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SACS finds no new violations

By Greg Gelpi

While the violations of the school board linger, a review team has found no new standards violations in the Clayton County school system.

Review teams from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement issued reports after its regular five-year review of elementary and middle schools, which was conducted in October.

The school system remains on warned status following a yearlong probation for violations by the Clayton County Board of Education. The review focused on elementary and middle schools and did not consider lifting the warned status.

"I am very proud to say that there are no standards violations besides those," said Paul Robbins, the school system's contact for SACS. "I think that's a very important fact."

Despite finding any additional violations, the teams made recommendations for each school. Reports for each school noted items that met expectations, met expectations with recommendations and didn't meet expectations.

The recommendations were based on the opinions of the teams, Robbins said. Each school had a separate team visit its facilities, review documentation, observe classes and interview personnel.

Schools are in the process of reviewing their reports and responding to the recommendations. Recommendations are simply that recommendations, but they must be addressed in some way by the next SACS visit in another five years.

The accrediting agency issued five recommendations to improve the system as a whole, including a recommendation calling its understanding of school improvement plans "quite shallow."

"In the midst of good teaching and subsequent learning, the understanding and application of the school improvement model is quite shallow," a report from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools states. "Future improvement may well be hindered if the district does not address this issue with adequate training at the building level. Incumbent upon the district is the need to better communicate with the schools and foster understanding and trust that will under gird overall improvement."

There were only three schools in which review teams found issues that didn't meet their expectations.

In a checklist of items, a SACS review team found that 16 of 25 items didn't meet expectations at Northcutt Elementary School.

Among the recommendations listed in Northcutt's review, the SACS review team said there should be a faculty in-service on quality school improvement, improvement goals should be localized, "stakeholders" should be involved in school improvement and math scores should be raised.

"It is obvious that great effort has been made to overcome the difficulties faced by the district," the system-wide report states. "Those efforts should continue in order to facilitate continuous school improvement district-wide and within each school."

Review teams also found five areas not meeting expectations at Fountain Elementary and six areas not meeting expectations at Jackson Elementary.

"Careful consideration should be given to the recommendations contained herein and within individual school reports," the system-wide SACS report states. "Though challenging, these recommendations are offered in the hope of fostering improvement and assisting in making that which is already good even better."

All of the system's middle schools and elementary schools, except Marshall Elementary and Kemp Primary, the system's two newest schools, were reviewed.