AdvancED says Dade to become country’s largest accredited school system

The Miami-Dade school system is expected to earn a stamp of approval from the international accreditation organization AdvancED, a distinction that the district says will give students greater access to federal loans and scholarships.

AdvancED president Mark Elgart said Wednesday that the recognition will make Miami-Dade the largest accredited school system in the country — a title previously held by Broward schools.

Speaking to the school board, Elgart said a review committee that spent the past two years observing students and teachers in hundreds of classrooms had rated the district as above average in every measured category. He said the committee interviewed teachers, students, administrators and school board members and looked over nearly 10,000 documents in order to gauge the district’s successes and struggles in teaching its students.

Elgart noted that some high-performing schools appeared to get somewhat “complacent,” and that the district struggled with students’ digital learning — an area in which the school board has recently invested tens of millions. But he said Miami-Dade schools overall had excelled despite having had to make substantial cuts during the recent recession.

“You should acknowledge and celebrate this but not rest,” he said.

Elgart said the official ruling wouldn’t come for another two weeks, and the district would receive notice of the decision in July.

Individual Miami-Dade schools are already accredited, but Elgart said district-wide accreditation elevates the 350,000-student school system. Broward and Palm Beach school districts are also accredited.

Accreditation would last five years, and the district must show improvement to retain its standing with AdvancED.