Guiding Documents and Resources
School Board Charge
On January 24, the School Board directed ACPS to plan for an expansion of T.C. Williams into a Connected High School Network, they also asked for site concepts, program options and a cost benefit analysis for a second high school buildout. They asked that nine priorities guide the work including making sure programming is administered equitably, there be flexibility for students to change the academic path they choose, an ability for students to take all their courses in one building if they choose too and that there be an intentional focus on special education and the delivery of English language services.
Inspiring a Future for Alexandria
ACPS commissioned a team of experts in architectural and educational design to help our community envision and define our future high school experience. What began as an effort to address capacity issues and growing enrollments, became a vision for a new kind of learning experience that prepares students to be thoughtful and successful citizens in tomorrow’s world. Stakeholders took part in a series of workshops that resulted in Guiding Principles for Learning that are driving the planning effort. The team researched best practices and educational options from high schools around the country to help ACPS make an informed decision. The second document is the result of focus group meetings, visioning sessions and Town Hall meetings with students, teachers, parents, businesses and community leaders.
Long-Range Educational Facilities Plan
The City of Alexandria and ACPS jointly developed the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan (2015, updated 2018) to improve facilities planning, accommodate the growing student population and enhance educational programs and services. As part of the planning process, a work group was established, comprised of members from the community, Alexandria City School Board, City Council, Campagna Center, and the PTA Council, supported by ACPS and City staff. The work group met on a regular basis to explore the major issues impacting public school facilities over the long term and to guide staff in the development of the Plan for consideration by the School Board and City Council.
Grade Level Configuration Feasibility Study
As part of the 2016-17 Capital Improvement Program Budget, the School Board approved funds to conduct a study of grade level configurations to determine whether a reconfiguration at ACPS could provide additional capacity while improving the academic achievement of students. Ultimately, the study concluded that factors such as quality of education and minimizing transitions result in the best educational outcomes; however, the study had two additional findings related to the high school:
- the study found that the split campus model, used by ACPS at Minnie Howard was not the optimal configuration for a high school.
- Comprehensive grades 9-12 high schools are the most prevalent grade level configuration and research on other high school grade spans is limited.
Virginia Profile of a Graduate
Solutions offered through The High School Project need to meet the criteria established by the newly created Virginia Profile of a Graduate. The Profile of a Virginia Graduate describes the knowledge, skills, experiences and attributes that students must attain in order to be successful in college and/or the workforce as well as to be "life ready."
In developing the profile, the Virginia Board of Education determined that a life-ready Virginia graduate must display the following:
- Achieve and apply appropriate academic and technical knowledge (content knowledge);
- Demonstrate productive workplace skills, qualities, and behaviors (workplace skills);
- Build connections and value interactions with others as a responsible and responsive citizen (community engagement and civic responsibility); and
- Align knowledge, skills and personal interests with career opportunities (career exploration).
ACPS is committed to ensuring that every student will meet the criteria identified in the Profile of a Virginia Graduate, as well as creating opportunities for our diverse body of students that go above and beyond these requirements. The High School Project will help establish the ways in which we want to surpass the expectations of the high school experience we want to provide, both in terms of the physical setting and the programmatic opportunities.
Next Generation High Schools
During the Obama Administration, school districts, education experts, states and the federal government came together to rethink how we teach high school students. The White House summits said our next generation of high schools should:
- promote active, hands-on learning aligned with career readiness, personalized learning,
- tailor academic content to student interest and needs;
- offer “high-quality career and college exploration and counseling on options” after graduation;
- provide: multiple opportunities to take college courses in high school;
- consider: project based learning and learning based on acquiring knowledge and skills instead of progressing through grades year-after-year.
Evidence shows providing these opportunities increases student achievement, especially for disadvantaged kids, because they get more rigor, smaller learning environments that they choose, career academies, some college level courses and college and career counseling.
Capital Improvement Program Budget (CIP)
In the Spring of 2017, the City set up an Ad Hoc Joint City-Schools Facilities Investment Task Force to oversee the joint development of the City and Schools facility Capital Improvement Program and make recommendations for future projects and give guidance to the City and ACPS for the next ten years.
Specifically, they were asked to:
- Develop a long range improvement plan with prioritization for nearly 30 buildings/projects in Alexandria and ACPS within the constraints of available funding.
In June 2018, the School Board approved the FY 2019–2028 Capital Improvement Program Budget.
The $474.7 million Capital Improvement Program Budget was approved in a process that has been viewed as an indication of increasing alignment between Alexandria City Council and the School Board. The final approved Capital Improvement Program was largely based on the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Joint City-Schools Facility Investment Task Force.
The City Council approved $5.2 million for a study around high school planning. This includes consultation, feasibility and planning around resolving high school capacity issues. The City Council also approved $30 million to be held in reserve for property acquisition. This may or may not be connected to the high school capacity project.