The chairman of a quality assurance review team has informed the Helena-West Helena School Board that while the district appears to be “going in the right direction,” there is room for improvement.

 

  The chairman of a quality assurance review team has informed the Helena-West Helena School Board that while the district appears to be “going in the right direction,” there is room for improvement.
 Jesse Cleveland, a retired Alabama school administrator, and the four other team members who conducted a thorough evaluation of the school system, outlined the panel’s recommendations that go along with accreditation for the next five years as follow:
•Develop innovative and proactive strategies to stop the district’s high school dropout rate.
•Create a system that will develop more ways for students to enroll in elective courses and participate in extracurricular activities.
 •Create a system that offer different solutions to problems.
 •Validate documentation by having a written plan and maintain those strategies.
   In short, Cleveland said, the school district needed to improve its efficiency and accountability by “fixing problems and going on to other problems” and “to have students get involved.”
   The other four panelists included vice chair Renella Clemons from the South Mississippi County School District; Joyce Craft, superintendent of the Hot Springs School District; Tim Taylor, an elementary principal at Pine Bluff Watson Chapel, and John Walker, a long-time administrator from New Orleans.
   They worked through AdvancEd, the unified organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement.
Cleveland noted that AdvancEd encompasses 27,000 public and private schools and districts nationwide and in 65 countries worldwide.
Cleveland said the team gathered data based on interviews with six of the seven board members, 24 administrators, 40 teachers, 46 members of the district’s support staff, 52 parents, community and business parties and 23 students.
Calling the H-WH School District “progressive,” Cleveland said the quality assurance process does not base its decisions on “test scores alone” for accreditation.  
“We found that your district has many hard working teachers,” Cleveland said. “There are a lot of learning tools in place and caring teachers.”
   Cleveland said the panel recognized that enrollment had declined sharply from about 1,200 students in 2000 to 688 in 2009-2010.
   A complete report of the team’s evaluation will be forthcoming soon, Cleveland said.
   When asked about the possibility of the district being placed on probation, Cleveland said his team’s role was to approve accreditation.
   “We do not have the authority,” to place a district on probation, Cleveland said. That decision would come from the state Department of Education, he added.