APS creates new office for alternative learning

Posted at: 01/21/2014 6:05 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

This month, the Albuquerque Public Schools district is working to provide more alternative learning methods for students. They’ve even created a whole new office dedicated to it, called the Office of Innovation.

For APS families, the office will essentially mean more choices for where to send kids to school, and some new teaching methods in traditional classrooms.

“Whether it's a smaller school setting that's more personalized and more friendly for families or creating a shook that has a particular theme, such as a magnet school that can better meet the needs of our families and students,” Office of Innovation Executive Director Katarina Sandoval said.

The office will expand and attract more students to current schools of choice like magnet school Next+Gen Academy. They’ll be coming up with new schools of choice too. These are for families that think their student could perform better in a smaller classroom setting with alternative teaching methods, but unlike charter or private schools, they’re run through the district. That means the district still gets state funding for the students, and the students still get district-wide opportunities like extracurriculars.

In the past, some families who wanted alternative teaching methods were going elsewhere, but APS wants to be able to meet their needs on its own.

“Looking at how we can do things in a way that's more competitive. This year APS lost 700 students in enrollment which amounts to about four million for the district,” Sandoval said. “So we realize we've got to be better, we've got to look for new ways to serve the needs of our families.”

The office will also develop ways to implement unique teaching methods into regular classrooms. The district has already seen success raising graduation rates with alternative programs like AVID. It will expand on those as well, focusing on finding a place to help every student perform to their full potential, while staying part of the district.