Dramatic improvement in academic performance, staff development practices and community relations has earned Lenoir County Public Schools an invitation to tell its story of transformation this month at the state conference of the school accreditation organization AdvancED.
LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams announced the invitation and AdvancEd’s awarding of full accreditation to the school district at the Tuesday meeting of the Lenoir County Board of Education.
He and Associate Superintendent Frances Herring also shared with the board highlights of the report that followed the accreditation team’s visit to Lenoir County in April.
“We have not seen a better example of how to engage in a full-scale, comprehensive school system turnaround than what we have seen in Lenoir County Public Schools,” a portion of the team’s report read. “We have not seen so many of the ‘right things’ happen in a district so quickly. We simply have been very impressed. We believe strongly that your district is on the right track and that you will continue to make tremendous progress.”
April’s was the second visit by an AdvancEd team in 12 months. The first visit to review the school system’s progress during the term of prior accreditation, the previous five years, occurred shortly after Williams was promoted from interim superintendent to superintendent and while he was still assembling his leadership team. Noting LCPS was “in transition,” the visiting educators granted conditional accreditation, scheduled a return visit and outlined four priorities for LCPS to focus on.
- A research-based and data-driven instructional improvement plan.
- An on-going professional development plan.
- A long-range strategic plan that encompassed student achievement, fiscal realities and facilities.
- Community engagement that ensures “collaboration in support of the system’s purpose and direction.”
“We showed improvement in all areas,” Herring told the school board in comparing the second visit to the first. LCPS’s marks, awarded by AdvancEd on a four-point scale, showed growth of 25 percent in most of the eight areas assessed.
At Williams’ direction, LCPS has instituted a vigorous system of teacher support, which has included the development of curriculum guides, lesson plan templates, an instructional website and professional development opportunities tied to instructional goals.
“We have worked very hard to take a strategic and comprehensive approach to school improvement,” the superintendent said. “Our consistent and prioritized focus has been on instruction and making the best and most effective learning opportunities a daily reality for every student we serve.”
The school board, administrators and school staff members are working together to plan for the future, both in terms of facilities and fiscal resources; and school and district team members have developed a long list of partnerships with businesses, churches and other community groups while developing more opportunities to engage parents in the schools.
Williams said the improvements are reflected in students’ higher test scores, more focus on data-driven instruction by faculties and greater expectations for schools and the district generally.
“We had a great school year last year. Our students, teachers, administrators and other staff members all worked very hard to engage in the processes of ongoing school and school system improvement. Even though as a school district, we realize fully that we still have a great deal of work to do in the area of improvement, these initial steps are impressive.
“I want to thank our teachers and all other members of the LCPS family for their hard work and sincere dedication to the mission of moving forward and making our schools the greatest possible environments of learning and growth for the students were are so fortunate to serve.”
Results from state standardized testing last spring show significant improvements in terms of student proficiency and academic growth for all schools.
Williams and other LCPS administrators will relate what Herring called the district’s “journey of improvement” at the AdvancEd fall conference Sept. 25-26 in Greensboro.
AdvancEd is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of educators that conducts intense on-site, external reviews of pre-K through grade 12 schools and school systems. Nationwide, it works with 34,000 schools and school systems to foster continuous improvement.
Its accreditation of LCPS stands for five years.