dedicated, highly qualified, and demonstrate a commitment to student success. The District was also commended for its excellent facilities, supported by the community, which effectively supports the teaching and learning process. The last commendation was for the District’s strong support from all of its stakeholders.
The review team also found that the Dell Rapids School District must complete six required actions to help improve the District’s effectiveness and student learning. These actions are:
(1) develop and implement, with stakeholder participation, a comprehensive strategic plan; (2) design and communicate a clear and sustainable process for continuous improvement; (3) commit to an effective process for monitoring progress that utilizes formative data; (4) identify and deploy strategies to increase internal and external stakeholder involvement in decision-making and continuous improvement; (5) identify and deploy a process for regularly listening to stakeholders; and (6) create and implement systematic evaluation of all classified employees.
The team also ranked the District on how it was doing on each of the seven accreditation standards. The seven standards are ranked as; highly functional, operational, emerging and not evident. The Dell Rapids School District had four standards ranked operational and three standards ranked emerging.
The team completed the evidence-based accreditation process and their oral report. The team submits a written report to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission and they determine accreditation status and grants the term of accreditation. Finally, the Review Team extended to Dell Rapids their appreciation for our hospitality, support, and professionalism; their respect and acknowledgement of our efforts to improve the quality of our district; their congratulations for our progress toward achieving district accreditation; and finally their recommendation to the Commission of Accreditation for Dell Rapids to be accredited on advisement.
Finally, additional information will be shared with the community as it becomes available.