FlorenceSC – Florence 1 School District continues its journey up the ladder to excellence.

The district achieved an Educational Quality Index score of 350 from Cognia, a global non-profit organization that reviews the district’s educational processes to ensure that students receive a quality education.

The accreditation process is an important measure of a school district’s leadership, learning and resource capabilities.

Florence 1 Principal Richard O’Malley said the Cognia certification process takes about a year.

“This is the national certification that we do every five years. Also the United States.

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Cognia accreditation means that Florence 1 School students can earn a diploma and attend higher education anywhere in the world, said Haley Gainey, the district’s chief accountability officer.

The district’s score of 350 is up from the 2014 Cognia Rating of 300. The average score for all school districts evaluated by Cognia ranges from 278 to 283, Gainey said.

“We are 350 years old and this is a great place,” she said.

Gainey says most public schools in South Carolina use Cognia for their accreditation process.

Gainey detailed the Cognia accreditation process at the F1S board meeting in the West Florence High School auditorium on Thursday.

Evaluations allow school districts to monitor the quality of their education. He focuses on three areas: leadership competencies, learning competencies, and resource competencies.

Gainey said Cognier had five evaluators looking at the Florence 1 school district. Gainey said the interview was virtually done due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The evaluator said he interviewed 221 people in two and a half days. All interviews were conducted via Zoom.

Here is a breakdown of the people we interviewed.

23 students from different grades

8 community partners – pastors, business leaders, realtors, counselors, bankers.

65 Certified Staff – Teachers, Guidance Counselors, Media Specialists, Curriculum Coaches.

12 Confidential personnel – bookkeepers, etc.

45 District Office Staff – Human Resources, Curriculum, Maintenance Transportation

26 Building Leader – Principal, Assistant Principal

4 Board members

“For a total of 221 community stakeholders, we felt this was a good fit for our group to help them understand what we are,” Gainey said.

Cognia evaluates school districts in four areas. For each discipline, she said, there are 31 standards, and for each standard, she has 5 parts.

“They rate each of the five parts of the 31 criteria on a scale: red for poor, yellow for initiation, green for improvement, and blue for impact. We want to make an impact where we are demonstrating remarkable practices that produce tangible results that deliver positive results,” Gainey said.

Gainey said the Florence 1 school district had only blue and green. Two-thirds of the district’s scores landed on the column with impact.

“It’s a great place,” she said.

Cognia’s results also show that there is room for improvement, she said. The district will continue to improve and grow to provide the best possible education to its students, she said.

Gainey said the district wants all standards to be blue. That is my goal for the next five years.

“We are growing. We are moving, moving, moving Sometimes we forget where we were Where were we just five, six, seven years ago? Look where is now,” Gainey said. “We may not have arrived, but we are certainly on the train.”

Board member Barry Townsend was one of 221 people interviewed by Cognia’s evaluators.

Over the past four years, the district has focused on improving the academic performance of all students, Townsend said.

“When I was interviewed as part of the Cognia certification process, it was both exciting and satisfying to discuss the changes we made and the first results of this hard work,” Townsend said. said in a press release from the Florence 1 School District.

The school district has set records for graduation rates in the past two years. The Cognia Education Quality Score shows the school district is on the right track to produce academic excellence in all his F1S students, he said.

Nathan Neighbors, a youth pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, was one of the community partners interviewed by Cognia evaluators. He is also an alumnus of the Florence 1st School District.

“We have seen more progress and unity in our school district in the last four years than in the last 40 years. My wife and I are so grateful that our sons are experiencing the best public education in South Carolina.” Thank you Dr. O’Malley and Ms. Florence 1,” Neighbors said in a press release.

Florence 1 School Board Vice Chair Trisha Caulder has been a board member for 10 years.

“I read all these pages and was amazed,” says Caulder. “I really know and recognize how far we have come. I’m thrilled.”

According to Caulder, Florence 1 School District is setting the course for other South Carolina school districts to follow.

“We’re not done yet,” he said.

Board Chair S. Porter Stewart said the district’s standards are outstanding, neither average nor good enough.

“I think we just need to double down and make it. I’m not going to congratulate you. I’m going to offer a challenge — stay the course,” Stewart said.

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