Welcome to Quality Assurance!
“High-functioning schools and schools cited for their effectiveness do the right things, do them continuously, and always look for ways to improve. Schools that fail with comprehensive school reform do so not for lack of resources, other than time, but for want of determination and internal discipline.”
Dr. Sam Redding, The Mega System Handbook
Our system is committed to continuous improvement which means we are committed to being better tomorrow than we were today. Continuous improvement does not happen by accident. It is the result of carefully considered information and seeking answers to tough questions. What do we know about ourselves? How are our students performing? How do we know this information is accurate? What information do we need to collect? How will we work together to improve our outcomes? How do our stakeholders feel about our work? Brunswick County Schools follows a clearly defined model for continuous improvement which is referred to as “quality assurance.”
In 2007 Brunswick County School leaders made a decision to move to a system's accreditation model through AdvancED. This means that our system sets the course for improvement and provides support for all 19 of our schools. In other words, we are a school system not a system of individual schools. Being an accredited school system is very important to all of our students! It means that our programs and services meet internationally recognized standards of excellence. Accreditation means that our students’ high school diplomas are globally recognized by colleges, universities, and employers.
Our process of continuous improvement starts with the 5 AdvancED Quality Standards for Systems:
Standard 1: Purpose and Direction
The system maintains and communicates at all levels of the organization a purpose and direction for continuous improvement that commit to high expectations for learning as well as shared values and beliefs about teaching and learning.
Standard 2: Governance and Leadership
The system operates under governance and leadership that promote and support student performance and school effectiveness.
Standard 3: Teaching and Assessing for Learning
The system’s curriculum, instructional design, and assessment practices guide and ensure teacher effectiveness and student learning across all grades and courses.
Standard 4: Resources and Support Systems
The system has resources and provides services in all schools that support its purpose and direction to ensure success for all students.
Standard 5: Using Results for Continuous Improvement
The system implements a comprehensive assessment system that generates a range of data about student learning and system effectiveness and uses the results to guide continuous improvement.
These 5 standards drive the district’s strategic plan which outlines strategies for how the system will improve. To help focus on Standard 3: Teaching and Assessing for Learning, the district also has a clearly defined instructional improvement plan. These plans are the blueprints for improving student outcomes in our schools.
All schools in North Carolina are required to develop and implement a school improvement plan. Plans are written by members of the school improvement team and approved by the staff. These plans are reviewed and updated annually and monitored by team members, school administration, and system administrators. Every school in Brunswick County is also required to have an instructional focus. An instructional focus is a clearly defined instructional practice that can be implemented in every learning environment in the school. Every staff member receives explicit training on the instructional practice and it should be observable throughout the entire school. One example of an instructional focus might be to increase student engagement by incorporating collaborative pairs and groups in lessons. We encourage you to review each school’s improvement plan and instructional focus to learn more about what is happening in our classrooms!
The last component of our continuous improvement model is our annual quality assurance review or QAR. The QAR process is beneficial for our system for many reasons. First, the process helps to ensure that we are upholding AdvancED standards, particularly Standard 3: Teaching and Assessing for Learning. Second, the process serves as a powerful professional development tool for the team of Brunswick County teachers selected by their administration to participate. Third, the process allows system administrators to monitor the school’s improvement plan and efforts to implement the district’s instructional improvement plan.
All of these components are interconnected. It is very important staff, parents, and community members understand the different plans and the importance of the connections of the plans. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments.