A question all schools in Missouri, both public and private, must answer is if their respective district is complying with the guidelines that are established to meet their accreditation standards.
Public schools in Missouri are accredited through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) through a process known as MSIP.
According to DESE’s website, “MSIP 5 works to prepare every child for success in school and life. MSIP 5 is the state’s school accountability system for reviewing and accrediting public school districts in Missouri,”
“We have a very similar process in place that we must undergo to receive our accreditation,” Dr. Gary Manning, principal at Sacred Heart School, said. “Although our review is done by the diocese through their non-public school accreditation plan, we are still held to the same standards as other schools.”
The three-day review is completed every five years and evaluates the entire district from preschool through 12th grade.
This year Sacred Heart’s review was April 13-15. The district will receive the final report on the status of its audit at the end of July.
“The review team looks at everything from curriculum to our facilities in their review,” Manning said. “There are 12 standards that we have to address and really if you name it we are accountable for it.”
Sacred Heart began the task of assembling the required information in September 2015 by forming committees that would be responsible for gathering the necessary documentation for each of the standards.
Once the report is completed it is submitted to the Diocese for review. The on-site visits occur after the plan has been reviewed.
“A team from Jefferson City comes to the school for three days and reviews everything we have submitted to make sure we are actually doing what we say we are,” Manning said. “It is always good to have that outside set of eyes come in and review what we are doing.
“It truly is a beneficial tool because it shows us what we are doing well, but it also gives us areas we can improve upon,” Manning added. “It’s a good process because we can use it as a way to build and improve what we are doing.”
After the initial report, Manning said Sacred Heart had many strengths but also some areas to be addressed.
“Our academic focus throughout the school remains very strong,” Manning said. “We have a very rigorous curriculum and our students receive instruction in what they need to be successful in their transition from one grade level to another or from high school to college or the military or work force.
“We have high standards and expectations at Sacred Heart and we have a staff and school community that is very flexible and supportive of meeting the needs of our students,” Manning added. “The report commented that the climate at Sacred Heart is conducive to learning and that our teachers have clear expectations and support and teach model Christian values to the students.”
Manning commented two other strengths the district received were in the areas of use of technology in the classroom and the improvements made to the safety and security of the school.
There are areas the district wants to focus on and address as part of their review. One of those areas is the mission statement for the school.
“Our mission statement needs to be relevant and go along with our Catholic philosophy,” Manning said. “The dynamics of our school are always changing and today 30 percent of our student body is Hispanic or from an international background.
“As our community grows and changes Sacred Heart needs to grow and change as well,” he added.
A second area is the vertical and horizontal alignment of the school’s curriculum.
“We are always tweaking and working on our curriculum assessments,” Manning said. “As our test scores and data come in we are working to address areas where we see gaps and are looking for ways to make sure our students are getting what they need.”
“As part of the review we have to develop action plans to address how we will improve upon the areas that were listed as concerns,” Manning said. “Those plans will have to be submitted to the accreditation team by May 23.”
More than 50 faculty, staff and community members served on the accreditation team and Manning commented that he feels the process is a positive one for all involved but especially the students at Sacred Heart.
“We really appreciate the support of everyone who served on the review committee as well as everyone associated with Sacred Heart,” Manning said. “It is a valuable learning process that will help us with our No. 1 priority which is the success of our students.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484