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Cognia says DeKalb School Board has made progress on accreditation standard

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Cognia says DeKalb School Board has made progress on accreditation standard

Cognia, which accredits schools, says DeKalb County's School Board is improving. Image obtained via DeKalb County Schools

DeKalb County, GA — In a virtual meeting on March 6, accrediting agency Cognia told the DeKalb County Board of Education that the district’s leadership team had improved based on the results of a monitoring review. 

Cognia reviews school systems to ensure they meet certain standards, provides accreditations and certifications based on these reviews, and offers a variety of professional improvement services to address areas of deficiency. 

Cognia has been watching the board closely because the board tends to pursue individual interests instead of working for the whole district. In January 2023, Decaturish reported that Cognia hadn’t progressed much in working through its issues. The district met with Cognia in November. The board discussed the results of that visit with Cognia during the March 6 meeting. Cognia was specifically interested in how the board met standard 1.5, which expects the board to adhere “to a code of ethics”  and function “within defined roles and responsibilities.”

This monitoring review is part of but slightly different from Cognia’s standard six-year accreditation engagement review, which is set to happen before June 30, 2027.  

During the November review, Cognia representatives focused on the DeKalb County Schools leadership team by interviewing stakeholders within the district in order to review the board’s progress on its directives. These directives served as the base for the evaluation and can be viewed here (on page 12). 

Cognia evaluates DeKalb County on a four-level scale: Insufficient, Initiating, Improving, and Impacting.

Last year, the district was determined to be “Initiating,” with several comments from stakeholders critiquing the lack of collaboration and collegiality between board members. Now, the school district is deemed to be “improving,” according to Cognia.

“Improving” signifies the district is “pinpoint[ing] quality practices that are improving and meet[ing] the Standards.”  Specifics of the interviews were not shared during the March 6 meeting, but the Cognia representative commended the district on this new status. The board briefly discussed the next steps: sharing the full findings of the review and continuing to fully implement the policies and procedures the board laid out before the full accreditation review. 

In other business, the board also discussed the language of its core beliefs, vision, and mission statement as part of refining its strategic plan based on feedback from a steering committee. 

The prevalence of mental health struggles in the district was a significant point of discussion, as well as the intersectional path toward meeting seemingly separate goals. 

Board Member Allyson Gevertz said, “There is a lot of research to show that when kids cannot read, they misbehave… After third grade you’re reading to learn, when you can’t read to learn, you are gonna disrupt class, and you’re not going to perform.”

The steering committee didn’t make formal recommendations about teaching financial literacy, but the board members said it’s essential for students to be successful.

The board generally tried to tighten the language of the Strategic plan, making sure the written goals provided a summary of the district’s aspirations and the approach it will take to achieve them.

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