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Posted: April 27, 2018

Strong Foundation

"As I enter my third year as superintendent, I’m starting to visualize progress as we shift attitudes, add programs and develop strategies that are directly impacting the education and lives of our students," Supt. Reedy wrote in her weekly message.

If you have ever built a house, you know what a tedious process it can be. First, there’s the saving and planning. Then comes the paperwork, rules, regulations, modifications, updates.  

It can be an emotional rollercoaster – until the foundation is laid and you start visualizing the living room, the kitchen, the bedrooms, the yard. You start seeing your dream as reality.

At Albuquerque Public Schools, we spent the first couple of years of my administration laying a strong foundation for becoming one of the premier school districts in the country. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, it has been a lot of hard work, and there is much more to do.

But as I enter my third year as superintendent, I’m starting to visualize progress as we shift attitudes, add programs and develop strategies that are directly impacting the education and lives of our students.

It started with a plan – an Academic Master Plan. We describe it as a roadmap for reshaping teaching, learning, classroom experiences and schools to fulfill the needs of a future generation.

After months of meetings, forums and discussions with input from hundreds of stakeholders from across the district, we developed the footings for our foundation, what we call the Supt’s Big 5: early learning, college and career readiness, the whole child, attendance, and community and parent engagement. These are our priorities, the core of our work.

We then created Learning Zones to help personalize the work in each of our unique schools, neighborhoods and communities.

Through the Zones we are conducting instructional rounds, regular school visits made by colleagues to provide feedback based on school-developed problems of practice. We are implementing 90-day plans that use data like test scores, demographics, proficiency and attendance rates to develop strategies for improving student achievement.

We are making changes, making plans, making progress. Some examples:

  • We streamlined and restructured departments and reduced spending at the district level in an effort to put more money into classrooms and schools. 
  • We are talking with the City of Albuquerque and Mayor Tim Keller about the possibility of expanding preschool in our schools. 
  • We have implemented an attendance project in elementary schools that have high levels of absences (with early signs of success!)
  • We are expanding school choice for our families, including creating a K-12 STEM magnet school pathway in the North Valley with funding provided by a U.S. Department of Education grant. We also opened a family school on the Westside, where we’re looking to expand blended online learning as well.
  • We have seen a substantial increase in the number of referrals for threat assessments of students, which is actually a good thing because it means people are reaching out to our professionals for early intervention.
  • We have enhanced our bilingual and dual language programs to ensure a continuum of services for students. Many of our high school students now have an opportunity to graduate with a bilingual seal in Spanish or Native American languages. 
  • We have expanded services to refugee students.
  • We are looking to expand Career Technical Education, internships and mentorships for students.
  • We are turning more of our schools into community schools that integrate academics, health, social services and family and community engagement.  
  • We are offering more focused professional development for our teachers and staff.
  • We are working to get more students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA because we know financial insecurities often keep students from attending post-secondary school.
  • We are working with New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions on setting up career and information fairs for our middle schoolers.
  • We are finding more ways for our students to earn dual credit, including by expanding College and Career High School on the CNM campus, which will welcome its first freshman class in the fall of 2019.
  • We have developed a series of videos called Families Connected to help parents engage with their child’s education and navigate the APS system.

These are just a few concrete examples of the many steps we are taking to improve. We are already seeing slow but steady growth and are looking forward to long-range success.

Thanks to all of you who have helped to develop a strong foundation for Albuquerque Public Schools. We look forward to continuing to work alongside you as we build on our accomplishments.