|System earns accreditation thanks to employees’ efforts|
As I begin my 12th year as superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools this month, I look back with confidence, knowing that our schools have done a great deal of good work for students and for our community in the last 11 years. That fact was affirmed recently by a team of outside observers who are experts in our profession. Those experts came from down the road and from neighboring states, from across the nation and from another continent. They came to Gwinnett as members of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) district accreditation team.
After spending two-and-a-half days reviewing every facet of the school system, the team’s recommendation was resounding… award GCPS district accreditation as a quality school system without reservation. The team noted a number of significant qualities and accomplishments which characterize the school district and its capacity to support student learning. Those include:
•Stable, visionary, and effective leadership at all levels;
•Continuous focus on the core business of teaching and learning; and
•Systemwide alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
The review team also commended the system on its AKS curriculum, the use of data to continuously improve, access to technology, and its broad internal and external communication efforts.
The team also had some recommendations for GCPS. They urged the system to continue to close the achievement gap that exists among students; to recruit and retain high-quality staff and administrators, reflecting the diversity of the students served; and, acknowledging that our foremost challenge is managing our growth effectively, to continue to study the long-range impact of our growing student enrollment.
The most frequent comments from the SACS CASI team focused on our people. Team members were impressed with the more than 800 students, teachers, administrators, and parents who were interviewed during the visit. Our stakeholders helped define Gwinnett County Public Schools in the team’s eyes. Therefore, the visitors’ assessment of GCPS as a “fine school system” is a reflection of the outstanding employees, students, parents, and citizens who comprise Gwinnett County Public Schools.
As the SACS CASI team noted, we serve our students and community exceptionally well in Gwinnett County Public Schools. We have never been larger, or more diverse, or more economically challenged, yet achievement levels for Gwinnett’s students are the highest they have ever been.
Our teachers, support staff, and leaders are the co-authors of this and countless other school system success stories. I want to take this opportunity to thank the 22,000-plus employees of Gwinnett County Public Schools for their service to the children of Gwinnett and their dedication to providing a world-class education for all students by focusing on our core business of teaching and learning, with the emphasis on learning. When it comes to teaching and learning, we are standouts in the state and nation.
As the SACS CASI district accreditation process verified, we are keeping our focus on the main thing and continuing to improve in student achievement.
J. Alvin Wilbanks