MEMS earns positive accreditation scores

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

5/2/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Maxwell Elementary Middle School's five years of preparation paid off during last month's visit by accreditation agency AdvancED and Department of Defense Education Activity representatives when they awarded MEMS positive accreditation scores.

Throughout the week of April 8-12, the five-member accreditation review team evaluated MEMS's performance in the classroom, its use of technology, student-teacher interactions and its relations with the community and base organizations through their observations and conducting numerous interviews with teachers, students and parents.

Principal Robbie Swint, who joined the MEMS team in November, knew there would be an inspection during his first year. Though undaunted by the task, having previous experience with inspection teams, Swint remained actively involved in preparing his staff and student body.

"Even though you know the process, you still have to make sure your school is doing everything they are supposed to be doing regarding the standards," he said. "Because our focus is making sure that we're doing whatever it takes to make sure all of our students reach their highest potential."

Swint made sure teachers were aware of AdvancED's standards for accreditation as well as acknowledging the achievement level of each of their students, how they could help them improve and ways to keep them engaged.

Accreditation, as defined by AdvancED, is designed to distinguish schools that adhere to a specific set of standards. Those five requirements include a clear purpose and direction, leadership that promotes student effectiveness, teaching and assessments through curriculum and classroom practices, support resources for student success and generating continuous improvement.

Using a four-point scale ranging from "very evident" to "not observed," the review team gave MEMS an "evident" rating on three of the five standards and a "somewhat evident" grade on two of the three standards. Overall, the synopsis was very positive, and MEMS will officially receive its accreditation documents in June, according to Swint.

Randy Stokes, the school liaison officer at Maxwell, said accreditation is a high achievement for any school and fosters transparency.

"Accreditation is the stamp of approval," said Stokes. "It says this school is capable of teaching their students the things he or she needs to know."

According to the accreditation report, MEMS is handling the needs of its students and stakeholders very well. The school achieved its two educational goals to increase student's communication and math skills, which were set after the last review in 2008.

Swint said he appreciates the Maxwell community and leadership for their support and the hospitality shown toward the school and the visiting team members. He hopes to continue to grow the "open-door" policy between the school and organizations on base.

"We want the community to be able to come in and see the things that we're doing," said Swint. "We don't want to hide anything. We want to share and work together and make sure whatever we're doing that we're doing for the benefit of our students here at Maxwell."