These posts are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.

If Not Now: 2016 Progress Report: Strategic Plan


Aurora Public Schools’ strategic plan needs a thorough revision. APS 2020 is a simple plan: every student will have a plan for their future, the skills to implement their plan, and credentials that open doors. By zeroing in on workforce readiness, the plan’s measures do not adequately enumerate how improvement will happen.

Having a plan for the future is not a proxy for improving student achievement. By the measures of the strategic plan, an elementary school with no students reading on grade level could be considered a success because 100% of its students have a plan for their future–a hollow victory, it seems. Similarly, the development of 21st century skills is measured by percentage of students passing 3 out of 5 core subjects, which, again is only a meaningful goal if we know that core subject classes are rigorous, providing grade level instruction, and leading to high levels of performance on state standardized tests.

On the other end of the spectrum, the plan projects that by 2020, 100% of APS students will not only graduate, but also have a credential. This is a lofty goal worth aspiring to, but potentially unrealistic given that Aurora’s 2015 on-time graduation rate is 59%, up from 56% in 2014. An ambitious goal for graduation rates has a place in a revised strategic plan–it is a measure of success that students, teachers, families, businesses, and communities can rally behind.

The current strategic plan clearly communicates the value of postsecondary and workforce readiness, but those goals must be complemented by a more robust set of metrics and benchmarks that make it clear to all stakeholders that Aurora’s kids are getting the education they need to be successful.

A strategic plan should communicate clear priorities and expectations to the community so that schools and districts can be held accountable to student achievement outcomes. Aurora could look at strategic plans from districts like Harrison 2 or Denver to see examples of strategic plans that provide a roadmap for improvement with metrics that can directly be related back to student achievement and postsecondary/workforce readiness.

This year, APS has not taken steps to update the goals included in APS 2020. Progress on this recommendation could provide a cornerstone for progress on several of the recommendations including turnaround planning, family and community engagement, serving students with high levels of need, and justifying mill and bond funding.

Find the rest of the blogs here:

Community Engagement
Family-Friendly Rating System
Exemplar New Schools
Serving High-Need Students
Turnaround Schools
Early Childhood Education
Increase Funding