Portales schools seeking international accreditation

Alisa Boswell

The Portales Municipal School district is working toward international accreditation through AdvancED New Mexico of Albuquerque, an organization which is accredits school districts in 66 countries, including public, private, charter schools.

According to AdvancED New Mexico Director Priscilla Fernandez, the Portales district has already completed the application process, which includes a self-evaluation by the school district.

If accepted, Portales will be one of 12 school districts in New Mexico accredited with AdvancED.

She said last year, there were only two school districts in New Mexico involved in the program.

“AdvancED District Accreditation is a powerful systems approach to improving student performance results over time,” Fernandez said. “District Accreditation recognizes that increasing student achievement involves more than improving instruction. It is a result of how well all the parts of the education system—the district, school, and classroom—work together to meet the needs of students.”

The corporation’s mission statement says the accreditation process “invites school districts to collaborate in reviewing the quality of the district’s systems and their contributions to teaching and learning.”

Fernandez said one of the most important parts of this process is the individual faculty and administration members of the school district evaluating themselves and their schools in order to give AdvancED members an idea of how their district is run and the way each individual member of the district views the process.

Fernandez said after an evaluation by AdvancED professionals, one of five levels will be given to the district, which include partial, probationary and full accreditation.

“I have been very impressed with Portales because they have shown commitment and dedication to the program,” Fernandez said. “It’s a rigorous process and you have to be committed to get through it. The leaders of the Portales district have already demonstrated passion and commitment to this process.”

Portales Municipal Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said the district is ahead of schedule, having started six months ago. He said most school districts take two years to complete the process.

“The board, administration and staff feel like this is something that is a positive step and structure for continuous improvement,” Fowler said. “We think that we are doing some things pretty well and we want to validate and improve.”

Fernandez said when studying the Portales school district’s current methods of education, AdvancED professionals will focus on seven different areas of the district and point out areas which need improvement and make suggestions of how those improvements can be made.

She said the evaluation results are developed through talking to students, faculty and parents and by observing classroom instruction and behavior.