Dalton Public Schools has been granted accreditation from Cognia following a year-long process of working with a review team. The report from Cognia found eight areas of noteworthy practice and two areas of improvement. School districts must go through the accreditation process every 6 years.
Brandi Moore, executive director of teaching and learning, who chaired the district’s accreditation committee said, “Cognia accreditation certifies Dalton Public Schools with a nationally respected seal of excellence. This demonstrates to our community our dedication to superior quality, high standards, and commitment to excellence while ensuring an exceptional educational setting for our students. Earning Cognia accreditation shows our willingness to welcome external evaluation and input, and our aspiration to achieve the utmost for the students under our care.”
The accreditation engagement review process consists of collecting data and information using quality instruments, and then analyzing, and synthesizing the information to arrive at findings. Cognia expects institutions to develop, prioritize, and implement theories of action that will sustain high-performing areas and lead to improvement in underperforming areas. Evaluators engage in professional discussions and deliberations about the effectiveness of the processes, programs, and practices within the institution to arrive at the findings of the report. The findings inform the district’s continuous improvement efforts and center around the culture of learning, leadership for learning, engagement of learning, and growth in learning. Narratives are provided to guide the district’s improvement journey in its effort to improve the quality of educational opportunities for all learners.
Accreditation is based primarily on the evaluation of evidence that reflects the institution’s ability to meet the expectations as defined by the Cognia Performance Standards. The Engagement Review evaluators apply a rubric to determine the degree to which the district demonstrates effective practices.
The Summary of Findings contains Noteworthy Practices and Areas of Improvement. Noteworthy practices are areas identified by Cognia that reflect the greatest areas of strength in the work of the district.
Dalton Public Schools was commended for the mission focused on developing relationships and providing quality work that engages students in learning. They also received recognition for its very diverse population, numerous initiatives in place to foster positive relationships with stakeholders, multiple avenues implemented to gain insight into the perception of the institution, a robust Strategic Plan, a Balanced Scorecard that reflects longitudinal data on targets and actual performance data, major initiatives to increase diversity of staff and the use of numerous data sources.
Two areas of improvement were noted for the school district including aligning professional learning to address challenges identified from data analyses on students’ academic needs and interests and intensifying efforts to ensure the presence of staff who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate instruction for the diverse population of students enrolled in the system.
The next steps in the accreditation process will include having the committee members from the district unpack the full report and spend time discussing the description of trends and the impact on the institution. They will select strategies to respond to the review findings and document progress on the two areas of improvement through 2026 to Cognia as a follow-up.
Cognia is the parent organization for three of the six regional accreditors in the United States including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). As a global nonprofit with 127 years of knowledge and expertise in continuous improvement, it serves over 32,000 schools and districts across the United States and 90 other countries. Their goal is to support schools in their improvement efforts and help improve outcomes for all learners.