For the first time, Iowa Education for Deaf & Blind is seeking unified accreditation as an education service agency. In the past, both Iowa School for the Deaf and Iowa Educational Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired sought accreditation as special schools.
The result? Official determination on accreditation status won’t be until June, but when ranking indicators in the areas of leadership, learning and resources, a score of 371 out of 400 was achieved, according to Cognia, the not-for-profit private accrediting agency for schools used by Iowa Education for Deaf & Blind.
“The teacher in me says that’s an A-; which is outstanding!” said Steve Gettel, superintendent for Iowa Education for Deaf & Blind.
“That is powerfully strong,” said Cecelia Wiar, lead evaluator with the Cognia evaluation team which conducted the three-day intensive review in late March. “The team just kept hearing over and over again how you keep kids at your focus- your growth mindset was clearly articulated.”
Iowa Education for Deaf & Blind chooses to undergo accreditation review to validate the high quality of its programs and services. The self-study process began in spring of 2021, with surveys conducted with parents, students, staff and stakeholders. Iowa Education for Deaf & Blind voluntarily undergoes accreditation about every five years. Accreditation provides measurable, meaningful evaluation and feedback to help schools discover and maintain strengths, as well as identify and implement processes to improve weaker areas.
Eighty-two interviews were conducted in three days. Cognia team members use the information from interviews to validate Iowa Education for Deaf & Blind’s self-study results. Those interviewed included the same audiences as surveyed. The Cognia team reported:
- Stakeholders commented we have a clearly defined mission.
- Our programs are student-focused, inclusive, and supportive.
- ISD and IESBVI are resources for people to come to, and we positively impact families statewide.
In 19 of 35 standards indicators, the team determined our practices and programs are performing at the highest level, deeply engrained in the culture and operation of the schools, consistently showing growth and improvement over time.
In May, a final report will be received from the review team. The report will also go to the Cognia Commissioners, and in June, the Commission will determine our accreditation status.