DATE: January 9, 2017
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
PHONE: 434-972-4049

Community Meeting on January 17 at Monticello High School Will Help Decide How High School Studies Will Change Beginning in 2018

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Beginning with the freshmen class of 2018, the high school experience for Albemarle County Public Schools students will look and feel different from today’s program of studies. In accordance with new state legislation signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe this past year, the state Board of Education has recommended that a new Applied Knowledge and Skills Competency be part of the Commonwealth’s high school diploma requirements for all students who will graduate in 2022 and later.

A community conversation about how high school instruction will be redesigned in the county will take place at 6:30 on Tuesday evening, January 17, at Monticello High School. Those who attend the meeting will hear about the school division’s work so far to redesign high school and view the film Most Likely to Succeed to see a powerful example of how teaching and learning can promote greater engagement and life-relevant experiences for students. During the intermission, participants will have opportunities for discussion and sharing their own ideas and suggestions about how high school studies should change.

The state legislation set forth a series of guidelines for the Board of Education and for school divisions to incorporate in their redesign. They include:

  • The identification of knowledge and skills that students should attain during high school, with an emphasis on the “5 Cs”—critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship;
  • A focus on the development of core skill sets in the early years of high school; and
  • The establishment of multiple paths toward college and career readiness, which could include internships, externships and credentialing.

The requirement for high school students to earn an Applied Knowledge and Skills Competency in order to graduate would first impact freshmen for the 2018-19 school year—students who currently are enrolled in the seventh grade today.

“We are highly enthusiastic about the potential these changes have for our students after graduation,” said Dr. Matthew Haas, the school division’s deputy superintendent. “All the research shows that hands-on, project-based learning equips students with skills that align with college and career success—skills such as being able to think analytically and creatively and being able to work in teams to solve problems,” he added.

The state Board of Education is recommending that every student’s academic plan be initiated in middle school and include work-based experiences, internships, independent studies, student projects, civic engagement, and other experiences designed to demonstrate applied knowledge and learning. Students would earn the Applied Knowledge and Skills Competency by accumulating credentials in content knowledge, career pathways, community engagement, and workplace skills.

At the January 17 meeting, Dr. Haas said a good place to start is to ask members of the community about the skills they believe will be most important to lifelong success and to offer ideas on changes to existing programs or ideas for new programs. Input from the community on how best to partner with organizations on internship opportunities also will be very important to the success of Albemarle County’s new approach, he said.

The county’s planning process for Profile of a Virginia Graduate has three steps: (1) a visioning or concept phase that includes community meetings and a recommendation to the Albemarle County School Board for their approval; (2) a facility planning study to determine infrastructure requirements; and (3) a facility request that will be finalized and submitted to the Board of Supervisors in the spring of 2018.

Among the issues under review will be the facility resource challenges at Albemarle High School, which currently has 1,987 students enrolled, 308 students over the building’s capacity. Projections show that this capacity deficit will continue to expand for at least another seven years if no actions are taken by the School Board and the Board of Supervisors. Among the options that will be considered as part of the facility planning study are renovations to an existing high school, an addition, or a new building.

###