Our Journey to High School Redesign
Over the course of four School Board meetings from August 2016 to February 2017 and a community meeting in January 2017, Albemarle County Public Schools presented and fine-tuned its vision and planning process for High School Redesign. A facility design and recommendation followed, along with 9th-grade implementation planning, ongoing communication and engagement, and additional community meetings.
The roots of High School Redesign, however, can be traced all the way back to 2003, with the division's focused commitment to innovating teaching and learning.
Design 2004 was a learning grant aimed at developing and implementing innovative, inquiry-based, technology-rich instructional strategies for the purpose of continuing to strengthen the division's instructional model for teaching and learning.
Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction (CAI) Institute
CAI represented a shift in professional development for the division and continues to serve as a vehicle for innovating practice, specifically in reference to a focus on performance tasks that assess skills critical for lifelong learning.
Framework for Quality Learning (FQL)
Our instructional philosophy is based on our curriculum framework, known as the Framework for Quality Learning. The FQL melds concept-centered curriculum, balanced assessment, and
high-yield instructional strategies into a concrete resource for
teachers to use in planning student learning experiences.
Central to the FQL are the division's Lifelong-Learner Competencies, a set of 12 broad-based essential skills that prepare students for higher education and the workplace.
Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA)
The Teacher Performance Appraisal provides a systematic structure to build and ensure a culture of professional learners committed to meeting the educational needs of all students. This growth-based model is designed to elevate the discussion around best practices in education as well as the needs of each individual teacher in the professional development process.
Professional Learning Community (PLC)
Our teachers engage in Professional Learning Communities in which they team together with other teachers in an ongoing cycle of questions that promotes deep team learning and leads to higher levels of student achievement.
Learning Walks constitute a valuable method of evaluating the instruction being delivered by teachers and the learning being mastered by students.
Through our Instructional Coaching model, coaches support teachers in designing curricula and assessments, utilizing best practices to meet the evolving needs of contemporary learners, integrating technology, and finding resources that maximize instruction. Instructional coaching is an essential part of our professional development offerings.
In spring 2013, at the direction of the School Board, Albemarle County Public Schools initiated a process to review our strategic plan, which was adopted in 2005 and slightly revised in 2010. Based on feedback gathered through the review process, the Board elected to move from five strategic goals to a single, student-centered strategic goal: All Albemarle County Public Schools students will graduate having actively mastered the lifelong-learning skills they need to succeed as 21st century learners, workers and citizens.
The resulting Horizon 2020 Strategic Plan is a reflection of our intentions to: foster deep learning experiences that develop essential competencies like communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving; and inspire the natural curiosity of our students, not through compliance and testing, but by cultivating engaging learning environments, hands-on learning experiences, and real-world learning opportunities.
Design 2015 was a learning grant aimed at blending best practices from the last century with those of the 21st century for the purposes of increasing student performance, redefining optimal learning, and ensuring that quality learning occurs for all young people enrolled in our schools.
High School of the Future Design Team
As part of the "High School of the Future Start-Up Weekend" sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), a design team from ACPS presented a "High School of the Future" concept based on the Design 2015 projects and collaborated with other presenters to research and plan how to begin transforming high schools to reflect contemporary learning and workforce needs. Based on the outcomes of the event, ACPS applied for and received a $20,000 start-up grant from the VDOE.
High School of the Future Pilot
The High School of the Future Design Team began interacting with School Board members, central office staff, school administrators, teachers, and students to discuss paradigm shifts in curriculum, assessment, instruction, technology, and learning spaces necessary to transform the learning experiences of our high school students.
Standards of Learning Innovation Committee
In 2014, the Virginia Department of Education's Standards of Learning Innovation Committee set forth 12 interim recommendations that led to changes in the state assessment and accountability system. In 2015, the Committee shifted its focus toward a broader, bolder, longer-term look at instruction, assessment and accountability with two statements of principle: (1) Virginia’s education system should prepare our students for success in post-secondary education, the workforce, and participation as productive citizens; and (2) Appropriate changes to Virginia’s accountability system can occur by further emphasizing measures of individual student growth while rebalancing the emphasis on students passing standardized tests.
In a report to the General Assembly on October 29, 2015, the Committee recommended that the Board of Education develop a Profile of a Virginia Graduate and adjust Virginia’s diploma requirements to conform with the profile.
XQ: The Super School Project - Top 50 Finalist
In 2015, XQ: The Super School Project launched, inviting school divisions across America to rethink high school. Over the course of a year and in competition for one of five $10 million grants, around 700 teams from across the nation submitted concepts for new or redesigned high schools. While ACPS ultimately was not chosen as a grant recipient, our proposal made it into the semi-final phase of review.
Profile of a Virginia Graduate
The 2016 General Assembly approved, and the governor signed, House Bill 895 and Senate Bill 336, which directed the Board of Education to develop and implement a Profile of a Virginia Graduate identifying the knowledge and skills that students should attain during high school in order to be successful. Guidance for the development of the profile included giving due consideration to the "5 Cs" (critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship); emphasizing the development of core skill sets in the early years of high school; and establishing multiple paths toward college and career readiness for students to follow in the later years of high school that could include opportunities for internships, externships, and credentialing.