September 30, 2010 by wcobserver
By Susan McCarthy
West Fork- He may only be in his first quarter as West Fork’s new superintendent, but John Karnes has completed his first mission; the school district received international accreditation last Wednesday.
“I’m so proud of all of our stakeholders. It’s been a great experience going through this…it’s a great experience as a first-year superintendent,” said Karnes following a preliminary report in which the school learned it had been awarded high marks and international accreditation by AdvancEd. “I feel like we’ve got a good school here and it’s great to have you validate that.”
An AdvancEd team of five school administrators from Arkansas, Missouri and New Mexico visited West Fork Schools last week as part of an on-site Quality Assurance Review, visiting each of the district’s three schools and interviewing 173 people including board members, teachers, support staff, students and members of the West Fork community. The AdvancEd team evaluated West Fork’s schools on seven standards to determine how well its programs, culture and community of stakeholders work together to meet the needs of its students. The process is voluntary and was put in motion last year by former superintendent, Diane Barrett.
Before departing, the team presented its key findings including four commendations and three required actions. West Fork received “operational” on all seven standards.
“That’s a high compliment. That’s like getting all A’s,” said Kathy Reifschneider, a member of the evaluation team who traveled from Festus, Missouri, to help conduct the review.
West Fork received high marks for having a collaborative culture, for being good stewards of public funds, for showing pride in its facilities and other physical resources and for using data consistently to analyze student performance and drive instruction.
Reifschneider said every school receives a list of required actions as part of the evaluation process and that the school district has two years to provide a written response to the three required actions. The West Fork School District was asked to:
-Identify best in class practices that fuel learning and to formalize those in writing so they can be shared and implemented by others.
-Implement methods to listen and to communicate with all of the school’s stakeholders including students, staff, parents, business and community members and higher education institutions.
-Communicate targeted improvements and the system for measuring them to all stakeholders, tightening the link between the school district’s five year plan and its improvement plan.
“We’ve worked very hard and we’re pleased to have passed,” said Leticia Greene, a third grade teacher in West Fork. “We plan to use their recommendations to improve our school.”
West Fork will receive a comprehensive written report of the AdvancEd findings in about 30 days, according to Reifschneider. AdvancEd has accredited 27,000 school in the U.S. and 69 countries.