TRENTON, N.J. — The Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS), in testimony before the Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessments in New Jersey, has proposed that the State Department of Education (DOE) use the Middle States accreditation standards as a cost-effective way to assess and improve elementary and secondary schools.
“The Middle States Association would welcome the opportunity to partner with the Christie administration as the Governor and DOE look for alternatives to the Common Core.” said Henry G. Cram, Ed.D., president of MSA-CESS. “New Jersey does not need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to establishing proven standards for assessing schools and improving performance. By partnering with the Middle States Association, the state could save significant taxpayer dollars, while helping schools and students achieve their fullest potential.”
Cram appeared before the Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessments in New Jersey on Friday, a day after Governor Christie announced that the Common Core school standards were not working for New Jersey.
Accreditation is a self-evaluation process that schools and school systems voluntarily undergo to demonstrate they are meeting a defined set of research-based performance standards. The standards examine schools in a holistic way, supplementing student-testing data to provide a more complete measure of a school’s performance and chart a strategic and realistic course for improvement.
The process begins with a self-study that is conducted by the school and school system and requires input from a coalition of school leaders, teachers, parents and students. Following the self-study, a team of volunteer educators from MSA-CESS-accredited schools conducts an on-site peer review visit to observe school operations and interview various stakeholders.
The visiting team then makes its recommendation to the Middle States Association Commissions, which votes on the recommendations at its biannual meetings.
MSA-CESS’ most recent survey of its accredited schools indicates that the overwhelming majority – 94 percent – feels that the accreditation process is a major factor in improving and/or maintaining their schools’ performance. Moreover, the majority of educators who volunteer to participate on an accreditation team cite the experience as a tool for professional development.
“Going through the accreditation process helped our district identify opportunities for growth and improvement and resulted in tangible action items to help our students and teachers excel,” said Bergenfield School District Superintendent Michael Kuchar, Ed.D. “The process united our teachers, administrators, parents, and students in developing a strategic plan that is specific to the unique needs of our district and has directly resulted in increased student achievement districtwide. Accreditation is undoubtedly more effective and cost-efficient over the long-term than other evaluation processes.”
About Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS)
Based in Philadelphia, Pa., the Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools is a worldwide leader in accreditation and school improvement. For over 125 years, we have been helping school leaders establish and reach their goals, develop strategic plans, promote staff development and advance student achievement. With more than 2,700 accredited schools and school systems in 34 states and nearly 100 countries, MSA-CESS is proud of its continuing legacy and its ongoing innovations to meet the challenges of the 21st century and improve educational opportunities for all children. For more information about MSA-CESS visit www.msa-cess.com.