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Corvallis Tim Johnson

Corvallis Superintendent Tim Johnson said Corvallis School District selected to go through the AdvancEd accrediting process from kindergarten through grade 12 and received approval – district-wide.

Corvallis School District received approval from the AdvancED Standards for Quality Schools accreditation process that included district-wide evaluations, stakeholder surveys, facilities evaluations and an onsite visit.

The Corvallis district received a report listing strengths and where there is room for improvements ranging from leadership capacity to learning environments.

“You get ranked on the data they collect and observe,” Johnson said. “We spent four months putting together data that describes where we are at in this continuous improvement process. AdvancEd looks through their lens,” they read the materials submitted and spend two days observing classes. “They also have researched their standards — on what makes a quality educational system.”

AdvancED is a community of education professionals around the world. The non-profit, non-partisan organization conducts rigorous reviews of educational institutions and systems with a goal of helping all learners realizing their full potential.

AdvancED accredited schools in the Bitterroot Valley are Hamilton, Stevensville, Corvallis, Florence, Darby and Hamilton Christian Academy.

According to Johnson, Corvallis High School has been accredited by AdvancEd for “possibly decades” but added the review process for all grades.

As part of the process, Corvallis surveyed the community, staff, students, board and leadership team. They also collected evidences of current practices and data numbers of student success, as requested.

“As you begin to collect this information you begin to see where you are at,” Johnson said. “We could see some of this coming.”

The AdvancEd Team meet at the school for an onsite review last March.

“They did their observations, interviews and ELIOT, an assessment of student engagement in the classroom,” Johnson said. “They look at our evidences, their observances and put together a quick report.”

Johnson said the process is comprehensive.

“It is also a snap shot,” he said. “They are here two days out of the whole school year and may see somethings and maybe not other things. They gave us a verbal report on our strengths and weaknesses, then sent a more in-depth report.”

The AdvancEd Team final report arrived in May and said the strengths at Corvallis School Districts are personal connections and the attention students receive from staff.

“Our powerful practice is the engagement of stakeholders,” Johnson said. “As a staff and community we knew it going in. The people who attend Corvallis are very satisfied and thrilled to be part of Corvallis. We engage people the best and the most.”

The AdvancEd Team report said improvement priority areas for Corvallis are: increased expectations, systemic data-driven strategies, supervision evaluation and professional development through student outcomes.

“The system evaluation team member said, ‘You guys are like a final four team but you’re not to the final championship bracket yet,’” Johnson said. “He said we have powerful things we can build on and there are things we can take another step further. There is room for the next step.”

Johnson said the AdvancEd report has been part of the strategic plan review for this year.

“This is just part of our larger review,” he said. “The AdvancEd report is a symptom of what we want to be – the growth mindset. We are willing to think critically about how we do what we do. We are willing to evaluate and implement change.”

The strategic plan review and goals will go to the Corvallis School Board for approval in December. Then to the leadership team, implementation into professional development, then to building-level roles.

“It is all informed and this supports the idea of that data-driven approach,” Johnson said. “AdvancEd is the first big piece of evidence to give outside eyes on our district. It is in line with what we thought. We need to push ourselves a little bit.”

Johnson said he is pleased with the buy-in from the board and staff who are ready to implement change.

“If we don’t embrace the idea of the continuous improvement process then how do we model this for the kids who have experienced 13-years of this?” Johnson said. “You cannot expect students to learn very well that which isn’t modeled very often. It has to start with us and we are embracing it.”

Johnson presented the Corvallis School District experience with the accreditation process in Bozeman, Tuesday, at the AdvancEd Continuous Improvement Conference organized by Daniel Sybrant, PhD, for school districts interested in the process.

“We present the ins and outs of why we went through the process, how it went for us and what we are doing about it now,” Johnson said.