The Andover Public Schools’ 2011-2016 Strategic Plan was devised by hundreds of staff and community members. Since being approved by the Andover School Committee in November 2011, this plan has set the direction for the school district. As the five-year period draws to a close, we can look back with pride on the district’s progress and accomplishments. Thanks to the forethought of the plan’s designers, the commitment of its supporters, and the dedication of its implementers, the school system now has in place the curricular, technological, and professional development infrastructure that will enable it to make significant additional strides in the coming years.
A detailed report on the status of the plan’s objectives can be found on the APS website.
Here are some of the more far-reaching achievements of the past five years.
1. To ensure that students are engaged with the most current and relevant curriculum, we established leadership positions in core subject areas and have updated and enhanced the K-12 curricula in math, science, and writing. Particular attention to innovative ideas and processes has taken root through the creation of project-based learning spaces, along with innovation teams in every school. Several student products have already received statewide attention. Meanwhile, the district initiated new approaches in regular and special education to support the learning needs of individual students.
2. This curricular work has been bolstered by deepening staff members’ skills through professional development. In addition, we increased accountability by implementing the new teacher and administrator evaluation model.
3. Thanks to a joint effort with the town, APS increased staff and student productivity by upgrading and modernizing our technology infrastructure. We launched a 1:1 student-to-computer initiative and are increasingly blending technology into traditional classroom practice. Again, professional development has been critical to the effective application of technology by students and staff.
4. Technology also enabled us to establish a reliable network for communicating with parents and community. New software applications produced administrative efficiencies and enhanced the clarity and transparency of financial reports. We are grateful to the town for partnering with us in an innovative and cost-effective manner to share staff in technology, human resources, and facilities.
5. The impact of the 2011-2016 Strategic Plan is evidenced by students’ consistently high achievement in the areas of SAT scores, graduation rates, college enrollment rates and success in post-secondary education. These achievements came even as we supported the growing language diversity of our student body and coped with the fiscal constraints of a lengthy recession.
While these accomplishments are notable, the work is far from over. We need to pursue additional curriculum renewal in the areas of reading, English language arts, and social studies, and continue our technology-based learning initiatives. We need to move forward with the new high school schedule and strengthen our use of data to improve teaching and learning. Above all, we need to expand our communication with parents and the community so you can be more fully aware of and engaged in your schools.
Finally, we want to emphasize that a strategic plan is not a wish list; rather, it reflects the need to grow and improve our schools in a manner consistent with the high expectations of the Andover community. We can all be proud of what has been accomplished and of everyone’s deep commitment to continuing the district’s improvement efforts. We thank the parents, staff and community of Andover for your ongoing support of our outstanding students and we look forward to working with you as we move ahead.
Berman writes a column every other month about what’s going on in the schools.