General accreditation standards



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IAC 1/20/16

Education[281]

Ch , p.


CHAPTER 12

GENERAL ACCREDITATION STANDARDS

[Prior to 9/7/88, see Public Instruction Department[670] Ch 4]

Preamble

The goal for the early childhood through twelfth grade educational system in Iowa is to improve the learning, achievement, and performance of all students so they become successful members of a community and workforce. It is expected that each school and school district shall continue to improve its educational system so that more students will increase their learning, achievement, and performance.

Accreditation focuses on an ongoing school improvement process for schools and school districts. However, general accreditation standards are the minimum requirements that must be met by an Iowa public school district to be accredited. A public school district that does not maintain accreditation shall be merged, by the state board of education, with one or more contiguous school districts as required by Iowa Code subsection 256.11(12). A nonpublic school must meet the general accreditation standards if it wishes to be designated as accredited for operation in Iowa.

General accreditation standards are intended to fulfill the state’s responsibility for making available an appropriate educational program that has high expectations for all students in Iowa. The accreditation standards ensure that each child has access to an educational program that meets the needs and abilities of the child regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, religion, creed, marital status, geographic location, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socioeconomic status.

With local community input, school districts and accredited nonpublic schools shall incorporate accountability for student achievement into comprehensive school improvement plans designed to increase the learning, achievement, and performance of all students. As applicable, and to the extent possible, comprehensive school improvement plans shall consolidate federal and state program goal setting, planning, and reporting requirements. Provisions for multicultural and gender fair education, technology integration, global education, gifted and talented students, at-risk students, students with disabilities, and the professional development of all staff shall be incorporated, as applicable, into the comprehensive school improvement plan. See subrules 12.5(8) to 12.5(13), 12.7(1), and 12.8(1).

DIVISION I



GENERAL STANDARDS

281—12.1(256) General standards.

12.1(1) Schools and school districts governed by general accreditation standards. These standards govern the accreditation of all prekindergarten, if offered, or kindergarten through grade 12 school districts operated by public school corporations and the accreditation, if requested, of prekindergarten or kindergarten through grade 12 schools operated under nonpublic auspices. Each school district shall take affirmative steps to integrate students in attendance centers and courses. Schools and school districts shall collect and annually review district, attendance center, and course enrollment data on the basis of race, national origin, gender, and disability. Equal opportunity in programs shall be provided to all students regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation as defined in Iowa Code section 216.2 as amended by 2007 Iowa Acts, Senate File 427, section 1, gender identity as defined in Iowa Code section 216.2 as amended by 2007 Iowa Acts, Senate File 427, section 1, socioeconomic status, disability, religion, or creed. Nothing in this rule shall be construed as prohibiting any bona fide religious institution from imposing qualifications based upon religion when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose.

12.1(2) School board. Each school or school district shall be governed by an identifiable authority which shall exercise the functions necessary for the effective operation of the school and referred to in these rules as the “board.”

12.1(3) Application for accreditation. The board of any school or school district that is not accredited on the effective date of these standards and which seeks accreditation shall file an application with the director, department of education, on or before the first day of January of the school year preceding the school year for which accreditation is sought.

12.1(4) Accredited schools and school districts. Each school or school district receiving accreditation under the provisions of these standards shall remain accredited except when by action of the state board of education it is removed from the list of accredited schools maintained by the department of education in accordance with Iowa Code subsections 256.11(11) and 256.11(12).

12.1(5) When nonaccredited. A school district shall be nonaccredited on the day after the date it is removed from the list of accredited schools by action of the state board of education. A nonpublic school shall be nonaccredited on the date established by the resolution of the state board, which shall be no later than the end of the school year in which the nonpublic school is declared to be nonaccredited.

12.1(6) Alternative provisions for accreditation. School districts may meet accreditation requirements through the provisions of Iowa Code sections 256.13, nonresident students; 273.7A, services to school districts; 279.20, superintendent—term; 280.15, joint employment and sharing; 282.7, attending in another corporation—payment; and 282.10, whole grade sharing. Nonpublic schools may meet accreditation requirements through the provisions of Iowa Code section 256.12.

12.1(7) Minimum school calendar: set by annual hours or days of instruction. The board of directors of a school district and the authorities in charge of an accredited nonpublic school shall adopt a school calendar that sets the number of days or hours of required attendance for student instruction, staff development and in-service time, and time for parent-teacher conferences. Prior to adopting the school calendar, the board of directors of a school district shall hold a public hearing on any proposed school calendar. The board and authorities in charge of an accredited nonpublic school shall notify the department annually of their decision to have a calendar based on days or based on hours. The length of the school calendar does not dictate the length of contract hours or days of employment for instructional and noninstructional staff. Time recorded under either a days or hours calendar system may include passing time between classes but shall exclude the lunch period. Time spent on parent-teacher conferences shall be considered instructional time. The school calendar may be operated any time during the school year of July 1 to June 30 as defined by Iowa Code section 279.10 as amended by 2013 Iowa Acts, House File 215, section 81. A minimum of 180 days or 1,080 hours of instruction shall be set in the school calendar, for school districts and accredited nonpublic schools beginning no sooner than a day during the calendar week in which the first day of September falls, and shall be used for student instruction. However, if the first day of September falls on a Sunday, school may begin any day during the calendar week preceding September 1. These 180 days shall meet the requirements of “day of school” for those districts or accredited nonpublic schools that are utilizing a schedule based on days, defined in paragraph 12.1(8)“a,” “minimum school day” defined in subrule 12.1(9), and “day or hour of attendance” defined in subrule 12.1(10). (Exception: A school or school district may, by board policy, excuse graduating seniors up to five days or 30 hours of instruction after school or school district requirements for graduation have been met.) If additional days are added to the regular school calendar because of inclement weather, a graduating senior who has met the school district’s requirements for graduation may be excused from attendance during the extended school calendar. A school district may begin employment of instructional and noninstructional staff, for in-service training and development purposes, earlier than the first day of school. A school or school district choosing a schedule based on hours shall follow the definition of “hour of school” set forth in paragraph 12.1(8)“b.”

