Converse County School District #1 received good news Wednesday afternoon when a review team from the AdvancED accreditation agency recommended full accreditation for the district. The review team commended the district on the extensive learning supports in place for every student, hiring and retaining highly qualified and effective staff, and the system’s sustained leadership and governance structures.
The team noted that the district’s learning supports “ensure success for all students” and provide students “with necessary skills in a safe, supportive, learning environment.” They also offered accolades to the district regarding the collegial professional working relationships and aura of mutual respect noted across the entire organization.
The stability of the leadership in administration and at the school board level was noted as a strength. The team also mentioned the safety record of the transportation department, the well-maintained facilities, and the Wyoming buffalo chili served during school lunch.
Each accredited district also receives feedback from the team to improve their practices. The districts are required to address what AdvancED calls “improvement priorities” within two years. The improvement priorities for Converse County School District #1 had to do with aligning practices across the district from kindergarten to 12th grade. For instance, the team mentioned having the same grading policies and practices and making sure that the curriculum is aligned across all grade levels and schools.
Converse #1 superintendent Dr. Dan Espeland said that the team’s findings verified the good work that is happening throughout the district. Because the district is always looking to upgrade services for students, the recommendations for improvement are welcomed. But Dr. Espeland noted, “There were no surprises in the team’s findings. We know what we need to work on. In many cases, we are already doing so.”
AdvancED gives each school district an overall score called an Index of Educational Quality (IEQ). Converse #1’s IEQ score of 300.70 is well above the average of all institutions accredited by the agency. The highest score an organization can receive is 400, and the average is 278.03. AdvancED accredits over 32,000 institutions across the United States and the world including every Wyoming district, Department of Defense Schools, international schools, and private institutions.
The visiting review team, consisting of seven members, visited 71 classrooms in each school in the district. The team members fill out an evaluation of those classroom learning environments consisting of seven different areas. Converse #1 scored higher than the average on six of seven of those measures.
During the three-day visit, the team interviewed 156 stakeholders in the district and community including school board members, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, business members, and students. Superintendent Espeland noted the importance of the input from the people the team talked to and said, “the district wants to thank everyone who assisted the district in preparing for the visit and for their time during the visit itself. It’s our staff, students, and community that make the district so strong.”