Cobb County high schools earn dual accreditation

High schools in the Cobb County School District are now accredited by two different agencies. (Courtesy of Cobb County School District)

Credit: Cobb County School District

Credit: Cobb County School District

High schools in the Cobb County School District are now accredited by two different agencies. (Courtesy of Cobb County School District)

Cobb County high schools are now dually accredited, the district recently announced.

The district’s 17 high schools were evaluated by the Georgia Accrediting Commission earlier this year. Each school earned the agency’s highest ranking, “accredited with quality.”

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said the move has nothing to do with the district’s existing accreditation from Cognia, the state’s largest agency. Last year, the agency released a critical review of the district before reversing most of its criticism a few months later. The district’s accreditation status never changed.

“This has no bearing on Cognia accreditation, nor does it even insinuate that we’re looking to do something different with Cognia accreditation,” Ragsdale said. “This was already in motion and it’s just a good plan to have, as many of the large districts (are) dually accredited for their high schools.”

News that the district was consulting with the Georgia Accrediting Commission came after Cognia completed a special review of the district in 2021. Cognia initiated the review after receiving complaints from board members, residents and teachers. The complaints focused on the board’s governance and financial decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The original review found that the board rushed into policy changes and did not properly vet spending decisions. Released in November, it gave the board one year to address these issues. But the agency walked back most of the review’s findings in March. It commended the board for its fiscal responsibility and for following correct procedures when implementing policy changes.

The agency maintained that the board was not working together effectively.

“You are divided,” Cognia CEO Mark Elgart told board members in March. “It’s highly evident.”

Three of the board’s seven members were among the complainants that led to the review. The three Black Democratic members accused the four white Republican members of preventing them from speaking at meetings or adding items to the agenda.

The reversal of most of Cognia’s original criticism did not sit well with those board members.

“I’m glad to see that we’re seeking this additional layer of accreditation, especially in light of Cognia’s inability to adequately provide guidance to a district like ours,” Charisse Davis, one of the board members who complained, said last week.

The Cobb County School District paid $3,000 for the Georgia Accrediting Commission to review its high schools, and will pay $850 annually. Cognia accredits the entire district rather than individual schools. The district pays more than $100,000 for its membership annually.

Although Georgia law does not require that districts be accredited, students must graduate from accredited high schools to take advantage of the state’s college scholarship programs.