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RCA gets thumbs up for career academy certification pilot program
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Rockdale Career Academy was recently recommended for what would be one of the first certifications of a charter and career academies in the state as part of a pilot program. It is a joint certification coordinated by the Technical College System of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Education-Charter Schools Division, and AdvancED (parent company of SACS).

Based on their findings, the AdvancED evaluation team gave their recommendation for Rockdale Career Academy to receive certification.

"I am extremely proud of the results of this review process," said Superintendent Richard Autry. "Rockdale Career Academy provides so many opportunities for students to create their future and graduate high school with a competitive advantage in higher education and the workforce through industry certifications and pathway completion. Being the first career academy to receive certification, RCA will continue to serve as an exemplar for others around the state and nation."

"This credentialing process required us to take a deep look at our own processes and practices so we can determine how to become stronger for our students," says Rockdale Career Academy CEO, Dr. Miki Edwards. "The faculty and staff at RCA are a dedicated and passionate group of professionals who work hard to assist our students in preparing for their futures and I am so proud of what they are able to accomplish each and every day. Our community, business, and post-secondary partners have worked with us along the way to provide many opportunities for students as well. The external review team was impressed by the number of students who wanted to talk about what RCA has meant to them during their high school journey. Their stories remind us of why we are here and motivate us to do even more to help our students be successful."

The state certification of Georgia College & Career Academies (GCCAs) is built upon the infrastructure of the AdvancED school accreditation process. It includes elements that are customized to GCCAs and incorporates state charter school renewal requirements. A ten member external review team completed their site visit to the school to analyze evidence and artifacts, visit classrooms, and conduct interviews with faculty, staff, students, parents, district administrators, advisory board members, and business partners. The site visit is the final step in the process before making a recommendation to the Technical College System of Georgia.

The exit report presented by the review team included seven "Powerful Practices" or notable practices by the institution that are making a positive difference. They include:

The ‘Cycle for Results' strategic planning process used at RCA drives continuous improvement and higher achievement.
RCA uses technology such as the Mondo Pad effectively to expedite hiring, building relationships with base high schools and saving resources that can be re-deployed.
Engaged stakeholders, especially students, staff and the business community effectively support RCA's "Purpose and Direction".
Resources are used prudently to enhance inter-school communication and provide individual attention to students; noteworthy is the practice of assigning assistant principals to collaborate with each base high school.
A robust student registration process that involves RCA Counselors, RCA Special Education staff and others focuses on meeting the individual needs of students and increasing RCA pathway completion and student achievement.
The Reading Plus Program aimed at 10th graders provides effective strategies that improve both informational and fluency reading performance.
Teachers within and across disciplines and programs effectively work together and communicate to improve curriculum and instruction for students. Noteworthy, because it contributes and supports RCA's culture of collaboration, is the organizational practice of having common planning time for all instructional staff.

There was one opportunity for improvement noted and no required actions.

Because RCA has collaborated effectively with its community and continues to expand pathway options for students, opportunity exists to locate and partner with post-secondary institutions that can provide specific support of the pathways.