Albuquerque Public Schools has until April 11 to take the lead in turning around three of its worst-performing schools.
Its leaders need to embrace this second chance for the sake of their students. Because if they don’t, the New Mexico Public Education Department will. Either way, the students at Los Padillas, Whittier and Hawthorne elementaries deserve better than schools that get an “F” grade year after year after year because too few improve academically. They deserve thriving, successful schools where students of every background can achieve and succeed in the classroom.
APS’ first turnaround go-round fell short, with the district opting for what amounts to re-arranging deck chairs on a sinking ship. There was little to no mention of embracing student data or focusing on improving student outcomes to ensure kids are learning. There were minimal changes in talent, with the district opting to help educators “embark on a professional development journey” rather than setting up a system to get high-performing lead teachers and principals in place, now. There appeared to be no real commitment to increased instructional time, be it longer or additional classes or intensive tutoring. Yet all four schools requested inordinate amounts of extra funding – as in seven figures each – for their minimal changes. APS was asking for about $3 million per school over the three-year period, or about $1 million a year.
In total, APS delivered three near-identical plans that lacked the “requisite urgency, clarity and cohesiveness to dramatically improve student achievement outcomes,” state Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski wrote to APS officials.