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April 11, 2012 Published in Schools, Top Stories

ACPS Strategic Plan Earns First-Place Magna Award

The Alexandria City Public Schools Strategic Plan is one of only 15 programs to receive a first-place honor in the 2012 Magna Awards. The program is co-sponsored by “American School Board Journal,” the National School Boards Association and Sodexo School Services. It recognizes “school board best practices and innovative programs that advance student learning.”

Created by the, the five-year Strategic Plan, which was adopted by the Alexandria City School Board in 2009, features high-quality preschools, a focus on special education, individual achievement plans for students, a richer array of course offerings, increased accountability of school employees and the a rigorous new curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking and project-based learning.

"This Magna Award is a tangible representation of the Alexandria School Board’s commitment to improving academic achievement and providing outstanding educational opportunities for all students,” said Alexandria City School Board Chairman Sheryl Gorsuch. “With this honor highlighting good Boardmanship, we are proud of our inclusive community engagement in the strategic planning process and the positive trends in student achievement realized in a relatively short period of time."

ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman congratulated the Board for this honor. “This honor validates the countless hours of hard work our board spent attending community meetings, engaging citizens in discussion and working with a network of specialists and volunteers to create a solid plan that focuses on how best to assist our children,” He said. “The board’s efforts demonstrate that even in difficult economic times, and despite increasing enrollment, school boards can provide high-quality education that meets the needs of a widely diverse urban student population.”

American School Board Journal Publisher Anne Bryant sent a letter of congratulations to ACPS Deputy Superintendent Madye Henson. “A panel of judges selected the program from hundreds of entries. We know school board members who are looking for fresh, exciting and practical ways to encourage excellence in education will find the winning entries of great interest,” Bryant wrote.

A description of the winning program is scheduled to appear in a special supplement of the May 2012 issue of “American School Board Journal.” Honorees also are invited to attend the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon during the NSBA Annual Conference in Boston, April 21-23.

“The coordinated assault on the achievement gap in all grades that our board launched, and its refusal to limit the size and scope of needed changes even during an economic downturn, have put thousands of students on a new path toward success,” ACPS Institutional Development Grants Officer Philippa Smithey wrote in the award nomination she submitted on behalf of the school board. “Clearly, the actions and choices of our board explain why today the Alexandria City Public Schools is a division on the rise.”

The nomination also describes the plan’s methods for providing solutions: “Our Board examined the issues affecting children of every age group and quickly put in place systems to move forward its vision, citing such measures as writing and mathematics centers at T.C. Williams High School, expanded online learning opportunities, extended school learning options, tutoring, increased opportunities for student participation in the arts and athletics, reduced student-to-counselor ratios and dual credit courses.”

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