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Posted August 11, 2017

Albuquerque Public Schools Creates Learning Zones

APS is combining the advantages of being a large urban school district with a more personalized approach to education.

Albuquerque Public Schools is rolling out a new approach to education this school year called Learning Zones or LZs for short. 

With more than 84,000 students, 142 schools and 12,000 full-time employees, APS is among the largest urban school districts in the country. There are some real advantages to being large – more resources, more choices, more opportunities as well as economies of scales.

On the other hand, APS is made up of neighborhoods and communities that have different wants and needs. One part of town might demand dual language programs, for example, while another might expect schools to serve as hubs for services.

The development of LZs allows APS to combine the advantages of being a large urban school district with a more personalized approach to education that meets the shared needs of its community through support, resources and professional learning.

“Our students all want the same basic things from their education. They want to be able to read, write and solve problems. They want to graduate prepared to go to college, trade school or into the military on their way to successful careers. They want to feel safe and comfortable. But their paths to meeting these goals might look different depending on what part of town they live in,” said APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy. “That’s why we’re taking this more personalized approach to teaching and learning. Education, after all, shouldn’t be one size fits all.”

The LZs are four smaller, geographic areas in APS. Each is made up of about 21,000 students in 35 or so schools. Each zone has three high schools – except LZ4 which has four – along with their feeder schools. They are:

  • LZ-1: Albuquerque, Highland and Manzano high schools and their feeder schools.
  • LZ-2: Atrisco Heritage, Rio Grande and West Mesa high schools and their feeder schools. 
  • LZ-3: Cibola, Valley and Volcano Vista high schools and their feeder schools.
  • LZ-4: Del Norte, Eldorado, La Cueva and Sandia high schools and their feeder schools.

Each will be assigned an associate superintendent along with support staff. The associate superintendents, all long-time educators, are:

  • LZ-1: Dr. Gabriella Duran Blakey
  • LZ-2: Dr. Antonio Gonzales
  • LZ-3: Yvonne Garcia
  • LZ-4: Troy Hughes

The associate superintendents and support staff will be on hand to support the schools and provide needed services on a daily basis. They’ll help with training, instruction, data collection and interpretation, technology, testing, special education and more.

The LZs take a vertical approach to education. APS is looking at schools less as levels – elementary versus middle versus high – and more as a continuum of education that begins as pre-schoolers start learning their ABCs and ends with seniors walking across a stage to pick up their diploma.

Schools in each LZ will learn from and support each other, too. One way they’ll do this is by conducting monthly “rounds” at schools in each LZ.

Similar to hospital rounds made by doctors, school rounds involve colleagues – in this case associate superintendents and neighboring principals – making visits to provide feedback. The rounds have been very effective, resulting in enhanced dialogue and collaboration among feeder school communities.

The LZs are the implementation part of the APS Academic Master Plan.

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