News from 2023-2024

Posted: August 30, 2023

Aiming for the Stars

APS unveils plan to improve outcomes for all students.

Superintendent Scott Elder and the APS Board of Education.

Superintendent Scott Elder and the APS Board of Education.

Goals, guardrails, strategic plan. These words have dominated Board of Education meetings and nearly every aspect of work at APS administrative offices over the last year. But what does it all mean? Why should we care? How will this be different from the countless other initiatives aimed at moving the needle on education?

The goals are the ambitious things we want to achieve over the next five years. 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 and improving 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.

The guardrails are lines the board doesn’t want APS to cross as it works to meet the goals. They include such directives as ensuring that resources are distributed equitably.

The lives of our students will improve if we succeed, but how do we achieve these goals our Board of Education has set forth? That’s where our Emerging Stronger strategic plan comes in. It is the roadmap.

We will get there through clear expectations – making sure everyone at APS is on the same page, knowing what the overall goals are, understanding each of our roles in achieving academic success for all students, creating high expectations, and being accountable to our students and to our colleagues.

We will get there through rigorous instruction, which means making sure students are being taught at grade level with high-quality materials and that principals are supporting this work. It also means doing a better job of serving students with disabilities and being consistent in how we grade.

We will get there through engaged students, providing them with leadership opportunities, and empowering them to participate in decisions that affect them. It also means doing everything in our power to ensure that our schools and classrooms are safe; that we’re making our students feel welcome and addressing their social and emotional health; and that we’re providing them with stimulating academic and extracurricular opportunities that meet their individual needs.

And we will get there by instituting responsive and coordinated systems – a fancy way of saying we need to ensure 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. This includes being consistent across Central Office departments in what we’re telling schools.

These four priorities are laid out in the strategic plan created by the administration, and there are a host of tasks that fall under each one. Executing the strategic plan will be a Herculean task, one that will take years to pull off. But it’s attainable if we all pull in the same direction.

How will this initiative 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 owe it to our students to aim for the stars.

To view the strategic plan, go to our Emerging Stronger page.