By Carla Branch and Katie Smythe
alexandrianews.org

ACPS Superintendent Dr. Alvin Crawley (Photo: Katie Smythe)

Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley resignation last week caught City officials and the school community by surprise. Crawley will begin the next phase of his career as an Associate Professor in Leadership in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Mason University.

“It is with mixed emotions that I tendered my resignation to the School Board on Tuesday (May 9) after serving as Interim Superintendent and Superintendent since October 2013,” said Crawley. “I have always believed that the success of our school division does not rest within one person but requires the collective work, energy, expertise and commitment of many. Throughout my time here our students have been the driving force and source of energy in our work. It has been an honor, privilege and pleasure to be their superintendent. I know the school division will continue to exhibit relentless passion and focus to ensure every student succeeds.

“I have been an educator for 37 years and at this point in my life would like to use my experiences to teach, mentor to future leaders, and write at the university level,” Crawley said.

Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg learned of Crawley’s resignation shortly before the ACPS press release was made public.

“Dr. Crawley has been a catalyst for progress on behalf of our wonderful students and school staff,” said Silberberg. "His leadership has increased student achievement, helping position ACPS to become a high-performing school division. His vision has translated into actions that will benefit not only our children, but our entire community. We thank him, we will miss him, and we wish him all the best as he takes on a new role in higher education.”

Alexandria Vice Mayor Justin Wilson serves on the City/School Committee with Silberberg; the Chair and Vice Chair of the Alexandria City School Board; City Manager Mark Jinks; and Crawley.

"I am very disappointed to hear of Dr. Crawley's departure,” Wilson said. “As an ACPS parent and a policymaker, I have great confidence in the academic trajectory of the Alexandria City Public Schools in large part due to Dr. Crawley's efforts leading our system these past few years.

“He provided steady, soft-spoken leadership that was constantly focused on the success of our children, and I'm grateful for that.

“There is a never a good time for this, but this is a particularly challenging time for this transition. I look forward to working with the School Board to ensure continuity as we work to address the challenges of our growing system," said Wilson.

The School Board has not yet announced how they will proceed to hire a new superintendent. “I was a member of the Board when we hired Dr. Crawley and I wish him well at George Mason University,” said former School Board member Patricia Hennig. “Dr. Crawley was actually the second ACPS superintendent I was involved in hiring as I was a member of the Board from 1997-2000 and from 2012-2015.

“I hope the Board takes the time they need to conduct a thorough search for the next superintendent. Ideally, they hire an interim superintendent for a year while they conduct their search,” Hennig said.

Crawley’s final day at ACPS is July 28. He is not the only member of ACPS’ Central Office staff who is leaving. According to ACPS sources, Chief Operating Officer Clarence Stukes announced his resignation to his staff on Monday. Stukes came to ACPS in November, 2014. He worked with Crawley in both Prince George’s County, Maryland, and in Arlington County.

ACPS Federal SOL Performance: 2013-14, 2014-15, and preliminary 2015-16 (courtesy image)

ACPS: The Crawley Years

Table: ACPS Federal SOL Performance: 2013-2014, 2014-2015 and Preliminary 2015-2016. Click for full size table.

When Crawley arrived at ACPS in the fall 2013, 13 schools were Fully Accredited for the 2013-2014 school year: John Adams, Charles Barrett, Cora Kelly, Douglas MacArthur, George Mason, Lyles-Crouch, Maury, Mount Vernon, James K. Polk, William Ramsay, Samuel Tucker, George Washington 1 (Middle School), and T.C. Williams High School. Five ACPS schools are Accredited with Warning: Patrick Henry, George Washington 2, Francis Hammond 1 (Middle School), Francis Hammond 2 (Middle School), and Francis Hammond 3 (Middle School). Jefferson-Houston remained in Accreditation Denied status.

In the fall of 2016, 11 ACPS schools were Fully Accredited for the 2016-2017 school year: Charles Barrett, Cora Kelly, Douglas MacArthur, George Mason, Lyles-Crouch, Maury, Mount Vernon, James Polk, Patrick Henry and Samuel Tucker elementary schools and George Washington Middle School.

Three Alexandria public schools – John Adams Elementary School, William Ramsay Elementary School and T. C. Williams High School – were Partially Accredited: Warned School–Pass Rate for the 2016-2017 school year. Partially Accredited: Warned School–Pass Rate schools are not within a narrow margin of, nor making acceptable progress toward, achieving the adjusted SOL pass rates required for full accreditation.

