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Middle School Scheduling Update from Dr. Murphy

posted Jan 18, 2012, 12:31 PM by L M

Dear APS Families:

Over the past several days, there has been a great deal of discussion about middle school scheduling. I want you to know that we appreciate the feedback and concerns that have been expressed, and we are taking this into consideration as we move forward. The fact that the community has been engaged so strongly in this discussion has led me to evaluate the timelines to allow for more dialogue about developing a schedule that can best serve our middle school students.

We know that there is a lot of information circulating in our school community about this project, and we want to have an opportunity to have an in depth conversation with our families and to allow ample time for parents to hear all of the options and provide input before we move forward.

I know that, working together, we can arrive at a solution that will provide the best instructional blueprint for our students' future success. Therefore, we are delaying our presentation to the School Board in March for two months to provide additional time to continue our ongoing dialogue with families. In addition, we have added more opportunities for you to provide your suggestions.

In the meantime, I wanted to provide you with a broader background of the scope of work that has been underway since 2009, the timeline for the project, added resources available to you, and an overview of how you can participate in these conversations.

To get to the point where we are presently, there has been a great deal of discussion and work done by the Middle School Design Team. This group was originally created in 2007 and has been comprised of parents and community members; school-based staff including principals, teachers and counselors; and representatives from the central office and the Department of Instruction. Their work has included periodic updates to the School Board and conversations with many groups, including:

  • School-based and central office staff,
  • County Council of PTAs,
  • Advisory Council on Instruction,
  • The ACI Arts Advisory Committee,
  • Teachers Council on Instruction, and
  • APS Collaborative Professional Strategies Team.

WHY IS APS CONSIDERING A MIDDLE SCHOOL BLOCK SCHEDULE?

The Middle School Design Team process was put in place to examine our current delivery of instruction at the middle school level, and to find ways to provide:

  • Additional instructional time in the core subjects to improve achievement;
  • Increased elective choices for Grade 6 students; and
  • Support to enable a Grade 6-8 world language continuum.

HOW CAN I PROVIDE FEEDBACK?

For those wishing to attend in person, we have added three additional forums to the two that were already scheduled. There are now Five APS Community Forums scheduled to be held at the Arlington Education Center in the Board Room located at 1426 N. Quincy Street. (All sessions are the same, so parents only need to choose one session to attend in person.)

  • Wed, Feb. 1, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Wed, Feb. 1, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Tue, Feb. 7, from Noon to 2:00 p.m.
  • Tue, Feb. 21, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Wed, Feb. 22, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

The community forums will provide an overview of the Middle School Design Team process, an opportunity to look in greater detail at the proposed block scheduling designs, and time to provide feedback.

A Feedback Form is on the Middle School web page and can be used at any time to submit questions or suggestions. In addition, an APS Open Town Hall online forum about the Middle School Schedule will be available on the APS web site from January 30 through February 13 to gather more comments and ideas. Parents will be able to post their thoughts during the two-week "online forum" and can also read the online comments that are posted by others.

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?

A special web page has been created which includes all documents and background for the project. The information is at www.apsva.us/middleschool.

The page includes an archive of documents related to the project, as well as a list of more than 20 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in English and Spanish.

We look forward to the participation of all stakeholders over the coming months as we work to develop a plan to serve the instructional needs of our middle school students. Thank you for your advocacy and help to continue to create a strong academic program for our students and your children.

Sincerely,

Patrick K. Murphy, EdD

Superintendent

 

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