May 3, 2002 The Education Department will start from scratch to find ways to improve the school system and thus to regain accreditation, the department's new acting commissioner said Friday.
Noreen Michael said that efforts to regain accreditation would require a comprehensive look at how the schools can be made better.
"We're looking at starting all over," she said. "We're no longer going to be focused on these four issues. We have to look across the board."
The Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools last year pulled accreditation from Charlotte Amalie, Ivanna Eudora Kean and Central High Schools because of high student and teacher absenteeism, a lack of substitute teachers and the inability of principals to make key decisions about their own schools.
That decision to revoke accreditation was finalized this week, leading Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to fire Simmonds and name Michael as acting commissioner.
To regain accreditation, the schools must meet all standards put forward by Middle States, which include curriculum requirements, safety plans, school maintenance, library services and use of technology, among other criteria. Susan Nicklas, executive director of the Commission on Secondary Schools, said the Virgin Islands schools would need to make major improvements to meet those standards.
Middle States uses a plan of continuous school improvements, which would serve as a model to the Virgin Islands schools as they seek re-accreditation, Michael said during an informal press conference Friday.
"That model is one that would serve us in good stead. There should be a continual look at improvements," Michael said. "I am really hopeful that this time around, we'll be able to receive unconditional accreditation."
Michael, a 1978 graduate of the College of the Virgin Islands, received her Ph.D. in 1986 in educational psychology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She is a faculty member at the University of the Virgin Islands and has taught college-level courses at Illinois State University, the University of the West Indies, the University of Kansas and Louisiana State University, according to her resume.
She also taught English at Elena Christian Junior High School and St. Croix Central High School. She has served as assistant commissioner in the Education Department, was the director of Health Statistics at UVI on St. Croix and was a consultant to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
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