A team of accreditation educators Wednesday granted full preliminary national accreditation to Richland 1, saying its administrators, teachers, staff members and parents have a "passionate commitment" to educating the whole child.
A cheer rose in the board room of Richland 1's administration building as the team's vice chairman, W. Darrell Barringer, announced the results of its report and the recommendations it will forward to the AdvancEd Accreditation Commission.
Accreditation gives a district cachet, helping lure talented teachers and students to the classroom.
The commission is the umbrella accreditation organization for the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and the National Study of School Evaluation (NSSE).
The announcement followed a yearlong process, culminating in three days of on-site investigation. During the three days, Barringer said, the team spoke to 84 administrators, 227 teachers, 42 support staffers, 149 parents and community leaders, and 217 students.
The district now must respond to recommendations for improvement and implement a plan of action within two years, a process superintendent Percy Mack said the district would embrace enthusiastically.
"It is our goal to take this full accreditation that you have bestowed upon us and use it as a benchmark to go forward," Mack said.
All Richland 1 schools have been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) for many years.
Three years ago, SACS merged with two other organizations to form a unified national organization called AdvancED (Advancing Excellence in Education). Instead of evaluating schools individually, the AdvancED district accreditation process looks at how school systems work as a whole to meet student needs.