The Vernon Parish School Board recently went through an accreditation process with Advance Education (AdvancED), a non-profit organization that "conducts rigorous, on-site reviews of a variety of educational institutions and systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential."
VPSB Superintendent Mike Kay briefed board members on key findings the AdvancED evaluation period, as well as what the accreditation process entailed.
The AdvancED evaluation team was made up of six team members responsible for acquiring evidence and information necessary to evaluate VPSB's performance against AdvancED Performance Standards, use the respective standards to assess the school system's learning environments, and provide constructive feedback.
The team spoke with 216 interviewees, which consisted of administrators, board members, principals, teachers, community partners, parents and students.
They identified the Vernon Parish School System's strengths being shared leadership and commitment, supportive culture and family, and systemic data-driven decision making.
"They said we were very ahead of the curve not just in Louisiana, but in the nation as well with what we are doing," Kay said. "We're very pleased with the outcome."
Areas identified for improvement were systemic equity opportunities between schools and technology for learning. VPSB Superintendent James Williams said the district will make the changes necessary to improve in these categories.
"Those are the areas we will continue to work on. Those are things we are just going to strive for to make sure that everybody has that opportunity whether they are at the smallest school in the parish or the largest school," Williams said.
Kay said that according to the AdvanED exit review, VPSB will receive its accreditation within 45 days. He stressed the importance of this accreditation to the Vernon Parish community, which has a large population of military families.
"When people come into our area, we get a lot of military families with students from Fort Polk, and they need to know that we are held to certain standards," Kay said. "AdvancED provides us with an international accreditation. If you don't have that accreditation, then when they leave here and go to another duty station there may be some questions as to whether or not they'll accept the credits they earned here."
Fort Polk Garrison Commander Col. Jarrett A. Thomas II expressed his appreciation to the Vernon Parish School Board in making this accreditation process a priority.
"What you all do here for us as far as the accreditation piece means a great deal to our servicemembers and their families," Thomas said. "We do move quite often and we're trying to reduce the difficulty of moving students from one school district to another, so the accreditation piece is critically important to us."
Fort Polk Progress President Michael Reese also said he was grateful to VPSB for its efforts during the AdvancED accreditation process.
"This accreditation ensures a smooth transition for students from military families at Fort Polk as they move in and out of Vernon Parish," Reese said. "Thank you for taking all the steps necessary for the Vernon Parish School System to continue to providing the best quality of education to military students, as well as civilians."