By obtaining authorization from one of the world’s premier educational accrediting institutions, educators with the K-8 Global Leadership Academy Charter School in West Philadelphia hope the news finally alleviates concerns about the school’s standings. And that the accreditation comes a few months prior to Global’s charter renewal hearing with the Pennsylvania Department of Education can only help Global’s case there.
Global, located at 46th and Girard Ave., achieved accreditation from AdvancED. According to the agency, AdvancED brings together more than 100 years of experience and the expertise of three US-based accreditation agencies — the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, Northwest Accreditation Commission and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement.
AdvancED offers four accreditation programs - Corporation and Distance Learning Accreditation, Postsecondary Accreditation, System Accreditation and School Accreditation; Global utilized the School Accreditation track.
“AdvancED came to our building, and looked at our school’s operations, curriculums and planning over a three-day period,” explained GLA CEO Dr. Naomi Booker, who has been with the school since its 2006 founding. “We have to submit prior documentation, which took about a year. [AdvancED] then reviewed the documents.
“It has truly been an informative process; it’s like getting an exclamation point for what we have been doing,” Booker continued. “It also allows us to continue to improve our operations. The [accreditation] is an ongoing program, and every year we will do a mini-review to make sure we’re addressing the standards, and AdvancED will come in and review again in five years.”
According to AdvancED Northeast Region Associate Director Richard Parkin, Global is the first school in the region to earn accreditation under its stringent standards, and the importance of accreditation isn’t lost on Booker, who viewed accreditation for her school in the manner a prospective college student would look to attend an accredited college or university.
“With any school, you want to be accredited, so people can look at that and say the school is reaching the standards, and doing what it’s supposed to be doing,” said Booker, noting that this sort of accreditation is generally optional for charter school operators, but felt it was necessary for Global. “To have someone come in, an outside professional entity, and say, ‘Yes, this school is financially sound, curriculum is good and its board of governance is good,’ is very crucial, and those things are very important.
“None of us would go to the University of Pennsylvania if it weren’t accredited,” Booker continued. “And that’s the difference. None of us would want to go to a school that isn’t accredited.”
Booker reiterated that the success of Global hasn’t come at the expense of the traditional public education models provided by the School District of Philadelphia.
“We are a school that is providing choice to the people in Philadelphia, and that’s what charters are about,” Booker said. “There’s lots of negativity out there, with people feeling that [charter schools] are taking public school children out of their schools, and this is not the case.”