Port City Notebook

News, views and random observations around Alexandria


What Percentage of T.C. Williams Students Earn a Diploma?

According to recent data from the Virginia Department of Education, 86% of T.C.’s Class of 2013 graduated on time, compared with 82% last year and 77% five years ago. The state average, which is now 89%, has also increased over the past five years, but by a smaller margin. The most noteworthy aspect of the data that were released last week is the improvement in T.C. graduation rates among subgroups […]

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What Should I Know About AVID?

AVID (short for Advancement Via Individual Determination) is an elective course in Alexandria schools for grades 7 through 12 that equips students (most of whom will be the first in their families to go to college) with important college readiness skills. AVID serves more than 425,000 students in 48 states and 16 countries. The 30-year-old program was introduced to ACPS about four years ago, and roughly 375 students are currently […]

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What’s Next for ACPS?

A month has passed since the school board ousted Mort Sherman as superintendent. What now? The good news is that our students haven’t suffered any disruptions. Acting Superintendent Margee Walsh is managing our school division effectively during this period of transition, and progress is being made on some important issues under her direction. The bad news is that the window for hiring a permanent new leader for our school division […]

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How are the New Elementary Progress Reports Different from the Old Report Cards?

The most obvious difference that you’ll see is that students in grades 3 through 5 will no longer receive “A” through “F” letter grades and younger children will no longer have the excellent/good/satisfactory/unsatisfactory scale. Instead, they will earn a score from 1 to 4 that indicates the progress that they have made during that quarter toward meeting certain benchmarks based on their individual instructional level—in other words, a score based […]

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Who Are Our ACPS Students?

Most Alexandrians are aware in a general way that our student population is diverse, but what does that mean exactly? There are about 13,500 students currently enrolled in ACPS (the precise number will be available in early October). Our students come from 128 countries of birth and speak 80 different languages.  My daughters have classmates from all corners of the world including Pakistan, Morocco, Honduras, and Somalia. One of their […]

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Which School Calendar is Correct? (And Other Useful Stuff)

Unfortunately, the nice shiny full-color calendar that came in the welcome packets contains several mistakes, including these omissions for dates that are coming up this fall: Monday, October 14, Columbus Day, is a student holiday/professional day for traditional calendar schools Tuesday, November 5, Election Day, is a delayed opening The ACPS Communications office is working on a flyer to go home that indicates the additional days off and a few […]

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What’s Happening with Middle-School Honors Language Arts?

In recent years, middle-school parents have voiced dissatisfaction with the honors language arts classes in our middle schools. The complaint, in a nutshell: not enough writing and not enough challenging reading outside of class. “The people spoke and we listened,” wrote GWMS 1 language arts department chair Claire Given in an email to me last week. On Thursday, August 29, all ACPS middle-school language arts teachers attended a day-long workshop […]

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