Superintendent’s March 8, 2023 Update

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Dear APS Families,

As we approach Spring Break, I will devote my upcoming weekly messages to providing information about student progress at the midyear point and how we are working to meet the needs of all learners.

During last week’s School Board meeting, the Office of English Learners (OEL) presented an update on the English Learner (EL) 5-Year Strategic Action Plan, our services to support English learners at all grade levels, and results of recent testing measuring growth and progress. Nearly 25% of our students are English learners, and we have been focused on increasing resources and academic support to serve their strengths and needs. This remains a key priority for our school division. A few key takeaways from the EL Update:

  • In the annual Spring WIDA (World Class Instructional Design and Assessment) ACCESS assessment for English learners, 54.1 percent demonstrated progress in 2022, up from 39% in 2021. Current year testing is being conducted through March 17, and results will be available in May or June.
  • One area of concern is that while more English learners are making progress, the percentage achieving English language proficiency (ELP) decreased in the same period, from 11.2% in 2021 to 10.2% in 2022.
  • The OEL continues investing in new resources and supports for students at all levels to ensure all English learners are making progress, including:
    • Provided new tools and resources to support elementary oral language development and literacy.
    • Launching Lexia English to support the oral language development of English learners at ELP levels 1 and 2.
    • Leading teams of teachers in developing new curriculum guides to support specialized instruction for English learners accessing Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA). CKLA is a program that combines English language development (ELD) with other subject areas, such as social studies.
    • The offices of English Learners and English Language Arts partnered to strengthen support for middle and high school English learners through co-teaching.
    • Making curriculum revisions for ELD science courses at middle school and planning a new recommended course sequence for English learners in high school science.

View the English Learner Update and learn more about the EL 5-Year Strategic Action Plan.

Additional reminders and updates:

Nominate a Teacher of the Year – Northern Virginia Magazine is looking for its 2023 Teacher of the Year. I am asking for you to nominate an outstanding APS teacher who deserves this award. The Teacher of the Year will be awarded $10,000 and profiled in an edition of Northern Virginia Magazine. The nomination window closes on April 14. Last year, the talented Ani Arzoomanian, a third grade teacher at Tuckahoe Elementary, was recognized for her hard work and dedication to APS and our students. We hope to have another winner this year!  

Recognizing our APS Social Workers – This is National Social Work Week, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our outstanding social workers across the division. At APS, school social workers are tireless advocates for the needs of our community. Please take a moment this week to thank a social worker. Watch this video featuring social workers to learn more about what they do for our students.

Today is International Women’s Day – On this International Women’s Day, we celebrate the incredible achievements and contributions of women around the world. From teachers to scientists, women have broken barriers and paved the way for progress in countless fields. This year, through the theme #EmbraceEquity, we honor the resilience, strength and ingenuity of women everywhere, and we reaffirm our commitment to advancing gender equality in all areas of life. Let us support one another and work together towards a more just and equitable world for all.

Enjoy the rest of the week.


Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools