Gwinnett schools retain accreditation, earn high marks from agency

Gwinnett County Public Schools has retained accreditation for another five years. In the process, the district earned high praise from the agency that reviewed the district.

Cognia, the state’s largest accrediting agency, also said areas of needed improvement cited in a special review last year had been resolved.

“We are committed to improving and sustaining high-quality student learning, while improving effectiveness and efficiency throughout our district,” Superintendent Calvin Watts said in a news release. “Though we are not perfect, this report provides evidence that we are making perfect progress.”

Andre Harrison, vice president of Cognia, presented two reports to the school board on Friday..

He said Cognia interviewed about 300 Gwinnett employees, students and other community members as part of the accreditation process.

ExploreGwinnett school district keeps full accreditation after special review

Harrison said Gwinnett, the largest school district in Georgia, was at the highest level rating in most of the 31 standards the agency considers. He said the curriculum and instruction ratings were among the best he’s seen since he started working for Cognia in 2007.

“That goes back to curriculum leaders, people in the schools and the central office working together.” Harrison said. “This means good things are happening inside your school buildings.”

He emphasized that the district should strive for continuous improvement, pointing out places where the district met, but did not exceed, standards. Still, he told the board and district staff to “take a moment and clap for yourselves.”

Cognia advised district leaders that they could improve in providing individualized help and resources for students. The agency also said assessments of various programs should be more consistent across the district.

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Harrison also provided an update on a special review Cognia conducted last year after receiving complaints from some residents. That review said Gwinnett would remain accredited but identified two areas of improvement for the school board — following its own policies and working within the board’s defined roles.

Harrison’s said that the board had addressed those issues and is in compliance with Cognia’s standards. School districts typically undergo the accreditation process every five years. Gwinnett’s accreditation was set to expire in June.

Accreditation shows colleges and the community that a school district is meeting educational standards. In Georgia, students who meet certain eligibility requirements and graduate from accredited high schools can receive a HOPE scholarship.

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