Francis C. Hammond Middle School was Partially Accredited: Improving School–Pass Rate for the 2016-2017 school year. Partially Accredited: Improving School–Pass Rate Schools are not Fully Accredited, and do not qualify for a rating of Partially Accredited: Approaching Benchmark–Pass Rate, but are making acceptable progress toward full accreditation or that are raising the achievement of low performing students.

William Ramsay Elementary School was designated a Focus School. Federal accountability standards define Focus Schools as comprising 10% of Title I schools selected on the basis of achievement gaps. Focus Schools must employ state-approved, school-improvement coaches. Focus schools retain their designation for a minimum of two years — unless they are subsequently identified as Priority schools or no longer receive federal Title I funding.

Alexandria’s Jefferson-Houston School had Accreditation Denied for the fifth consecutive year for 2016-2017 because of persistently low student achievement. Under federal accountability standards, Jefferson-Houston was designated a Priority School. Priority Schools comprise the lowest-performing 5% of Title I schools and must engage a state-approved turnaround partner to help design and implement school-reform models that meet state and federal requirements. Jefferson-Houston’s turnaround partner presented a report on the school’s progress to the School Board last week.

ACPS enrollment 2013-2018

ACPS student enrollment has continued to increase during Crawley’s tenure. Student enrollment as reported on Sept. 30, 2013, for the 2013-2014 school year was 13,114. Student enrollment on Sept. 30, 2014, was 13,623. Student enrollment on Sept. 30, 2015, was 14,224. Student enrollment on Sept. 30, 2016, was 15,104.

In September 2014, the new $45 million preK-8 Jefferson-Houston School opened with 500 students enrolled. Now in its third year, the school is still not at capacity. In December 2016, City Council approved another preK-8 school on the Patrick Henry school site in Alexandria’s West End. The school will cost $48 million and will open in the fall of 2018. The School Board is also planning to purchase and remodel an office building at 1701 N. Beauregard Street which will serve as a new West End elementary school. It is projected to cost $38 million and is expected to open in the fall of 2018.

Crawley worked with the School Board on the first redistricting undertaken by ACPS since 1999. The plan, which was approved by the School Board in late January of this year, created new elementary school boundaries that will affect less than 500 students. ACPS staff, School Board members and a consultant began working on the redistricting effort in the fall of 2015.

In their press release announcing his departure, ACPS listed Dr. Crawley’s contributions as follows:

  • Launching ACPS 2020, a five-year divisionwide strategic plan with reporting structures that is truly integrated with the work of the school division
  • Consolidating middle schools to be more cohesive and consistent
  • Increasing overall student achievement performance and narrowing the achievement gap on state assessments across all schools
  • Jefferson-Houston improving its state rankings and coming incredibly close to achieving accreditation
  • Transforming Mount Vernon Community School into a schoolwide Dual Language Program
  • Laying the foundation for an Early College Program in partnership with NOVA
  • Laying the foundation for a new Pre-K Center Program at John Adams
  • Purchasing the first new school building for Alexandria in 17 years
  • Seeing our three middle schools RAMP certified by the American School Counselor Association and establishing a framework to achieve this certification for all ACPS schools
  • Implementing the first divisionwide redistricting initiative since 1999
  • Implementing a Restorative Practice Initiative model at T.C. Williams High School
  • Beginning the process of cultural competency training throughout the division
  • Expanding Chromebooks into middle school and grades 4 and 5 of all elementary schools
  • Developing and implementing the first Teacher Leadership Program with Arlington Public Schools and George Mason University
  • Restructuring the Curriculum and Instruction Department to be better aligned with and responsive to schools, and beginning the work to realign the curriculum itself
  • Overseeing the Comprehensive Budget Audit (CAFR) with excellent ratings for the past three years with awards
  • Creating a Department of School, Community and Business Partnerships to increase partnerships and school support
  • Opening a Middle School International Academy at Hammond
  • Creating a Newcomers English Language Learners Program (NELL)
  • Developing and offering the first Summer Learning Opportunities Program in five years
  • Receiving recognition by the College Board for high participation in AP tests given
  • Developing a comprehensive Capital Improvement Program for the modernization of schools
  • Reaching the groundbreaking stage for the new Patrick Henry School
  • Completing the joint City-Schools Long Range Educational Facilities Plan for Elementary, Pre-K and High School
  • Developing a new job applicant tracking and evaluation system
  • Strengthening collaborative relationships with the Education Association of Alexandria (EAA)
  • Launching and utilizing the TELL survey to assess teacher working conditions with dramatic improvements in performance
  • Lowering staff attrition rates from 16% to 13%
  • Implementing a “Governance” process to increase accountability for data monitoring and reporting
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