This is an excellent district with so many strengths, it’d be hard to name them all — Dr. Vicki Denmark


Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education held a special session Monday evening to hear a presentation on the accreditation process, as well as its importance when it comes to reputation and recognition – and to keep parents moving to the City of Vision for its quality education.

According to its website (, Cognia is “a global network of enthusiastic educators here to help you strengthen your schools. Our holistic approach to continuous improvement encompasses accreditation and certification, assessment, professional learning and customized improvement services.”

Board members were pleased to hear the district’s index of educational quality is extremely high, along with what else Dr. Vicki Denmark from Cognia, told them in her presentation, highlighting the district’s successes as well as providing areas for improvement.

What Cognia supplies for its member districts, she said, is “a powerful tool for driving improvement.

“Cognia always focuses on the learner … to impact and inspire education providers,” she said, explaining that the concept of being accredited is a “voluntary method … started over 100 years ago.”

Cognia’s standards, she said, are based on research and best practices, with a focus on continuous improvement to basically ensure all students have a pathway to success.

Remaining accredited through Cognia is a journey.

“It never ends, it just keeps on going,” Denmark said. “It is continuous improvement, meaning whenever and whatever needs to be improved is … constantly in that motion of improving.”

Cognia gathers first-hand information to evaluate districts — reviewing documentation, interviewing stakeholder groups, which includes parents and students; and assessing the quality of learning environment – before providing written feedback to help districts on their journeys.

During Cognia’s evaluation of RRPS, Denmark said each of 31 standards was rated five times.

Bottom line, Denmark told the board: “This is an excellent district with so many strengths, it’d be hard to name them all.”

Among those strengths were RRPS’s focus on its stakeholders and the community, its Career-Technical Education program, Parent University and transparency, “with comprehensive outreach to communicate to and with all stakeholders,” and a deep commitment to continuous improvement.

There are still challenges, Denmark said. She touched upon some areas of needed improvement, such as collecting and analyzing data, expanding college and career readiness to elementary students and re-introducing creativity, problem-solving and collaboration – some of which went missing during the pandemic.

Sue Cleveland

Superintendent V. Sue Cleveland followed up the Cognia presentation by pointing out one of the district’s self-assessments “is a strong desire to re-instill the love of learning, the joy of education … We saw, across the district, to re-think how we engage learners.”

Cleveland also said she likes the way Cognia will assist in RRPS’s journey.

“It’s not like what we used to do, and some of us go back a long time, that it’s not ‘one and done and you’re out and we’ll see you in 10 years,” she said.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 13.