Park View Education Centre has become the South Shore Regional School Board’s first accredited school, and the fifth overall in the province. The Bridgewater-area high school received the distinction under the Nova Scotia School Accreditation Program, today, May 29. Accreditation status took five years of work by Park View to set higher standards, increase student achievement and improve the school’s overall performance. “Park View Education Centre can be proud of its accomplishments,” said Education Minister Karen Casey. “I want to congratulate the staff, students, the school advisory committee and the entire school community, who put so much effort into a school-improvement strategy that is clearly increasing student achievement.” The school was among the first group of schools selected in 2003 to pilot the Nova Scotia Accreditation Program, a school-improvement process identified as a priority in Learning For Life II, the province’s multi-year plan for education. There are now 229 schools working on school-improvement plans. Park View focused its efforts on improving student achievement in literacy, enhancing overall school performance by establishing strategies to improve communication with parents and creating a safe and caring school climate. “The accreditation process has allowed us to carefully examine what we do, how well we do it and, most importantly, how we can improve,” said principal Charles Williamson. In October 2007, the school showed an external review team it had successfully met its goal of improving student achievement in provincial examinations, by increasing the average mark to 64 per cent, a 10 per cent improvement from 2003-04. The school also met its goal of creating a safer and more caring learning environment for students and staff. The school adopted a number of strategies, including Positive and Effective Behaviour Supports, to improve the learning environment. The Nova Scotia School Accreditation Program requires schools meet a standard of excellence based on goals that are specific and strategic, measurable, attainable, results-based and time-bound. Under the program, schools establish internal review teams to collect and evaluate data, to identify strengths and areas needing improvement. Based on the areas needing improvement, schools develop goals and a five-year school-improvement plan. The plan is examined by an external review team of independent educators and administrators who visit each school before approving it. Schools implement the improvement plan, and provide annual updates to school advisory councils. An accreditation team returns to the school after four years to assess the progress. Schools receive accreditation after they show progress toward their improvement-plan goals.