Rome City Schools will be evaluated by Cognia next week to have their accreditation renewed for the next five years.

According to Superintendent Lou Byars, the nonprofit organization has had many names over the years, only recently changing it to Cognia within the last 10.

Almost all of the schools in Georgia have accreditation by Cognia, which evaluates the role of the school board and how the system as a whole functions.

Evaluators will monitor classrooms as well as interview students, parents, teachers and administrators from Rome High School, Rome Middle School and West End Elementary.

The school administration chose West End because it reflects the system as a whole in the best way demographically, according to Director of Assessment and Accountability Kristin M. Teems.

Because of the pandemic, this year’s evaluation will be virtual and held over Zoom. They will still conduct 45-minute interviews with various stakeholder groups, which were chosen by principals reaching out to parents and students to see if they’d be interested in participating.

While the accreditation doesn’t help with funding, Byars said it becomes helpful for students when they apply to colleges. If they lose accreditation, the school system could be investigated by the state and the board could be removed.

On Thursday, board members met to learn about the process and the kind of questions that’ll be asked next week.

“A lot of our board members haven’t been through this yet, so we wanted to prepare them,” Byars said.

In training exercises led by RCS Director of Federal Programs Leslie Dixon, the board reviewed common questions asked during the interviews and provided their own answers.

Given the pandemic’s effects on school systems, Byars believe it would be taken into account during the process.

“They understand what we’re going through,” he said. “We want people to know that once we get past all this, we’ll go back to picking things up that we had to stop.”

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