Oconee County Schools

Case Study

Laser-focused on sustained excellence and continuous improvement, Oconee County Schools chose Simbli to help them align their board evaluations and self-assessments to the work of the district, and to meet the standards of accreditation.

 

Challenge
To ensure that the governance teams of the district and its schools are in alignment with goals and held accountable for sustained improvement.

 

Solution
Simbli’s evaluation software promotes accountability and continuous improvement among district and school governance teams by providing tools for conducting board self-assessment, superintendent evaluations, and AdvancED™ District and School Accreditation.

District Profile
students-school Evaluation and Assessment for Greater Accountability

6,437 Students

10 Schools

1,000 Employees

With 10 governance teams at the school level, plus their district team, Oconee uses Simbli to streamline processes, keep everyone working strategically and improve organizational and board performance.

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District Recognition
  • America’s Most Challenging High Schools: Oconee High School & North Oconee High School – 2013
  • GaDOE Top Mid-Size District for Title I Student Achievement – 2013
  • Awarded Re-Accreditation – 2013
  • 2011 AP District Honor Roll
awards Evaluation and Assessment for Greater Accountability
Honors and Awards
  • Best Overall Use of Simbli – 2015
  • 1st Place Best Use of Evaluation Software – 2013
  • Title I Distinguished Schools Award – 2012
  • Pacesetter Award for Special Achievement – 2011

Continuous Improvement

Creating Transparency and Accountability

Oconee County, Georgia is located in the central northern section of the state and within close proximity to the University of Georgia. This rural county with a population of over 33,000 is known for its strong sense of community and rich agricultural lands. Oconee has been recognized as one of the best places to live in rural America by the Progressive Farmer Magazine three times, from 2006-2009.

 

The county believes that an educated approach to economic development is essential to a successful place to live and work, making education a key component to the way of life in Oconee. In a school system with a student population of nearly 7,000 and 10 bustling schools, Superintendent Dr. Jason Branch is laser-focused on “Sustained Excellence and Continuous Improvement.”

 

Oconee Schools takes pride in their 91.5% graduation rate for the 2011 cohort. This graduation rate has garnered support from the community, which has created involvement and collaboration. Organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and the County Commission, as well as the wider business community exhibit their pride and support for the county’s educational system.

In Their Own Words

Streamlining Governance and Accountability

Oconee’s governance team, consisting of the board and the superintendent, conducted their Governance Team Self-Assessment using Simbli’s Evaluation software. They provided evidence to support each of the standards and created an action plan for next steps. Oconee followed best practices by aligning Simbli’s Meetings software and Policy software data to the actual instrument.

 

By using Simbli to conduct each district and school self-assessment, the school system was able to create a climate of transparency and accountability. They were also able to align all of their work to the standards of the accrediting agency and hold the schools and personnel accountable for sustained improvement. The Oconee School Board demonstrated the leadership necessary to know how to manage expectation, address gaps or issues and to create transparency and accountability within the system to improve student achievement.

 

How does Simbli help your district with transparency and accountability?

The Oconee County Board of Education and Superintendent are committed to being transparent about the decision-making that occurs at the governance level. They use Simbli’s Core Four to ensure everyone stays focused on district goals.

 

The school system uses the Meetings software for all board meetings, and the members of the executive cabinet post all supporting documents. Minutes are also posted on Simbli in an effort to communicate with stakeholders about governance decisions. Oconee also posts all board policies and regulations in Simbli in order to ensure that all staff and stakeholders have access to the rules that govern the system.

 

Simbli provides multiple layers of transparency and accountability. Oconee County Schools completed a district SACS/AdvancED review this year. The system and each of the schools used Simbli’s Evaluation software to communicate the results of the self-assessment and share the artifacts with the community.

 

How does Simbli help your district align your work (plans, meetings, and policies)?

Simbli provides us with the perfect tool to ensure that all of our work is aligned. For example, the system was able to link policies, meetings, and the system improvement plan to the SACS/AdvancED standards and indicators in preparation for the external review. The External Review Team was very impressed with the accessibility of information as well as the alignment of the work.

 

How does Simbli provide cost savings and efficiency to your organization?

We use Simbli’s Meetings software for board and district meetings. The system saves a significant amount of money in copying materials due to the fact that agendas and supporting documents are all posted prior to the meeting. Additionally, the electronic platform saves system personnel time that would normally be spent making copies for meetings.

 

What advice can you give other school systems wanting to maximize their use of Simbli?

We highly recommend that school systems spend time visiting the Simbli sites of others to see how they are using the tools. We also encourage leaders to participate in the User Conference – Simbli Summit to learn from other Simbli users.

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