ARLINGTON — Progress was the theme at the fifth annual State of the District address when dozens of Arlington residents gathered to hear Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kristine McDuffy speak at the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center on Thursday, Jan. 31.
McDuffy began by honoring the history of Arlington Public Schools and ended with a look toward the future.
“I’d like to reflect on the past five years,” said McDuffy. “This has been a great journey, but it has also been a difficult one. The economy fell in beneath us as I walked in the door in 2008, but in the past five years we have accomplished more than I could have imagined even in the best of times. It has certainly made us stronger.”
Graduation rates have increased from 65.1 percent in 2008 to 79.6 percent in 2012. Seven Arlington schools received state awards in the past four years and student achievement across all grade levels has increased.
“Our core work is student achievement and we have made great progress,” said McDuffy, who attributed some of that progress to the district’s development and implementation of a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC).
“It is a fabulous document that our staff can log on to and check for their content unit. It doesn’t matter if they are at Post or Haller, all of our teachers can follow the GVC. This has taken us so far. It’s teachers’ work and that is what’s exciting because you can sustain that. We are still building it, but we’ve gone a long way.”
The Washington State Board of Education and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction have collaborated on an assessment system for schools in the state known as the Achievement Index. In the past five years, all but one Arlington school has improved in their AI rating.
McDuffy finished her speech with a nod to the changing landscape of public education, including the implementation of new Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which replaces the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP), and increased graduation requirements.
“There is a lot on the horizon,” said McDuffy. “It takes time, it takes the right tools and it takes talent. Teachers are doing incredible work to examine data and work together to help kids. It’s making a difference.”
“This is hard work but we’ve got this. I can’t be more proud of the team we have here in Arlington.”