LAPS seeks district-wide accreditation

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Education: Firm will scrutinize schools and provide feedback

By Tris DeRoma

By next Wednesday afternoon, the Los Alamos Public School District should exactly know where it stands with “AdvancED,” an organization that accredits schools.

According to Assistant Superintendent Paula Dean, AdvancED officials won’t just be involved in accrediting Los Alamos High School, but the entire school district.

“For decades, only high schools have been accredited,” Dean said. “However, over the last couple of years, there’s been the possibility of having an entire district accredited and the agency that does the accrediting is called AdvancED.”

Dean added that there’s a possibility that LAPS could possibly be the first or the second public school district in New Mexico to achieve district-wide accreditation. District-wide accreditation is becoming more important to school districts as today’s students face stiffer academic competition not only nationally, but globally as well.

“District-wide accreditation would assure that the things that we do, such as professional development, instructional strategies and our curriculum are coordinated throughout the whole district,” Dean said. “It would also help us be recognized as a high quality district, because we are willing to apply for this higher level of scrutiny.”

However, Dean said, the biggest advantage will be in gaining a real awareness as to what the district is doing well, and what it isn’t.

“We’re hoping to use this as a learning tool,” Dean said. “Every accreditation that is done by AdvancED requires the organization to give the school district a rundown of recommended or required action. They will look closely at our work and make suggestions in what we must do to step it up a notch.”

The accreditation team will arrive Monday and finish up Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon, members of the team will give them a report on their findings at a special school board meeting.

According to AdvancED’s agenda, members of the accreditation team will take Monday to meet at LAPS headquarters to review and evaluate data. Tuesday the AdvancEd team will visit  Mountain, Barranca Mesa and Chamisa Elementary Schools.

Interviews with staff and parents are scheduled for the morning.

The high school visit is set for Tuesday afternoon.

According to a press release about AdvancED, the organization serves more than 30,000 public and private schools and districts across the United States and more than 70 countries.