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Rome City Schools aces accreditation review

May 5, 2021–7:00 p.m.


Rome City Schools is not only recommended for reaccreditation but the system was also commended for performances well above the average in a recent review by Cognia (formerly AdvancED).

The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization conducts on-site and virtual reviews of school systems across the world for accreditation. Cognia defines continuous improvement as, “an embedded behavior rooted in an institution’s culture that constantly focuses on conditions, processes, and practices to improve teaching and learning.”

Accreditation is pivotal in leveraging education quality and continuous improvement.

A four-member team of educators from Cognia reviewed evidence, interviewed stakeholders, and attended a presentation by Louis Byars, Superintendent of Rome City Schools, during the three-day review visit in February. During the review of system evidence and interviews, the Cognia team gained a broad understanding of the district’s quality and rated effectiveness of the Performance Standards based on three Domains: Leadership Capacity, Learning Capacity, and Resource Capacity.

The system’s final review report was announced yesterday, and Rome City Schools earned a system IEQ (Index of Education Quality) score of 381.6. The maximum score is 400. This score is also 100 points higher than the average score of 278-283 earned by other institutions that have undergone a Cognia review within the last five years. Rome City Schools earned the highest score possible in 30 out of 31 standards.

Superintendent Byars is incredibly pleased with the results of the review but is not surprised. “I have always said we have the best school system around, but it is great to see this reflected in an external review, especially one from the Cognia Global Accreditation Commission,” Byars said.  “Rome City Schools’ score of 381.61 on a 400-point scale is a testament to the work of our RCS School Board, leaders, teachers, support staff, parents, students, and our entire community. I am blessed to work with such great people and in a great community.”

The Cognia review team identified five themes that resonated with them throughout their visits with students, teachers, parents, community partners, and system leaders.

The first theme identified is that system initiatives are aligned to the purpose and mission of the system. The review report states, “The system’s continuous improvement plan targets specific actions aligned to the mission, that all students will graduate prepared for college and work.”

In particular, the review team praised the expansion of CTAE, AP, and dual enrollment offerings. According to the report, “The expansion of courses to meet individual student goals guides decisions to provide a wide range of offerings to meet students’ interests to improve the graduation rate.”

The second theme that the review team noted is that “committed, forward-thinking leaders support programs and services that ensure all decisions are student-centered.” The team also noted that “all system leaders embrace and celebrate the diverse student population” and described the superintendent and cabinet leaders as “visionaries with an intentional focus on student-centered decision-making.”

Another theme that emerged from the review was a focus on instruction within Rome City Schools. The review team stated that “curriculum and instruction are focused on student learning and growth” and “parents of graduates observed that their students were well-prepared for study at the next level.”

The fourth theme that was identified was that leaders intentionally align resources to strategic goals and priorities. In particular, “The system demonstrates strategic resource management that includes long-range planning in the use of resources to support the purpose and goals.”

The last theme noted in the review report is that the system embraces a data-driven culture. The team stated, “Data are consistently used to inform improvement planning, evaluation of programs and practices, and instructional practice.”

“Everyone did an outstanding job. We are certainly proud of our outcome and our score of 381.6 on a 400-point scale is phenomenal,” said Board Chairperson, Faith Collins.

Find the full Cognia review report on the Rome City Schools system website.