School accountability process scrutinized

Making the accreditation process more meaningful and less stressful was something each of the 14 parents who attended Thursday's School Accountability Committee meeting agreed on. To what degree they should modify their process is still under discussion.

SAC members evaluate every school's progress on its goals each year in a long and time-consuming process that includes a self-study, site visitation and a written report.

The process is stressful for committee members and school administrators who voiced their worries Thursday.

"We'd like to see (the process) continue, because we're very excited about it. But we understand it's a lot of pressure on principals," SAC president Catherine Blevins said. "We started with a very complex system, and maybe we ought to simplify it."

Changes proposed include reviewing each school's progress on achieving goals every year with that building's principal.

On-site visits by SAC members will be performed every three years on a rotating basis, and outside review team members will participate in the on-site visit every six years.

According to Superintendent Pete Bergmann, the district is facing several challenges, including a new math curriculum, changes in staff evaluations and implementing a team-teaching standard. He said that combining those with an in-depth, paperwork-heavy accreditation process was stressful and frustrating.

"We're just stretched thin both as a committee and a staff," he said. "My opinion is we're being overly ambitious."

He said the amount of work required by the current accreditation process eroded the quality of the information and the reports. By rotating schools, administrators and committee members would have more time to do a more comprehensive job, he said.

"I would prefer it be less often and more quality," Moffat County High School Principal Jane Krogman said.

"I've felt the whole process is subjective."

Four years ago, the state charged school districts with the responsibility of accreditating their own schools but didn't provide guidelines to do that.

Some districts, Bergmann said, consider their schools accredited if they don't receive an unsatisfactory rating based on Colorado Student Assessment Program tests.

The change, Bergmann said, still would provide for an in-depth review process but remove much of the paperwork.

"I'm not sure we're a better school or school district because of this process we now have in place," Bergmann said.

"We have to look at the result. Are schools doing better and are they more accountable because of this process?

"If the answer is no, we should change the process."

The SAC meets again Nov. 11. At that meeting, groups of three to five members will meet with each school's principal and review that school's goals and its progress in meeting them.

Reports will be submitted to the School Board in December.

SAC committee members will continue to discuss revising the accreditation process.

The state is responsible for accrediting the entire school district. Results from that process are due this month.

The School Accountability Committee is made up of members of each school's Parent Advisory Committee.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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