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Superintendent's News

Posted: September 9, 2022

Focus on Instruction: A Message from Supt. Elder

In his weekly message to employees, APS Superintendent Scott Elder writes about his plan to improve academic outcomes.

We all know that the purpose of public education is to provide free, quality education to all children, no matter their background. The foundation of that education combines core knowledge in subjects such as literacy and math with life skills, including critical thinking, collaboration, adaptivity, and communication.

We also know all too well how this educational foundation can be shaken by basic needs such as health and safety, especially during a once-in-a-century global crisis.

During the pandemic, Albuquerque Public Schools became enmeshed in the nitty gritty work of solving unprecedented problems and removing unforeseen barriers. Like school districts across the nation, conversations went from teaching ABCs to installing HEPA filters. Computers that once served as learning tools became vital means of connection. We spent less time on lesson planning because we needed more time for logistics planning.

Now, it is time to return to our foundation with a focus on high-quality, equity-driven instruction.

We know how to get back on the academic track. This includes:

  • Collaborating with school staff to help teachers effectively design and deliver student-centered instruction.
  • Developing continuity of practice across the district. What happens in sixth grade at one middle school should be happening in sixth grade at middle schools across town.
  • Taking an honest look at student work and data, including assessments and attendance.
  • Examining and analyzing work and data specific to students in Yazzie-Martinez subgroups, including low-income students, Native Americans, students who speak English as a second language, and students with disabilities.
  • Having hard conversations about making adjustments to instruction when student work and data indicate the need.
  • Utilizing data, so departments understand what support schools need.
  • Providing leadership training for principals and literacy training for teachers. The state is investing heavily in literacy training that gives teachers the skills they need to master the fundamentals of reading instruction. We need to make sure these skills are being used.
  • Using recent state assessment results to establish a baseline for targeting instruction to improve student outcomes in English/language arts and math.

I am planning a dozen instructional school visits in the coming weeks, where I will visit classrooms and meet with principals, teachers, and staff. I am looking forward to seeing how professional training has impacted instruction. I want to see how teachers use student data to differentiate and adjust learning and how schools integrate interventions and supports.

I’m looking for progress. Progress we can all be a part of. Progress that improves the academic outcomes of our students.