Evaluation Team Gives Schools Thumbs-Up; the Educators Recommended Countywide Accreditation after Spending Three Days in Duval

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Byline: TOPHER SANDERS

Duval County Public Schools received a recommendation for countywide accreditation Wednesday from an evaluation team with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The recommendation came after the 32-member evaluation team of educators spent three days in the county, visited 60 schools, 251 classrooms and talked to more than 1,200 district stakeholders.

The recommendation for accreditation is expected to be confirmed in January at the association's commission meeting. The accreditation will last for five years.

The team commended the school system in several areas but also noted weaknesses and provided recommendations.

"I'm a just excited about accreditation ... and I thought that their assessments were accurate," School Board Chairwoman Betty Burney said.

Among the school system's commendations was its strategic plan, which the evaluation team said provides a way for the county to continue improving. The school system was also commended for good teamwork among the School Board, superintendent and administrative staff. But the evaluation team seemed most impressed with the district's self-assessment model.

"I got to tell you, the way you approached the standards assessment at the district level by engaging so many stakeholders was really terrific," said Nikki Armato, who chaired the evaluation team.

One of the district's weaknesses was performance gaps between schools, the team said.

"The way the student population has been dispersed into special schools and special learning opportunities has had the effect of creating limited achievement levels at some of the other schools," Armato said. …