CCS receives AdvancED accreditation

Published 3:59 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2019

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chilton County Schools has received full accreditation from AdvancED.

AdvancED is a national organization providing a higher-level of accreditation for schools.

This designation means the diplomas of Chilton County Schools’ graduates will be accepted at the majority of post-secondary educational opportunities and training programs.

Plans are being made to celebrate the accreditation with ceremonies and banners at each school in the system.

“This involved faculty and staff and administration, central office, community members, parents and board members,” Griffin said. “This is a very intense process. I’m excited. It’s a big deal.”

Assistant Superintendent Adriane Dennis and Department of Teaching Learning director Ashlie Harrison had begun working on the paperwork prior to Griffin becoming superintendent.

Griffin said now that the school system is accredited, it will receive continuous feedback on the school system goals based on feedback given during the accreditation process.

The long journey to accreditation for the school system was prompted in part by the story of a Thorsby High School graduate whose diploma was not accepted by the Alabama Fire College because the school was not accredited through AdvancED.

Positive comments by the AdvancED accreditation were the good behavior of students during visits and the community involvement in the schools.

“On the one hand, they were praising us that all the schools are different and unique, and then on the other hand, they said there needs to be more continuity of programs across the district, too,” Griffin said. “So, we are going to work on that within personal and financial constraints.”

CCS is one of only a few school systems in the country that have K-12 schools, which can complicate trying to have the same programs and opportunities at every school.

“Making those K-12s look like the feeder pattern (schools, including Clanton and Jemison) is very hard,” Harrison said.

Griffin said logistics is the main issue.

“There are certain things you can or cannot do based on personnel and finances,” Griffin said.

He gave the example of the resources needed to have AP classes at every school.

Focus will be placed on making core classes and career tech processes consistent.

Griffin said “it bothers me” that every class, such as culinary, cannot be offered at every school but the resources are not available to offer it everywhere. However, a solution has been allowing students to apply to a particular program, regardless the school they attend. Students also have the option to enroll in any high school in the county.

Continuity in paperwork and processes used to help struggling students is one area of focus. Griffin said other processes will be streamlined and made consistent among all the school as well.

Harrison said the accreditation committee also wanted the school system to have more options for juniors and seniors who only have a few required classes left but are still required to be involved for the equivalent of a full school day.

“We have some things in place for the upcoming school year,” Harrison said.

This could include co-op, internships and dual enrollment.

Harrison said the state does not allow students to leave after half a day of classes.

“We have a lot of kids that have the opportunity to get a job,” Harrison said. “It might not be during school hours but it can count toward credits. We are also opening up our dual enrollment opportunities. A lot more dual enrollment programs are planned for next year, especially for the career tech side.”

Griffin said these plans will give students an opportunity to focus on the field they are interested in after college, rather than just assigning them a class just to fill time.