A Message from the Chief Academic Officer

From the Desk of John Youngquist, CAO

January 2016

Dear APS Staff and Community,

As we have moved into our second semester of the school year, there is a great focus on resource and strategic budget design. That we are reflecting on our values and investments as a school district is vital and will allow us to sustain the progress that our students are making due to your teaching and leadership efforts in our classrooms and our communities. 

Strengthening and sustaining student growth takes all of us, with a special and important emphasis on the work of teaching and learning in the classroom. 

I have had the opportunity to visit over 200 classrooms so far this year and I am seeing more and more of our students cognitively engaged in their learning experiences as a result of the investments in planning being made by their teachers.

These excellent efforts align with our equity-based understanding that “We must design engaging learning experiences for our students.”   This requires us to:  

  1. Own a strong understanding of every student’s assets, needs and interests
  2. Start with the Colorado Academic Standards, emphasizing 21st Century Skills
  3. Inform learning targets with formative and interim assessment outcomes
  4. Use and stay connected to base resources and planning guides as a “base”
  5. Apply the best practices represented in the Instructional Models and use well-chosen instructional resources to go beyond the “base”  

As you are aware, in the Division of Equity and Learning we are constantly asking for input and responding to the interests that teachers and school leaders express related to their learning and that of our students.  Here are a few of the actions that we are currently taking to support you and your students: 

  1. Recommending new base math curricular resources to the APS Board of Education to ensure that our resources support our students’ need to excel
  2. Starting a partnership with the Smithsonian Institute to learn new strategies and apply new resources for K-8 Science
  3. Creating and providing “Exit Criteria” for each content area and grade level, providing access to standards-based “ends in mind” for every content at every grade-level
  4. Improving our Interim Assessment Systems to ensure that you have the right data to inform the design of engaging learning experiences
  5. Growing Teacher Leadership to develop and value teacher leaders as a powerful asset in our schools 

This last action, Growing Teacher Leadership, represents a significant value that we will be engaging district-wide over the course of the next three years.  Recently, we have been working with the national non-profit, “Leading Educators,” in order to reflect on our current status with teacher leadership and develop a district-wide plan for extending teacher leadership. 

We know that our students thrive when teacher leadership is a significant priority and we will soon be asking for up to ten schools to be the first to implement high-quality Teacher Leadership strategies during the 2017-18 school  year.  If you are currently viewed as, or you aspire to be known as, a “teacher leader,” opportunities to be recognized, valued and developed in this role are being developed in order to support you and appreciate the value in your leadership actions.   

As always, please, call or e-mail me with your concerns, ideas, and interests.  I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you soon.

All the best,

John Youngquist
APS Chief Academic Officer

Need resources and supports for designing engaging learning experiences? 


My Job is to accelerate the learning of every APS student. I do my job by ensuring our learning experiences are challenging, engaging and propel every young person to a successful future. My community needs me to do my job.

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