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ACPS Superintendent Hutchings focuses on racial equity in first-ever ‘State Of The Schools’ speech

Hours before President Biden made his first State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., gave the first-ever State Of The Schools address.

The hour-long presentation at Alexandria City High School focused on new programs to offer free associate degrees to Alexandria City High School graduates, improving graduation rates for Hispanic males and sticking to the ACPS 2025 Equity For All Strategic Plan. The speech did not focus on more controversial issues, such as Covid-related mandates or public safety issues within the school system.

“Our strategic plan takes us through 2025 and I know it sounds like it’s far away, but we’re already in 2022,” Hutchings said. “And we will still have much to accomplish to fulfill all of these accomplishments.”

Hutchings said ACPS is being liberal in its approach to absenteeism during the pandemic.

“Some of our students are really being faced with a lot of trauma,” Hutching said. “It is our responsibility to make sure that we are providing the social and emotional supports for our students. And we’re doing that through our counseling services within our buildings. So, we’re going to continue to have social workers working with our families. We will continue to do school visits, and our administrative teams and staff will continue working with families who are experiencing truancy.”

By 2024, Alexandria City Public Schools will begin offering a “cradle-to-career” program to Alexandria City High School freshmen, where they will take specific dual enrollment courses to earn a free associate’s degree from Northern Virginia Community College by the time they graduate. The program is being done in partnership with NOVA, George Mason University and Virginia Tech. Hutchings said that the associate’s degree pathways under consideration include information technology, psychology, business information technology, engineering, biology, and education.

“This results in a NOVA associate’s degree that will not only be given when they graduate from Alexandria City High School, but it will align for full transferability to both partnering four-year universities, and that’s George Mason University and Virginia Tech,” Hutchings said.

Hutchings said that the beginning of this school year was unusual and challenging. Without getting specific, he said ACPS needs to make progress on improving graduation rates for Hispanic males and said that a division-wide early warning indicator system is in the second phase of development.

The system “utilizes key performance indicators to proactively engage intervention for students placed at risk of experiencing poor academic outcomes,” Hutchings said.

Hutchings also announced that ACPS will also release its second Equity For All Climate Survey to families, staff, and students in grades 6-12 on March 11.

“We have made progress and yet are mindful that it’s there’s still much work to be done,” he said. “Our team and our students have shown great resilience throughout the past two years and I am encouraged by the progress that we’ve made so far to dismantle some of our racial inequities and to meet the individual needs of our students.”

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