The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 10, 2013

St. Peter Schools get high marks from accreditation team

ST PETER — St. Peter Public Schools received high marks Wednesday during a unique district evaluation process by a visiting team that will be recommending the district for accreditation again.

The team was from AdvancED, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that accredits mostly individual schools throughout the U.S. and also internationally. District accreditation is a much more rigorous process, which is why few districts seek out the voluntary accreditation, said Richard Schoonover, part of the five-member group that conducted the evaluation of St. Peter’s district.

In fact, St. Peter was the first district in the state to go through the accreditation process in 2007, said Supt. Jeff Olson. Because the process has to be renewed every five years, the volunteers with AdvancED — who came from across the country with various education backgrounds — arrived Sunday in St. Peter to begin the evaluation.

The team observed in 34 classrooms districtwide and interviewed dozens of teachers, students, parents, school leaders, School Board members and caregivers.

St. Peter principals, teachers and administrators gathered for a special School Board meeting Wednesday, some anxiously waiting to hear how they’re doing and how they can improve.

Scores from 1 to 4 were awarded in a variety of areas with 2.2-2.4 being an average score for all categories. Schoonover said a 3 is considered very good, and scores close to 4 are rare.

St. Peter’s breakdown was: purpose and direction, 3; resources and support systems, 3; teaching and assessing for learning, 2.92; governance and leadership, 3.17; and using results for continuous improvement, 2.8.

“You’ve got a very good district here,” said Schoonover, a retired school administrator from Nebraska.

Schoonover described Wednesday’s report as a “fingernail summary” with the comprehensive written report expected in a few weeks. But the broad strokes, he said, are that the district has established a strong leadership development program; has a strong collaborative structure that supports student engagement and learning; monitors and responds to curriculum needs based on data analysis; and manages resources well.

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