Central Junior High School should be among the first schools in the state to receive Quality Performance Accreditation, a report recommends.
A state accreditation team has given Central Junior High School high marks and a special award, spoils of four years of hard and sometimes frustrating work, school officials said.
The team will recommend that the Kansas State Board of Education accredit Central under the Quality Performance Accreditation system. If the board concurs in May, Central will be in the first group of schools to be accredited under QPA.
"It's not like we're done now," Principal Ted Juneau said. "We're starting over again."
What the recommendation means is that the school met the goals it had identified as needs for its students. Central had targeted writing and inclusion. The idea is for the school to identify two new targets for the next four years.
Teachers and administrators sometimes struggled to keep up with paperwork and other demands of QPA, Juneau said. Central was one of a handful of secondary schools from 50 districts who piloted the program.
Juneau anticipates the next review period to proceed with fewer frustrations. "Hopefully we can help some people in this district and statewide," he said.
The accreditation team also gave the school a special certificate, recognizing its achievements in including children with disabilities in regular classrooms. The team praised the school for surveying parents about inclusion and responding to the results.
Inclusion gets tricky in secondary education, resource teacher Ron Swall said. There are more children, more teachers and schedules that change every hour.
"I wish there were some secrets," he said. "I think for the most part we have been successful because there are just a lot of dedicated and energetic teachers here."
Andrea Parson, an English and social studies teacher, said English teachers all sought several hours of training in a new writing assessment, known as six-trait writing. Writing skills are emphasized across the curriculum, she said.
The recommendation was reassuring. "We're delighted," Parson said.
The state board adopted QPA in 1991 as a way to measure student outcomes rather than "inputs," such as the number of library books, explained Jeannette Nobo, coordinator for the state outcomes-based education team.
The board has yet to adopt consequences for schools that fail to gain accreditation, she said.