APS News Release

School Board Receives Update on English Learners Program, English Language Arts Program Evaluation, and 1:1 Digital Device Model

Celebrates Honored Citizens; Adopts Virginia School Board Association Legislative Positions for 2019

At the School Board meeting on May 30, staff presented updates on the English Speakers of Other Languages/High Intensity Language Training (ESOL/HILT) program and the findings of the English Language Arts (ELA) program evaluation. Both reports showed gains for students in the areas of academic performance, access and participation.

ESOL/HILT Program Update
As part of the ESOL/HILT Monitoring Report, staff presented English learner SOL percent pass rates in reading and math as well as enrollment in advanced courses and additional areas of focus. Highlights included:

  • As English learners acquire English proficiency and are given the time, quality instruction and supports needed, their SOL results are comparable or exceed non-English learner student performance.
  • For the 2017-18 school year, nearly 94% of English learners who have reached language proficiency passed their Reading SOLs compared to 92% of APS non-English learner students. In Math, SOL pass rates for English learners were comparable to non-English learners.
  • For 2016-17 and 2017-18, the percentage of APS English learners who achieved adequate language growth (64%) as defined by the Virginia Department of Education far surpassed state targets (46%).
  • ESOL/HILT provides a wide range of services to meet student needs, such as HILT Resource Counselors offering direct interventions on issues related to trauma, family reunification, and acculturation; Bilingual Family Liaisons helping students and families navigate resources; and mentoring programs at the high school level to support new arrivals and English learners in need.

Plans are in place to revise the program name in the 2019-20 school year to provide greater clarity for students and staff. The full Monitoring Report is available on BoardDocs.

English Language Arts (ELA) Program Evaluation
As part of the ELA evaluation report, staff presented key findings of the assessment of the program’s effectiveness, implementation and outcomes, based on student performance, observations, student feedback (via surveys) and other input collected in the 2017-18 school year. The evaluation was guided by a planning committee comprised of staff from Planning and Evaluation, Teaching and Learning and the ELA Office, as well as ELA teachers, school administrators and parents.Report highlights include:

  • Students at all levels report high rates of participation and feel interested and engaged in their English/Reading class. Most secondary students agreed that “My English and/or Reading class challenges me to think at a higher level or solve problems creatively.”
  • Teachers and students agree that the literature they read in class has diverse authors and characters, and is relevant to students’ lives.
  • More than 80 percent of APS students are passing the Reading SOL and Writing SOL assessments, with varying trends in proficiency during a time of change in state testing requirements.
  • Most high school students enrolled in advanced ELA coursework stay on an advanced pathway.

Over the past three years, former English learners have been enrolled in advanced ELA coursework at rates very similar to their overall high school enrollment.

  • Gaps in the pass rate for the Standards of Learning (SOL) Reading exam have decreased from 40 to 28 percentage points on the 6th grade test, from 52 to 28 percentage points on the 7th grade test, and from 46 to 41 percentage points on the 8th grade test.

Staff also provided recommendations for improvements aligned with new state graduation requirements and the APS 2018-24 Strategic Plan in seeking multiple pathways to success for all students. Areas of focus moving forward include professional learning for K-12 literacy progression, increased access to reading specialists in high school, and consistent student access to high quality texts in ELA classrooms.   The full report, an executive summary and a one-page overview about this evaluation are available online.

School Board Honored Citizens Recognitions
The School Board also recognized the 2019 Honored Citizens at the beginning of the meeting. The Honored Citizen Award recognizes volunteers who have made extraordinary contributions to our schools. School Board members highlighted the contributions of 12 outstanding Honored Citizens selected for their sustained commitment to APS.

Other May 30 School Board Actions and Items of Note

  • Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) Legislative Positions – The Board adopted proposed Legislative Positions to be submitted to VSBA for 2019, focusing on five key topics:
    • Performance-based assessments for end-of-course Standards of Learning tests;
    • Requiring the State Board of Education to establish a State School Health Advisory Committee;
    • Coordination between school divisions and the Virginia Community College System;
    • Elimination of mandatory reporting of misdemeanors and status offenses by students to law enforcement for school-based offenses; and
    • Decriminalizing disorderly conduct for school-base offenses.
  • Washington-Lee Renaming Costs – Staff presented the $224,360 cost for the Washington‐Lee renaming and that the funds be provided from the Future Budget Years Reserve. The amount covers signage at the school as well as provides new materials with the new name such as uniforms, athletic equipment and music stands.
  • Solar Photovoltaic Rooftop Systems Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) – Allows for taking advantage of a tax credit through the tax equity in the project.
  • Contract Award for Arlington Tech Summer 2019 Construction – Staff presented a proposal to authorize staff to award multiple tasks to two construction companies, with an amount to each company not exceeding $500,000, and a cumulative total not exceeding $1,000,000. The Board would also approve the project budget and authorize staff to encumber funds as necessary to meet the project schedule.
  • Construction MOU for Westover Library and New Elementary School at Reed – This would authorize the School Board Chair to sign the Memorandum of Understanding Between Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools Regarding the Construction of the New Elementary at the

 Details on all items are available on BoardDocs.

1:1 Digital Device Model Work Session
On Wednesday, May 29, the School Board held a work session to discuss the 1:1 Digital Device Model, which is currently implemented for grades 3-12 to provide equal access to content and creation opportunities for all students. Representatives from the Department of Teaching and Learning, Finance, and Information of Services as well as Instructional Technology Coordinators (ITCs) participated.

At the work session, staff gathered feedback from the School Board on the current model, including strengths, opportunities and associated costs, and discussed alternative models to inform future updates and next steps. The Board emphasized the need for further data to show instructional benefits and gains associated with access to technology.

Next steps include:

  • November 2019: Phase Two of 1:1 Study
  • December 2019: Recommendations to update 1:1 Digital Device Model
  • Fall 2019: Loaner Program Phase in

View the presentation on BoardDocs or watch the Work Session in full here.    

Next School Board Meetings
The motions are available on BoardDocs. The next School Board meeting will take place on June 6.

For More Information
Citizens who want to comment on any items discussed at the School Board meeting should email the Board at school.board@apsva.us or call 703-228-6015. School Board meetings are broadcast live on Comcast Cable Channel 70 and Verizon FiOS Channel 41; live-streamed on the APS website, and re-broadcast on Fridays at 9 p.m. and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. immediately following the meeting. All materials and minutes will be posted to the website at www.apsva.us/schoolboard upon School Board approval at a subsequent meeting.