APS BOE Message About Focus on Student Outcomes and Upcoming Changes

Dear APS Staff,

The Board of Education thanks each of you for your time, dedication, and personal commitment to the students of the Aurora Public Schools.

As you may have heard, the Board of Education is receiving governance coaching and conducting routine self evaluations as part of our desire for continuous improvement. We began this process in early January 2020 because we want to strengthen our focus on improving student outcomes. To focus more, however, we need to redesign some of our work.

The next step in becoming more intensely focused on improving student outcomes as a Board is to clearly articulate which outcomes for students we expect to see improve the most over the next five years. We will accomplish this by upgrading our current policies to define specific, student-focused Results and Limitations. Over the last few years, APS has experienced momentum in many areas and we know it is time to set ambitious SMART goals which help us drive and monitor success for our students.  While there are many priorities to address and that you as staff will individually continue to work on, in the Board meetings, we will focus on three key areas that will help propel broader success for all of our students: Early Literacy, Post-Secondary Workforce Readiness (PWR), and Equity. 

In pursuit of this increased focus on improving student outcomes, there are a few changes you should expect to begin seeing in January. First, the Board will restructure our meetings to have a specific focus on student outcomes and the agenda will be more targeted. Next, the Board will change to having regular business meetings just the third Tuesday of each month (we understand that there are special circumstances that may require additional meetings outside of the regular meeting). Then, to make that change work, Board Directors will be asked to review materials at least fourteen days prior to meetings, and submit questions and inquiries no later than five days prior to the regular meeting. This means staff will need to have all materials for consideration at Board meetings submitted to the Board at least two weeks prior to the Board meeting. And to help ease that challenge, the Board will adopt an updated Board meeting calendar that describes, month by month, the key student performance areas in our Results policies that staff will be expected to report on for the next five years — providing ample lead time for staff to prepare. Hopefully you are beginning to see what we mean by becoming more focused on improving student outcomes.

The Board can’t create revised Results and Limitation policies on its own. So another change you should expect to see is the Board leading community listening and engagement sessions. During these sessions we will listen for the community’s vision and values and use those to rewrite our Results and Limitations policies, which will drive the work of APS over the next five years. We will also lead annual workshops for students, families, staff, or community members who want to learn more about our increased focus and how it benefits students.

More focused board meetings, fewer board meetings, updated policies, revised processes, more listening opportunities, more community learning opportunities, quarterly self evaluations, and more. While these changes are necessary, we understand that some aspects of the transition may be hard. To honor this reality, the Board will be flexible for the first few months while shifting our meetings; this will be a learning experience for all of us. We truly value all of the hard work and effort that you put into delivering quality information to the Board and a quality education to our students. We are in this together. Please feel free to share any questions and/or concerns that you may have with the Board.

Again, thank you for all that you do to improve outcomes for our APS students!

Kyla Armstrong-Romero, Ph.D.
Aurora Public Schools Board of Education