12.1(8) Day and hour of school.

a. Day of school. A day of school is a day during which the school or school district is in session and students are under the guidance and instruction of the instructional professional staff. School shall be considered in session during parent-teacher conferences as well as during activities such as field trips if students are engaged in programs or activities under the guidance and direction of the instructional professional staff. All grade levels of the school or school district must be operated and available for attendance by all students. An exception is if either the elementary or secondary grades are closed and provided that the time missed is made up at some other point during the school calendar so as to meet the minimum of 180 days or 1,080 hours of instruction for all grades 1 through 12.

b. Hour of school. For schools or school districts adopting a calendar based on a 1,080-hour minimum schedule, an official hour of school is an hour in which the school or school district is in session and students are under the guidance and instruction of the instructional professional staff. For purposes of this rule, an “hour” is defined as 60 minutes. The calculation of minimum hours shall exclude the lunch period. Passing time between classes may be counted as part of the hour requirement. School shall be considered in session during parent-teacher conferences as well as during activities such as field trips if students are engaged in programs or activities under the guidance and direction of the instructional professional staff. All grade levels of the school or school district must be operated and available for attendance by all students. Schools or school districts have flexibility on how they can reach the threshold of 1,080 hours of instruction but must keep annual documentation of how they met that standard. The school calendar may include more than or less than or may equal the 180-day schedule. The hours included in an individual day under an hours format may vary.

12.1(9) Minimum school day. A school day, for those utilizing a school calendar based on days, shall consist of a minimum of 6 hours of instructional time for all grades 1 through 12. The minimum hours shall exclude the lunch period. Passing time between classes may be counted as part of the 6-hour requirement. School shall be considered in session during parent-teacher conferences as well as during activities such as field trips if students are engaged in programs or activities under the guidance and direction of the instructional professional staff.

12.1(10) Day or hour of attendance. A day or hour of attendance shall be a day or hour during which students were present and under the guidance and instruction of the instructional professional staff. When staff development designated by the board or by authorities in charge of an accredited nonpublic school occurs outside of the time required for a “minimum school day,” students shall be counted in attendance.

12.1(11) Kindergarten. The number of instructional days or hours within the school calendar and the length of the school day for kindergarten shall be defined by the board or by authorities in charge of an accredited nonpublic school that operates a kindergarten program.

[ARC 1115C, IAB 10/16/13, effective 11/20/13]

DIVISION II

DEFINITIONS



281—12.2(256) Definitions. For purposes of these rules, the following definitions shall apply:

Alternative options education programs” means alternative programs or schools as identified in Iowa Code section 280.19A.

Alternative program” means a class or environment established within the regular educational program and designed to accommodate specific student educational needs such as, but not limited to, work-related training; reading, mathematics or science skills; communication skills; social skills; physical skills; employability skills; study skills; or life skills.

Alternative school” means an environment established apart from the regular educational program and that includes policies and rules, staff, and resources designed to accommodate student needs and to provide a comprehensive education consistent with the student learning goals and content standards established by the school district or by the school districts participating in a consortium. Students attend by choice.

Annual improvement goals” means the desired one-year rate of improvement for students. Data from multiple measures may be used to determine the rate of improvement.

At-risk student” means any identified student who needs additional support and who is not meeting or not expected to meet the established goals of the educational program (academic, personal/social, career/vocational). At-risk students include but are not limited to students in the following groups: homeless children and youth, dropouts, returning dropouts, and potential dropouts.

Baseline data” means information gathered at a selected point in time and used thereafter as a basis from which to monitor change.

Benchmarks” means specific knowledge and skills anchored to content standards that a student needs to accomplish by a specific grade or grade span.

Board” means the board of directors in charge of a public school district or the authorities in charge of an accredited nonpublic school.

Competency-based education” means that learners advance through content or earn credit based on demonstration of proficiency of competencies. Proficiency for this context is the demonstrated skill or knowledge required to advance to and be successful in higher levels of learning in that content area. Some students may advance through more content or earn more credit than in a traditional school year while others might take more than a traditional school year to advance through the same content and to earn credit. A student must meet the requirements of 12.5(14) to be awarded credit in a competency-based system of education.

