Making the Grade

Dr. Heather Donaldson

Chief Academic Officer

Madison City Schools


In March, Madison City Schools went through the process of district accreditation.


Members of a five person review team from Cognia, which is an international accrediting agency, reviewed evidence, read our district narrative, and interviewed Madison City stakeholders. In the end, MCS passed with a 378 out of 400 in the Cognia accreditation scale. The review team shared that the district earned the highest level - a level of 4 - in 29 of 31 standards and a slightly lesser 3 out of 4 in the remaining two standards.


The accreditation review included a presentation from Dr. Nichols and other district leaders and interviews with Dr. Nichols, the Board of Education, district leaders, parents, community partners, school leaders, students, teachers, and other instructional staff. The Cognia review team had the opportunity to interview 179 Madison City stakeholders.


Thank you to our district team leads for working so hard to help prepare for the review: Dr. David West, Mrs. Lee Shaw, Mrs. Sharon Powell, and Mrs. Mary Oliver. Thank you to everyone who served on a district team and also to every school administrator who led a team within each school. A big thank you to our teachers who served on school teams. Over 200 Madison City employees had a hand in preparing for this review.



We recently received the final accreditation report and learned that the district earned full accreditation status.


In the report, the Cognia review team identified four themes in the areas of Culture, Data Use, Curriculum and Instruction, and Long-Range Strategic Planning.



The review team also shared in the final report that the district earned the highest level, a level 4, in 29 of the 31 standards. The district earned a level 3 in two of the 31 standards. The two areas that the review team suggested as areas of improvement include the following: (1) having a more formalized structure to ensure students develop positive relationships with adults and peers in their building and (2) expanding the opportunities for teacher collaboration.



The Cognia review team also provided an IEQ score. The IEQ is The Index of Education Quality. Madison City Schools earned a 378.23 out of 400 on the accreditation review. Cognia provides a 5 year average of IEQ scores and that average range is from 278 to 283. Congratulations to Madison City Schools for scoring well above the average range, earning a 378 out of 400.



The review team shared their appreciation for the opportunity to speak with so many stakeholders who were “committed, thoughtful, open, and honest.” They shared a list of words that were frequently used by stakeholders during the interviews: “Family,” “Awesome,” “Excellent,” “Innovative,” “Dynamic,” “Resilient,” “Teamwork,” and “Diversity.” They also shared quotes from community stakeholder interviews: “Madison City Schools are the crown jewel of Madison” and “Innovation is what sets us apart.”


The praise from the accreditation review team is a direct reflection of the dedication of every stakeholder within our district and the programs and best practices that our teachers put in place in our classrooms each and every day. This is also a direct reflection of 200 school and district administrators, teachers, reading coaches, instructional partners, and so many others who helped prepare for this process. A process like this takes a team, and we have the best in Madison City Schools!