GV Charter Schools Office recommended for accreditation

GVL / Courtesy - Michael Cousins
Dr. Tim Woods and T. Haas

GVL / Courtesy – Michael Cousins Dr. Tim Woods and T. Haas

Alyssa Rettelle

The Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office was recently recommended for accreditation by a third-party review team, AdvancED. This recommendation was not the only accomplishment: GVSU’s charter schools office is also the first charter school authorizer in the nation to achieve the national AdvancED accreditation classification.

The external review team spent four days reviewing the university’s Charter Schools Office and portfolio of schools. They evaluated resource of utilization, teaching and learning and leadership capacity, student performance, continuous improvement, strategic plans, an index of education quality and more. AdvancED determined that Grand Valley’s Charter Schools Office met and significantly surpassed average results for the evaluation process. That evaluation process included extensive document review and interviews with more than 120 stakeholders at GVSU and its authorized schools.

“We’re very pleased that the external review team, after spending four days with us, determined that our authorizing practices are based on the best practices of authorizers,” said Timothy Wood, director of the GVSU Charter Schools Office.

“As President Haas said during the press conference, the Charter Schools Office now is comparable to all of the other accredited departments at the university,” Wood said. “It simply means that we’re doing things correctly based on the best practices nationally.”

Since 2011, Wood has been the director and has established programs to bring charter students to GVSU, including campus visits, summer camp and ArtPrize Education Days. Wood said the Charter Schools Office currently authorizes 69 schools throughout the state, primarily in the Detroit area.

“We serve 32,000 students and we assist those schools with teacher, professional development training, assuring the states that our schools are compliant with state and federal laws,” Wood said. “We are the fiscal agent for the schools as state funding flows through our office to the school. Going forward, [the accreditation] means that folks who care about this sort of stuff can recognize that we have positive practices in place and that the work we do with our schools is of high quality.”

The GVSU Charter Schools Office is in its 20th year as a charter school authorizer, and it has been successful since its beginnings, according to its website. In 1993, the university committed to chartering schools after Michigan became the ninth state to enact charter law. GVSU opened three schools in 1995 and had authorized 16 schools by 1998.

In 2000, GVSU President Arend D. Lubbers received the annual Plachta Award from the Michigan Association of Public School Academies for excellent work with charter schools. By 2004, the Charter Schools Office authorized 25 schools, serving over 7,000 students. In 2009, the Charter Schools Office moved into its current location, the Grand Valley Bicycle Factory in downtown Grand Rapids, and by 2010, it served nearly 20,000 students in 40 schools, including Michigan’s first virtual charter academy.

AdvancED is the largest community of education professionals in the world. It is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of PreK-12 schools and school systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential, according to its website. It serves as a partner to 32,000 schools and school systems, employing more than four million educators and enrolling more than 20 million students across the United States and 70 other nations.

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