March 21, 2006
Director of Communications
Public Information Officer
School Divisions Encouraged to Seek SACS CASI Accreditation
The Virginia Department of Education has signed an agreement with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) to encourage school divisions to seek SACS CASI accreditation as an incentive for accelerating efforts to improve instruction and raise student achievement.
The voluntary SACS CASI accreditation process compares policies, practices, and conditions within a school division with SACS CASI standards for governance, leadership, instruction, accountability, student services, management, planning, communications, and continuous improvement.
By earning SACS CASI accreditation, school divisions demonstrate their commitment to best practices, quality instruction, and increased student achievement. Under the agreement announced today, all schools within a division must be fully accredited under the commonwealth’s Standards of Learning (SOL) accountability program for the division to earn SACS CASI accreditation.
“The SACS CASI process for school divisions complements Virginia’s rigorous accreditation standards for individual schools,” said Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright. “It is a process that encourages and rewards the institutionalization of best practices at the division level and in every school within a division. By meeting SACS CASI standards, school divisions will build a strong foundation for sustained growth in learning and achievement.”
Under the memorandum of agreement signed by the department and SACS CASI, a joint steering committee appointed by Dr. Wright and SACS CASI Chief Executive Officer Mark A. Elgart will coordinate the division accrediting process and encourage its use by school divisions. The steering committee also will coordinate training and technical support, and recognition for school divisions that earn SACS CASI accreditation.
“We are pleased to share in Virginia’s commitment to school excellence and student success through this joint agreement,” said Dr. Elgart. “The SACS CASI accreditation process ensures that school divisions implement a systemic approach to continuous improvement that is imbedded at all levels of the division. Virginia’s state and local education leaders also will benefit from sharing promising practices with the growing number of school systems in other states that are using SACS CASI District Accreditation.”
Two Virginia school divisions, Hanover County and Roanoke County, are currently accredited by SACS CASI, and 17 others are pursuing SACS CASI accreditation.
Founded in 1895, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is a voluntary, nongovernmental agency composed of more than 13,000 accredited colleges and universities, elementary, middle, and secondary schools. The Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, a division of SACS, accredits pre-Kindergarten, K-12 and vocational schools in 11 Southern states, as well as the countries of Mexico, Central and South America, islands of the Caribbean, and other geographic areas.