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CKS gets accredited

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By Kellie Parkin

For the first time in island history, Cedar Key seniors will graduate from an accredited high school.

This month an accreditation team spent two days at the school conducting interviews with students, parents, faculty, as well as observing teachers instructing classes. The team was impressed by the high quality of education, the leadership witnessed in the school and the support of the community.

“We enjoyed peeking into your unique school, meeting the students and staff and soaking up the charm of your town. Even in this short time frame it was very clear to us the deep level of caring and commitment the entire community feels towards Cedar Key School. Your entire community is to be commended for their efforts involving this process,” the accreditation team stated in a letter to the school.

“For years we were told that we couldn’t ever be accredited,” said CKS Principal Sue Ice. The past accreditation process was geared toward large schools and by its very requirements excluded small schools like Cedar Key, she said. Under the old guidelines, the number of books in the library, the number of square footage of the facility and the number of staff were all too small to qualify CKS for accreditation.

Now high quality small schools can become accredited. The guidelines have been redrawn by the Southern Association of College Schools Councils on Accreditation and School Improvement. SACS CASI was founded in 1895 and accredits over 13,000 schools and school systems throughout the United States and overseas, according to its Web site www.sacscasi.org.

Instead of focusing on size, the new guidelines outline seven categories in which schools must maintain and make ongoing advances and improvements: Vision and Purpose, Leadership, Teaching and Learning, Documenting and Using Results, Resources and Support Systems, Stakeholder Communications and Relationships, and Commitment to Continuous Improvement.

The SACS accreditation team commended CKS in four areas: clear vision and mission; safe, secure and clean campus; strong leadership; and high student engagement.

CKS began the accreditation process last March, documenting the implementation and practice in each area. The completed documentation was filed Aug. 24, the first day of school, Principal Ice said.

As of 2011 all high schools in Florida will have to be accredited to compete athletically in the Florida High School Activities Association. Bronson Middle High School will host an onsite visit from SACS in November.

Besides holding schools to high standards, students who graduate from accredited schools may have more options when applying to college, Ice said.

Earlier this year Cedar Key School was named one of the nation’s best high schools by the US News and World Report. The award means that CKS ranks among the top 14 percent of schools in the nation. The study compared 21,069 public schools in 48 states and evaluated them on three criteria: standardized test scores, progress of economically challenged students, and college readiness.

“Our faculty and staff work very hard to be conscientious about providing an excellent education covering the Sunshine State Standards, and beyond that, providing enrichment,” Principal Ice said at the time. 

The accreditation team agreed that CKS provides high quality education. “We look forward to your continued success as part of the Florida public education system and would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations on earning our team recommendation that SACS issue Cedar Key School Accreditation status. Go Sharks!”

 

 

Letter from the Accreditation Team

We would like to commend the members of Cedar Key School for their hospitality during our Accreditation Site visit. We enjoyed peeking into your unique school, meeting the students and staff and soaking up the charm of your town.

Even in this short time frame it was very clear to us the deep level of caring and commitment the entire community feels towards Cedar Key School. From BJ’s thoughtful snacks, to the welcoming smiles and hugs from children as we visited classrooms, we were impressed by the levels of leadership embedded in the school culture that foster such a nurturing environment.

Your entire community is to be commended for their efforts involving this process. We look forward to your continued success as part of the Florida public education system and would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations on earning our team recommendation that SACS issue Cedar key School Accreditation status. Go Sharks!

 - The SACS Accreditation Team