Oct. 31, 2002 On the eve of a significant deadline in the territory's efforts to secure accreditation for its public high schools, education officials say the process is on track and the people involved are meeting their responsibilities.
By Nov. 1, the four school accreditation teams were scheduled to submit actions plans to the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Education spokeswoman Juel Anderson said some of the teams have been meeting weekly to make sure their plans would be ready. "They just sent in to Middle States" the reports that were due, she said.
At Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, administrative officer Adelaide Gumbs said the 25 people making up the school accreditation team are relaxing their meeting schedule to once every two weeks now that their action plan is on its way. "We're looking at ways to curb student absentees and teacher absentees," she said. "It was a task, because sometimes you have to treat each case individually."
Reducing the number of school days missed by students and by teachers is one of the four main conditions imposed by Middle States. Increasing site-based management and ensuring an adequate pool of substitute teachers are also priorities.
Since Eudora Kean, Central and Charlotte Amalie High Schools lost accreditation last year, the Middle States Association has asked that the teams there take each school through the entire application and review process needed for a new school to meet accreditation standards. The fourth high school, Educational Complex, is seeking accreditation for the first time and is expected to adhere to the same timetable as the other three.
The next big deadline is in January, when site inspectors will make their first visit to the individual schools. Accreditation teams, working with the school superintendents and other top officials, are supposed to present their plans for ensuring an adequate substitute teacher pool.
In a statement released earlier this week, Noreen Michael, acting Education commissioner, refuted what she said was an inaccurate impression in a political advertisement concerning the Accreditation Institute held in September to make educational stakeholders aware of the work that lies ahead in the process. She said the ad "gives the impression that there was a lack of participation of territorial persons" at the institute.
In fact, Michael said, it "was a collaborative effort of public and private-sector interests" that involved Education Department administrators and teachers, Board of Education personnel, parents and community activists. "The two Middle States representatives were the key presenters of several work sessions" attended by up to 110 persons, she said, and participants said afterward that the institute gave them "a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities."
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