Comprehensive school improvement plan” means a design that shall describe how the school or school district will increase student learning, achievement, and performance. This ongoing improvement design may address more than student learning, achievement, and performance.

Content standards” means broad statements about what students are expected to know and be able to do.

Curriculum” means a plan that outlines what students shall be taught. Curriculum refers to all the courses offered, or all the courses offered in a particular area of study.

Department” means the department of education.

Districtwide” means all attendance centers within a school district or accredited nonpublic school.

Districtwide assessments” means large-scale achievement or performance measures. At least one districtwide assessment shall allow for the following: the comparison of the same group of students over time as they progress through the grades or the cross-sectional comparison of students at the same grades over multiple years.

Districtwide progress” means the quantifiable change in school or school district student achievement and performance.

Dropout” means a school-age student who is served by a public school district and enrolled in any of grades seven through twelve and who does not attend school or withdraws from school for a reason other than death or transfer to another approved school or school district or has been expelled with no option to return.

Educational program.” The educational program adopted by the board is the entire offering of the school, including out-of-class activities and the sequence of curriculum areas and activities. The educational program shall provide articulated, developmental learning experiences from the date of student entrance until high school graduation.

Enrolled student” means a person that has officially registered with the school or school district and is taking part in the educational program.

Incorporate” means integrating career education, multicultural and gender fair education, technology education, global education, higher-order thinking skills, learning skills, and communication skills into the total educational program.

Indicators” provide information about the general status, quality, or performance of an educational system.

Library program” means an articulated sequential kindergarten through grade 12 library or media program that enhances student achievement and is integral to the school district’s curricula and instructional program. The library program is planned and implemented by a qualified teacher librarian working collaboratively with the district’s administration and instructional staff. The library program services provided to students and staff shall include the following:

1. Support of the overall school curricula;

2. Collaborative planning and teaching;

3. Promotion of reading and literacy;

4. Information literacy instruction;

5. Access to a diverse and appropriate school library collection; and

6. Learning enhancement through technologies.

Long-range goals” means desired targets to be reached over an extended period of time.

Multiple assessment measures,” for reporting to the local community or the state, means more than one valid and reliable instrument that quantifies districtwide student learning, including specific grade-level data.

Performance levels.” The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires that at least three levels of performance be established to assist in determining which students have or have not achieved a satisfactory or proficient level of performance. At least two of those three levels shall describe what all students ought to know or be able to do if their achievement or performance is deemed proficient or advanced. The third level shall describe students who are not yet performing at the proficient level. A school or school district may establish more than three performance levels that include all students for districtwide or other assessments.

Physical activity” means any movement, manipulation, or exertion of the body that can lead to improved levels of physical fitness and quality of life.

Potential dropouts” means resident pupils who are enrolled in a public or nonpublic school who demonstrate poor school adjustment as indicated by two or more of the following:

1. High rate of absenteeism, truancy, or frequent tardiness.

2. Limited or no extracurricular participation or lack of identification with school including, but not limited to, expressed feelings of not belonging.

3. Poor grades including, but not limited to, failing in one or more school subjects or grade levels.

4. Low achievement scores in reading or mathematics which reflect achievement at two years or more below grade level.

Prekindergarten program” includes a school district’s implementation of the preschool program established pursuant to 2007 Iowa Acts, House File 877, section 2, and is otherwise described herein in subrule 12.5(1).

Proficient,” as it relates to content standards, characterizes student performance at a level that is acceptable by the school or school district.

Returning dropouts” means resident pupils who have been enrolled in a public or nonpublic school in any of grades seven through twelve who withdrew from school for a reason other than transfer to another school or school district and who subsequently enrolled in a public school in the district.

School” means an accredited nonpublic school.

School counseling program” means an articulated sequential kindergarten through grade 12 program that is comprehensive in scope, preventive in design, developmental in nature, driven by data, and integral to the school district’s curricula and instructional program. The program is implemented by at least one school counselor, appropriately licensed by the board of educational examiners, who works collaboratively with the district’s administration and instructional staff. The program standards are described in subrule 12.3(11). The program’s delivery system components shall include the following:

1. School guidance curriculum;

2. Support of the overall school curriculum;

3. Individual student planning;

4. Responsive services; and

5. System support.

School district” means a public school district.

School improvement advisory committee” means a committee, as defined in Iowa Code section 280.12, that is appointed by the board. Committee membership shall include students, parents, teachers, administrators, and representatives from the local community which may include business, industry, labor, community agencies, higher education, or other community constituents. To the extent possible, committee membership shall have balanced representation of the following: race, gender, national origin, and disability. The school improvement advisory committee as defined by Iowa Code section 280.12 and the board are also part of, but not inclusive of, the local community.

Student learning goals” means general statements of expectations for all graduates.

Students with disabilities” means students who have individualized education programs regardless of the disability.

Subgroups” means a subset of the student population that has a common characteristic. Subgroups include, but are not limited to, gender, race, students with disabilities, and socioeconomic status.

Successful employment in Iowa” may be determined by, but is not limited to, reviewing student achievement and performance based on locally identified indicators such as earnings, educational attainment, reduced unemployment, and the attainment of employability skills.

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