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Hardin Valley Elementary earns SACS accreditation


Hardin Valley Elementary School has now joined the ranks of 55 other schools in Knox County accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“We really brought the whole school together. Our success is the success of the students,” Todd Evans, Hardin Valley principal, said. “The SACS process is really just looking at your school and making your school as good as it can be.”

In order to be accredited by SACS schools must meet 10 standards that include proficiency in beliefs and missions, governance and leadership, curriculum, instruction and resources among others. Teachers, staff and students collected examples of ways that these standards were met, said Gina Hanna, who co-chaired the SACS accreditation group at Hardin Valley.

Hardin Valley started the year-long process of meeting the standards set by SACS Spring 2005, and received official accreditation April 27.

“Somebody actually made up a song about SACS because [the process] just lasted so long,” Hanna said. “You really have to keep everything; it can all be used to show exactly how our school runs.”

The SACS accreditation process requires that schools perform an evaluation and create goals to be achieved during the upcoming school year.

The goals realized at Harding Valley are for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders TCAP scores in Reading/Language Arts to increase from 89.1 percent in the 2004-2005 school year to 90.2 percent, and scores in mathematics to increase from 86.6 percent in the 2004-2005 school year to 90.2 percent, Evans said.

Although Hardin Valley teachers implemented many of the requirements for accreditation, the process of accumulating evidence was extremely time consuming.

“It’s more or less dumped in your lap and you have to figure out where we’re going with it,” Hanna said. “We had to get a lot of support from other schools to figure out the

procedure.”

For example, surveys with the community, behavior charts, attendance cards, grading scales and copies of discipline policies were used as evidence that certain requirement were being met, Hanna said.

SACS requires proof that schools follow an appropriate curriculum, and students are effectively learning in the classroom, Evans said.

“We had to look at things like the quality of teaching; are we teaching or are we just playing games in the classrooms?” Evans said. “Most of these things we are already doing.”

Student TCAP scores for the 2005-2006 school year reflected the success of the work students and teachers have put forth for SACS accreditation, Evans said.

“Our TCAP scores are very high. We have straight A’s across the board,” Evans said. “The bottom level is SACS will help scores.”

The SACS Quality Assurance Team listed recommendations for Hardin Valley.. They included hiring a full time technology director, additional special area teachers and considering other positions such as guidance counselor, school psychologist, and social worker to be hired.

Evans said that the budget Hardin Valley currently operates under creates a problem when trying to satisfy these recommendations for changes.

“We’re an above average school system operating on a below average budget,” Evans said.

 

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