An accrediting organization has noted several improvements at the Public School System compared to what they saw during their visit five years ago.
Last Thursday, AdvancED, a non-profit, non-governmental accrediting organization that accredits primary and secondary schools across the nation and even internationally, had positive findings for PSS after sending a 10-member team to the CNMI on a one-week visit.
The group collected data from over 500 individuals, including employees and students, throughout Saipan, Rota, and Tinian.
Agnes Smith, the lead evaluator for AdvancED, said in a presentation last Thursday that, compared to their visit in 2013, PSS has had several infrastructure upgrades.
“We had noticed that they had some facility upgrades as funding has been made available; they have had upgrades in emerging technology added to classrooms; they have most definitely implemented a very clear system of testing children to determine exactly where their level[s] are in proficiency; and they have been collecting and analyzing that data,” Smith said. “Those are very significant and important improvements in the CNMI,” she added.
The CNMI had about six recommendations in 2013; this time there were only four, Smith said.
While the findings were significant, it did not really surprise PSS, said interim Education commissioner Glenn Muna last Thursday, since they are already in the process of addressing some of the recommendations.
“We already started the process to address [the recommendations],” he said. “The nice thing about the accreditation process is that it is a continuous improvement—we look at our school district and our data and we assess what we need to do…and from there we move forward with that,” he said.
While only a very general report, Smith noted that minor tweaks to further improve the efficiency of PSS could be had.
Muña noted that a more complete and formal report would be provided to PSS within 45 days.
Leila Staffler, Kagman High School principal, believes the recommendations and the findings were “right on par” with the current direction of PSS.
“…Their recommendation for the next step of evaluating our practices is something that we have already started doing this school year,” said Staffler. “…It’s really nice to get that confirmation of what we are doing already is where we should have been in the first place. It was a very reaffirming practice and experience, what we went through this week.”