Officials at the FAMU Developmental Research School, also known as FAMU High, seek to renew its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Committee this week.
“This accreditation is extremely important to DRS,” said Marvin Byers, secondary school principal. “This will affect several things like funding and enrollment.”
Over the past few years funding and enrollment have been a problem for the school. DRS receives $5,000 per student for full-time equivalent funding. The legislature determines FTE funding for the school each year.
According to the Leon County School Board, the number of students, annual cost of educating students, cost of living, growth of the area and district size are used to calculate FTE funding for each student.
Janie Phillips, elementary principal of DRS, said in preparation for the evaluation, administrators conducted parent, teacher and student surveys for input on improvement of the school and informed students of the significance of the SACS visit.
“I believe we have done a good job of telling the students how important this evaluation is,” Phillips said. “We have advised them to be courteous to the committee, and give honest opinions if asked questions.”
DRS had its last evaluation in 1994. Based on the evaluation the committee saw a need for facility improvements, hiring more certified teachers and having higher student achievement.
One area of concern was student scores on the Florida Comprehensive Aptitude Test. Last year, the school received a “D” grade based on test scores. Students from third to 10th grade must take the exam.
Byers believes the outcome will be different.
“Our high school students won’t take the exam until June,” he said. “This will give us time for better preparation.”
Phillips also believes that DRS will meet the challenge during its evaluation.
“We have done our very best to meet and exceed the requirements from their criteria.”
Requirements include a school profile, beliefs admissions, instructional and organizational effectiveness and school improvements.
“We’ve formulated committees for each criteria,” Byers said. “Each committee ties into another so the SACS committee will understand the improvements we plan to make for the school.”
Phillips said accreditation is vital to the future of the school.
“No parent wants his or her child in a school that is not accredited,” Phillips said. No student wants to attend a school that isn’t accredited. We know that we are not perfect, but we will continue to move forward until FAMU DRS is what it should be.”
To get the message across to her elementary students about the importance of the visit from the SACS committee, Phillips used the example of visitors coming to their home, telling the students they need to be on their best behavior, especially when company arrives.
Antione Davis can be reached at Aldavis03@hotmail.com.