Outside educators who visited Davis School District gave the district’s schools stellar marks.
In October, the district went through an intensive, voluntary accreditation process with the nonprofit Cognia (formerly AdvancED and Measured Progress), according to a district press release, and the district passed with flying colors.
Cognia is the oldest and largest accreditation body of its kind, said Mariama Tyler, Vice President of Public Relations for Cognia. The organization evaluates the quality of education provided in schools in 85 countries, according to its website.
Davis School District received Cognia’s highest rating, “impacting,” on the majority of areas evaluated.
“Everything that leads up to this data leads back to where the rubber meets the road, which is the classroom visits and what they saw with our teachers in the classroom,” said Superintendent Reid Newey during a recent meeting of district’s board of education, as recorded in the release. “I felt like that is what put us over the edge in the accreditation process.”
Just one area of evaluation had a score of “initiating,” the lowest acceptable rating. That area evaluated the degree to which “the learning culture promotes creativity, innovation and collaborative problem-solving,” according to a district accreditation summary document.
The summary mentions plans for the district to improve in that area by hosting the first national Solve !t Conference in June 2020, among other efforts. The conference will focus on problem-based learning.
The district earned an “Index of Education Quality” rating of 339, which is 56 points above the upper end of the national average, the releases says, and 53 points above the rating the district received by the same accreditation body in 2014.
Davis district remains the only school district in the state to be accredited for all levels, K-12, by Cognia, according to the district’s release and the directory of accredited districts and schools on Cognia’s website.
However, while Davis is the only accredited district, 479 schools across Utah are listed as accredited on Cognia’s website, including schools in Weber, Ogden and Box Elder school districts, as well as charter and private schools.
As part of the Cognia review, an 18-member accreditation team visited 255 Davis classrooms and conducted interviews with more than 700 people, including students, parents, district personnel and other stakeholders in the community, the release said.
The reviewers came from seven states, including Utah, according to the release.
“We go much more in depth because typically the states don’t require on-site review,” Tyler said. “They don’t require the in-depth level of ... third-party evaluations that we offer.”
Reviewers are volunteers, Tyler said, and the vast majority of them are current or former educators, including administrators.
The accreditation process does have a cost, which covers the travel expenses of the review team, Tyler said. Cognia does not mark up the cost and keep additional funds. Organizations must also be members of Cognia’s network in order to participate in the accreditation process.