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Superintendent's News

Posted: August 11, 2023

Turning the Page on Poor Student Outcomes

In his weekly message, Superintendent Scott Elder calls for all APS employees to work together to ensure that students have every opportunity to succeed.

Superintendent Scott Elder welcomes students and staff at La Mesa Elementary.

Superintendent Scott Elder welcomes students and staff at La Mesa Elementary.

We exist to educate students.

The reality is that we do so much more – from busing and feeding them to providing clothes and supplies to those in need and offering robust extracurricular activities. All of that is vitally important, but we can never lose sight of the fact that our core mission is to educate kids and help them attain the skills they will need to succeed in life.

That has to be at the center of everything we do at APS. It’s already at the center of the five-year goals our Board of Education has established.

We’ve already talked about the new goals, but, as a reminder, they include raising our third-grade proficiency rates in English language arts and our eighth-grade proficiency rates in math by at least 10 percentage points. Our third goal is to improve post-secondary readiness, which translates into getting students to take more advanced placement and dual credit courses, among other efforts. The fourth goal is to ensure that our students have the skills, mindsets, and habits they will need to be successful in life.

How will we achieve these goals? That’s where our Emerging Stronger strategic plan comes in. It is our roadmap.

We boiled it down to four big priorities:

  • Setting clear expectations, which is making sure everyone at APS is on the same page, knows what we’re aiming for, and what our role is in achieving academic success for all students.

  • Providing rigorous instruction, essentially making sure our students are being taught at grade level with high-quality textbooks, workbooks, digital resources, and other materials, and that principals are supporting this work.

  • The third priority is having engaged students, empowering them to participate in decisions that affect them, and doing everything we can to ensure our schools are safe and that students feel welcome and challenged.

  • The final one is instituting responsive and coordinated systems, which means that everything we do at our administrative offices – from preparing budgets and communicating to the way we deploy technology – is rooted in the needs of our students and schools and that when someone calls two APS departments and asks a question, they’re getting the same response.

There are a host of tasks that fall under each one of these four priorities. Executing our Emerging Stronger plan will be difficult. It will take years, but we will do it piece by piece. We can succeed if we all pull in the same direction.

You will be hearing a lot more about the plan, but I wanted to make sure you had a quick overview.

I’m sure many of you are wondering how this initiative will be different from all the others. This is the first time the APS administration and board have collaborated on a plan that assigns specific actions with the expectation that student outcomes will improve over five years. And this time, there’s a concerted effort to direct all of the district’s resources toward achieving those goals, which will be monitored and measured. We will be transparent about the progress we’re making toward achieving those goals.

We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but I have faith in our teachers, in our support staff, and in our students. We can do this!