In education, accreditation is the process by which schools are recognized as having achieved established standards. For USD No. 113, maintaining our accreditation is extremely important.
This is the standard that is established that allows for graduates to be recognized as having achieved a certain level of proficiency as they enter the work force, post-secondary education or the military.
Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) is the new accreditation model. This model is a holistic evaluation of what happens in Kansas schools. USD No. 113 is in year two of the five-year process for accreditation. At this time, we have developed and presented our action plans that we will continue to implement through this cycle. This model accredits school districts, not individual schools.
On Friday, April 13, USD No. 113 hosted its first KESA Outside Visitation Team (OVT) visit. Although this visit was extremely important, my level of anxiety was low. Have you ever gone into a test so prepared that you weren’t worried at all because you knew you were ready? That was the feeling I had as we started our visit.
Because of proactive work by the USD No. 113 District Leadership Team, assisted by Building Leadership Teams, we are positioned to meet the standards established by the state. We have undertaken district initiatives that complement the focus of accreditation established by the Kansas State Board of Education.
Two district initiatives that we have identified as priorities have contributed to our ability to meet accreditation standards.
The Individual Plan of Study (IPS) is an individualized plan for each secondary student in the district. This academic plan provides each student with information regarding his/her strengths, career goals, and direction for career exploration. This is also a tool that can increase the connection between our students and experiences with the world of work in our communities.
Another focus of the district is our Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS). MTSS is a process to identify what we want each child to know (curriculum), to determine the skills that each child has attained (assessment), to provide early interventions when children don’t know it (instruction) and to further challenge those students who have already learned it.
During our visit, individuals with expertise in the area of school improvement reviewed our processes, asked questions and discussed best educational practices. As the visit unfolded and each of our attendance centers discussed the systems that are in place, the developed action plans and the work that has been done to help us meet the needs of our students, I was proud of the professionals providing leadership to our buildings. It is rewarding to think back on the path we have traveled and what we have accomplished.
We want our district to undergo continuous improvement through the involvement of all stakeholders. The foundation has been established to continue to make advancements. I appreciate the Board of Education for their support and vision, and I want to express gratitude to the District Leadership Team for their high quality work toward improving our schools.