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News from 2022-2023

Posted: March 16, 2023

We’re considering several changes for the 2023-2024 school year

Calendar has school starting a week earlier, adds four instructional days

Spring Break is a day away, and I know that our students, teachers, principals and the rest of our school staff are looking forward to some much-deserved time off. It’s that point in the year when we begin to get excited because graduation and summer vacation are within sight.

I know many of you are eager to start the weeklong break, but before you check out, I want to share with you the proposed school calendar and the schedules we’re considering for the next school year. Beyond sharing that information and asking for your input, I want to explain the reasons for the proposed changes.

APS has always stood with state officials and members of our own school board who are adamant that student outcomes have to improve and that we, as school leaders, need to do everything in our power to make that happen, even if it’s uncomfortable and disrupts the status quo.

State lawmakers have passed legislation that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to sign into law mandating additional instructional time throughout the state. And the APS Board of Education recently approved goals that, among other things, call for dramatic improvements in reading and math proficiency rates for our students within the next five years.

We’ve listened and agree that now is the time to be bold and to take steps that, while uncomfortable, have the potential to move the needle on student achievement. We owe it to our students to do everything we can so that they are prepared for the real world once they leave us.

We used that guiding principle as we were putting together the 2023-24 school calendar, a calendar that we feel gives our students the best chance for succeeding in the classroom. We’re releasing it today for your input. That input will be provided to board members before they vote on the calendar in April.

Among the highlights:

  • We’ve added four additional instructional days for all students, from 178 to 182 days. The calendar also has six professional development days built in.
  • The school year would start on Aug 3, about a week earlier than this year, and it would end on May 31 for most students. Students attending our 21 Transformational Opportunity Pilot Schools, or TOPs, would remain in school until June 10.
  • Summer and fall breaks would be shorter, but students would have longer winter and spring breaks. Specifically, they would get close to three weeks off for winter break and nearly two weeks for spring break.
  • We’re moving to a quarterly grading schedule at all of our schools.
  • And finally, all elementary and middle school students, except for those attending our 21 TOPs schools, would have early release on most Wednesdays to allow two hours of collaboration time for our teachers. This is partly driven by the legislation the House and Senate approved on additional instructional time.

We recognize that changes to the school calendar alone won’t improve student outcomes. So we’re also giving serious consideration to revamping our start times to give our high school students a later start.

A joint APS/Albuquerque Teachers Federation task force has been studying best practices for high schools and is recommending a later start time for those students, who now begin class at around 7:25 a.m. Some students have Zero Hour period at 6 a.m. The research shows that too-early start times result in more absences and tardies and lower test scores and graduation rates. The research also tells us that a later start time is better for the health of high school students.

Santa Fe and Las Cruces public schools have already instituted later start times for their high school students.

It’s worth noting that instituting later start times at our high schools would impact start times for our elementary and middle school students. Given our busing situation, we need to have staggered start times. These options are complex and we’re working to iron out the details and will share those with you once they are finalized.

We recognize that these are big changes and that potential schedule changes, in particular, are likely to cause concern.

We want to hear from you on these changes. Please submit your input on the proposed calendar by Wednesday, March 29, 2023, through our 2023-2024 calendar survey.

We recognize that this proposed calendar isn’t perfect. No calendar is, given the logistics involved with coordinating such things as bus schedules, professional development, athletics and so much more. But we feel it’s a good, solid plan that has the most promise for our students.

Again, we recognize that changes like the ones we’re considering are going to be disruptive. Please know that we’re trying to do what’s best for our students and to give them every opportunity to succeed.

With that I wish you a restful Spring Break.

Sincerely,

Scott Elder, Superintendent