As children headed back to the classroom earlier this week, Alexandrias school board members began preparing for their annual retreat and fleshing out their goals for the coming year.
Newly elected school board chairwoman Sheryl Gorsuch expects members to continue focusing on the districts special education and English language learner populations in the coming months. Alexandria City Public Schools ELL population has doubled in recent years now at more than 2,800 students district-wide, according to superintendent Morton Sherman presenting a growing challenge to staff.
ACPS already has an office and program dedicated to students learning English as a second language and the boards focus will primarily be on making sure theyre effective, Gorsuch said.
The same can be said for the districts struggles to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act and measured by annual state Standards of Learning tests. While Alexandria failed to meet the increasingly tougher federal standards for the fifth consecutive year, just four school divisions in Virginia passed.
The board isnt eyeing any new programs to improve student scores, but theyre looking at ways to augment existing initiatives, Gorsuch said.
At this point its about staying the course and providing the support our staff needs in order to be successful, whether its professional development or a longer school year, she said. Those are the things were looking at.