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Richland Two gets nod for re-accreditation


A three-day AdvancED accreditation visit ended with a highly complimentary exit report on Wednesday afternoon for Richland School District Two.

Dr. Stephen Oborn, lead evaluator for a team of eight evaluators made up of educators from across the country, delivered the report and announced that the district retains its accreditation for another five years. Richland Two earned re-accreditation by meeting AdvancED’s high standards in three areas: Teaching and Learning; Capacity of Leadership; and Use of Resources.

The district earned an overall Index of Education Quality (IEQ) score of 330.79. This AdvancED Network Average (AEN) IEQ score is 278.94, which is based on data from more than 34,000 institutions serving 20 million students worldwide.

“The AdvancED process is all about continuous improvement and making sure that we are doing our very best for our students every day,” said Richland Two Superintendent Dr. Debbie Hamm.

“This process began long before the team arrived on Monday. Our employees, parents, students, Board of Trustees and community members have been engaged in a long period of self-study and reflection. The results highlighted in today’s exit report confirm that Richland Two truly is a place where something special happens every day. I appreciate the hard work of the Richland Two family as well as the AdvancED accreditation team, which provided invaluable external input,” said Dr. Hamm.
In addition to the district receiving the accreditation recommendation, Forest Lake Elementary and Westwood High schools earned AdvancED STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Certification. They join approximately 70 schools nationwide in this honor.

This certification is a mark of STEM distinction and excellence only offered to highly effective institutions that prioritize STEM education as a path to success.

In order to earn STEM Certification, both schools had to demonstrate adherence to the AdvancED STEM Standard as reflected by the school’s performance across 11 rigorous STEM Indicators.
AdvancED STEM Certification is the first internationally recognized mark of quality for STEM schools and programs, signaling the growing emphasis placed on STEM education by educators, politicians and business leaders around the world. In earning this certification, Forest Lake Elementary and Westwood High demonstrated commitment to preparing students for their educational and career opportunities of the future by ensuring its students will have the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in their postsecondary pursuits and as workforce contributors in the 21st-century economy.
The AdvancED district accreditation team had conversations or conducted interviews with 563 people including 260 students as well as teachers, students, administrators, board members, parents and community members to assess the district’s strengths and make recommendations for any changes.

The team members also visited 96 classrooms across the district to assess learning environments. The district’s average scores on the observation tool exceeded international levels in all areas including Equitable Learning Environment; High Expectations Environment; Supportive Learning Environment; Active Learning Environment; Progress Monitoring and Feedback Environment; Well-Managed Learning Environment; and Digital Learning Environment.

From the evidence gathered, the team described Richland Two as “a caring, transformative and collaborative system committed to the creation of innovative learning opportunities for all children, energized by the belief in family and community partnerships which are dedicated to prepare all students for success by providing meaningful, challenging, and engaging learning experiences.”

All AdvancED reports include Powerful Practices, Opportunities for Improvement and Improvement Priorities. The Richland Two team identified the following for the district:
Powerful Practices
  • 1.3 School leadership and staff at all levels of the system commit to a culture of shared values and beliefs about teaching and learning and support unique, challenging and equitable educational programs that impact all students.
  • 2.3 The governing body ensures that the leadership at all levels has the autonomy to meet the goals for achievement and instruction and to manage day-to-day operations effectively.
  • 3.3 Teachers throughout the system engage students through instructional strategies that ensure achievement of learning expectations.
  • 4.2 Instructional time, material and fiscal resources are sufficient to support the purpose and direction of the system, and provide for innovative school instruction that supports challenging learning expectations.
 Opportunity for Improvement
  • 5.3 Develop and implement a system-wide plan that is tasked to train all professional and support staff in the evaluation, interpretation and use of data.
Improvement Priority
  • 2.6 Develop and implement a system-wide policy designed to provide and support the evaluation of programs, professional development protocols and instructional strategies using a variety of sources to improve student success.

AdvancED is a non-profit, non-partisan organization staffed by the largest community of education professionals in the world. This organization conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of Pre-K-12 schools and school systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential.

Richland School District Two is the largest school district in the Midlands area of South Carolina and one of the fastest-growing in the state. We serve more than 27,000 Pre-K through 12th grade students in 40 schools and centers: 19 elementary schools, seven middle schools, five high schools, four magnet centers, one child development center and one alternative school. A district of choice, where every school is an excellent choice, Richland Two offers 37 magnet programs catering to the individual interests and needs of our learners. The district also has an adult, continuing and technology education center and a charter high school. Our 20th elementary school Jackson Creek Elementary is scheduled to open in August 2017. In August 2016, Richland Two opened a one-of-a-kind educational facility — the Richland Two Institute of Innovation (R2i2). R2i2 is an innovative multi-use learning environment where students, parents, teachers and academic support personnel, community members, and businesses can engage in collaborative educational activities. The facility includes an innovative learning center, district office space, a full-service conference center and a public library.