ECHS passes SACS check
By By Tray Smith
Escambia County High School (ECHS) passed an inspection by representatives from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) last week, securing its accreditation for the next five years.
Schools undergo the SACS accreditation process every 10 years, and SACS representatives visit schools every five years. In order to be SACs accredited, schools must submit improvement plans to the association. The inspections are intended to verify schools are following their improvement plans. SACS accreditation is the most prominent indicator of school competence.
Schools must meet standards in seven areas to be SACS accredited including, data, technology, government and leadership, teaching and learning, resources and support systems and communication with stakeholders (community involvement.) Escambia County High School met standards in each of the seven areas, but scored weak on community involvement.
If ECHS had failed to maintain its accreditation, students would have a difficult time getting into college or transferring to other schools.
Specifically, the SACS committee wanted to know what type of data the school kept on student performance and how that data drives instruction methods. For instance, they reviewed how 10th grade scores on the Alabama Writing Assessment impacts ECHS’s curriculum. On the flip side, they wanted to know what methods ECHS uses to assess teaching and instruction.
ECHS administrators delegated responsibility for the momentous task of SACS accreditation between several teachers, who chaired committees charged with ensuring the school met all seven SACS standards. The committees were responsible for conducting self-assessment exercises to detect areas where ECHS may be failing.
While on campus, the SACS committee observed classrooms, reviewed documentation and interviewed students, teachers, parents and community representatives.
They were treated to refreshments provided by members of the ECHS faculty responsible for maintaining a hospitable environment.
The SACS accreditation review team delivered an oral report to ECHS administrators. They recommended that the school place doors on solar building classrooms in order to control noise levels and hire an on site technology aid to manage the school’s computer system. They commended the school for its efforts to improve school spirit, using available resources for technology and submitting and working towards a worthy school improvement plan. They also recognized ECHS for its appearance and cleanliness. Additional recommendations will be delivered to the school when the SACS committee sends its official report to the Alabama State Department of Education.