After extensive interviews, reviewing a self study, examining student academics, and observing classrooms, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and AdvancED have renewed Haywood County Schools’ district accreditation.

“Renewing our accreditation is such a tremendous accomplishment for our school system and community,” Dr. Bill Nolte, Haywood County Schools associate superintendent, said. “It reflects the high quality of education we offer and the dedication of our faculty and staff to continuous improvement.”

Nolte said receiving accreditation signifies that a school district is providing quality services and meeting the standards for best practices in education.

AdvancED is the largest education accrediting agency in the world and serves over 32,000 institutions with more than 20 million students worldwide.

The AdvancED review team included experienced members from four states. Team members met and interviewed 194 people about the school system, including principals, teachers, staff members, parents, community leaders, and business partners.

While visiting the district’s schools, the AdvancED review team assessed the quality of teaching and learning in 58 different classrooms. The results rated Haywood County Schools measurably higher than the majority of accredited schools in seven key areas: equitable learning, high expectations, supportive learning, active learning, progress monitoring and feedback, well-managed learning, and digital learning.

Using the results from classroom observations, along with interviews, student academic performance data, stakeholder surveys, and school system documents, AdvancED created ratings in the areas of teaching and learning, leadership capacity, and resource utilization. These three ratings produced an overall rating of 291.46, which is 12 points higher than the average for other accredited school systems.

In its final review, the AdvancED team noted two powerful practices of Haywood County Schools: a culture that builds on a tradition of high academic performance and a continuous improvement process that models shared leadership resulting in a commitment to student success.

“We have a lot of people doing a lot of work,” Nolte said. “The cumulative impact of our supportive community, businesses, teachers, parents, students, and volunteers is what makes Haywood County Schools successful.”

As part of the accreditation process, the review team is required to find a minimum of one improvement priority. Haywood County Schools was given the task to “create and implement pacing guides and curriculum frameworks at the secondary level.”

Nolte said that AdvancED’s improvement priority is already a part of the school system’s continuous improvement plan, and administrators are working with middle and high school teachers to make beneficial changes.

In 2007, Haywood County Schools became one of the first 20 school systems in North Carolina and one of the first 100 school systems in the nation to become district-level accredited.

Haywood County Schools participates in an external review with AdvancED every five years in order to maintain accreditation.

Continued accreditation status is important for every school system for a variety of reasons, Nolte said.

“Accreditation attracts families to our area because they can feel confident sending their children to our schools,” Nolte said. “It also says to the public that our school system has gone through the accreditation process from a third-party and is providing the most effective, efficient, and up-to-date education practices.”

Nolte also explained that high school credits are automatically accepted from accredited schools, which is especially important for students who transfer schools and students who need high school credits included in college certification and degree programs.

Contact: Jenny Wood Valliere, Haywod County Schools Foundation Executive Director
Carrie Sutton, Haywood County Schools Foundation Marketing Assistant