Virginia Schools Sign Agreement with SACS CASI for School Division Accreditations

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was founded in 1895. It is a voluntary, nongovernmental agency with more than 13,000 accredited colleges, universities, secondary, middle and elementary schools. The Council on Accreditation and School Improvements (CASI) is a division of SACS and accredits pre-kindergarten, K-12 and vocational schools in 11 southern states, as well as several other countries.

In the spring of 2006, the Virginia schools signed an agreement with SACS CASI. Under this agreement, Virginia schools divisions will be encouraged to pursue accreditation with the Council. The agreement complements Virginia schools already rigorous accreditation standards and will build strong foundations for continued growth in learning and achievement within each school and each school division.

Only Virginia schools divisions may be accredited by SACS CASI. To quality, all schools within a division also must be fully accredited under the Commonwealth’s Standards of Learning accountability program. This encourages and rewards the use of best practices at all levels of the school division.

Additionally, a joint steering committee will coordinate the:

• Division accrediting process,
• Training and technical support,
• Recognition for achieving accreditation, and
• Will encourage all Virginia schools divisions to participate in the program.

Though the program is voluntary for the school divisions, the Virginia schools views the agreement as an incentive for its schools to accelerate their current efforts to improve instruction and increase scholastic achievement.

The SACS CASI accreditation process compares the Virginia schools’ policies, practices and conditions with SACS CASI’s standards. They look at several different best practice areas, such as governance, instruction, accountability, management, planning and sustained improvement.

Accredited Virginia schools demonstrate their commitment to best practices, quality instruction, and increased academic achievement. It is a way to implement a systematic approach to these goals at all levels within the school divisions.

An added benefit is to the state and local Virginia schools leaders, who share these promising best practices with other accredited schools across the nation.

At the time of this writing, both Hanover and Roanoke County school divisions have been accredited by SACS CASI. Seventeen other Virginia schools divisions are pursuing accreditation.

With encouragement from both SACS CASI and the Virginia schools, we should see many other school divisions with accreditation from the Council within the next few years.

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