The Long Range Educational Facilities Plan Work Group's Enrollment Forecasts/Demographics Subcommittee is responsible for developing a student enrollment projection methodology. The cohort survival does not include the number of specific students who remain in Alexandria City Public Schools from year to year.
Former Alexandria School Board member Scott Newsham filed a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request in December, 2013, to obtain information "on the number of students who were enrolled in ACPS last year (2012-13) and remain enrolled this year (2013-14). I request a breakdown of those totals by grade (K-12)."
This was not the first time Newsham asked about this information. "I sent an e-mail to Deputy Superintendent, Planning and Support Operations Margaret Byess in October, 2011, in which I asked her "if ACPS tracks the number of individual students that return from one year to the next (both overall and at the grade level)," Newsham said. "She told me that "This information can be determined from the data in our student information system, although it's not something that we currently use in doing our student projections."
"At the time, I thought this was very shortsighted for a school system that prides itself on data-driven decisionmaking," Newsham said.
Tracking Students Through ACPS
The data Newsham received shows that overall approximately 91% of students in grades K-11 in June, 2013 returning to ACPS this past September.
While the information Newsham received does not allow for tracking individual students through the school system, that data is available through the ACPS student information system. For example, the data shows that 719 students who were in seventh grade returned to ACPS in September. It is not possible to tell how many of those students were advanced or retained.
"Assuming that all 710 of last year's eighth graders who returned in September were advanced to the ninth grade, 20% of this year's freshmen were new to ACPS," Newsham said. "This data is essential for the LREFP work group's forecasting methodology to be as accurate and complete as possible."