The Houston County Board of Education, its administration, faculty and staff should all take a bow. The AdvanceED review team that had visited the system last year and is responsible for granting accreditation to the system did so officially last week. Though it was no surprise -- AdvanceED had given the system a tentative nod last November -- it was still a final recognition that the system is cooking with gas when it comes to educating its more than 26,000 students.
AdvanceED makes systems dot all i’s and cross all t’s. It is almost impossible to anticipate all of the documentation a system needs to have in order to be reaccredited. AdvanceED told the system it had but two action items. The district has to review its grading and reporting policies and make sure those policies are consistent throughout the district and across the various instructional areas, and it has to put measurable goals behind its school improvement plans. It’s not good enough to say there are plans to make a school improve; AdvanceED wants the system to specify how high it expects a school or schools to jump.
Houston, along with the state’s other 179 school districts, wants to stay ahead of the curve. It is an economic imperative. When industries seek to relocate, one of the first items they look for is whether an area has an educated workforce. Houston County, according to census data, has a high school graduation rate of 87.9 percent for residents 25 years of age or higher, 3.5 percent better than the state average.
And while it’s a team effort, much of the hard work is done where the rubber meets the road -- in the classroom. And for that, we have to thank the principals and teachers at every one of Houston County’s schools.
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It is also a testament to the leadership of outgoing Superintendent Robin Hines and his team. His replacement will be named next month, and Hines is leaving his successor with a system that is in good shape academically, fiscally and with an infrastructure that is ready for the challenges of the next decade.