State of the Division

Through the annual State of the Division report, Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) provides information to the school board and the community about our successes and challenges from the previous school year. The report serves as an accountability tool, whereby the school division seeks to track our progress toward meeting our goals and to identify and improve our weaknesses. The report also informs our decision-making, whether we are evaluating an instructional method, shaping a systemic practice, or considering budget priorities.

Each year, ACPS shares the State of the Division report as another opportunity to engage our stakeholders, including our students and their families, our employees, and our community members. We consider stakeholder feedback to be an essential part of the continuous improvement process, and we encourage community members to contribute to our ongoing efforts to learn, adapt and grow through participation in school board meetings, community meetings, and online surveys.

State of the Division 2021

Looking Forward: Turning Newly Developed Capabilities Into Higher Levels of Student Engagement & Learning

student wearing mask and working on art project at desk
two students wearing masks outside and preparing to plant flowers
students wearing masks in class while listening to teacher

Exactly 100 years ago, a new president of the United States was elected as our nation was beginning to exit a worldwide pandemic that claimed the lives of nearly 700,000 people. Coupled with the end of the “Great War to End All Wars,” our nation was desperate for recovery and renewal. The nearly universal desire to return to normalcy was so widely embraced that these very words became the theme of Warren G. Harding’s successful election campaign for the presidency.

In 2021-22, in the midst of yet another global pandemic, our communities again looked for reassurance and optimism, and they looked to the one institution that long has been the source of prosperity and growth in the United States—our public schools.

A year ago, this annual report was titled, “A Year Unlike Any Other,” describing the unprecedented disruption brought into our schools by another worldwide pandemic, introducing challenges so sweeping that they reached deeply into our homes and workplaces. Our parents, our teachers, our classified staff, and our students, were all called upon to manage through learning environments and family lives that were volatile, stressful, and anything but normal.

The educational impacts of such a difficult year are captured in this State of the Division 2021 report. Students and their families, our staff, and our institutions, including our schools, still are struggling to cope with the disruptions that were introduced into our daily lives.

In our division, the response in 2019-20 of parents, students, teachers, and support staff was heroic and revealed just how necessary and powerful the contributions of our public schools are to the well-being of our communities.

Looking back, the past school year put into place the foundation that made it possible to safely return more than 13,000 students to our schools this year. It also spawned new capabilities to fulfill a strategic plan promising Learning for All. These included a new virtual school, expanded summer learning opportunities, first-time community program partnerships, additional social and emotional learning coaches in every school, and health protection measures that will continue to promote wellness beyond the pandemic.

There were important areas in which our students exceeded what once had been normal. On-time graduation rates, college readiness and SAT scores, reduced class sizes, greater investments in resources to close opportunity gaps, an increase in our social and emotional learning services, and a more diverse faculty all signaled longer-term improvements beyond 2019-20.

While any report that looks back can tell you the path you traveled and your current location, its greater value, especially for a continuous improvement organization, is how it is used to redefine expectations to a higher standard. What was normal prior to the pandemic no longer is sufficient.

For Albemarle County Public Schools, the past year tells us that we have much work to do in deepening the academic progress of our students as measured in the state’s required Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. Especially in elementary school reading and math in our secondary schools, we need to set and achieve higher levels of excellence for all students.

The same is true in meeting our strategic plan commitment to equity by knowing every student. One encouraging sign that postdated the completion of this report is that the number of teachers who are pursuing culturally responsive teaching credentials in the coming year is nearly double the number of teachers who have earned these credentials since the program’s inception in 2016.

This past year also saw some impressive gains with regard to the engagement of our community with the school division, in both the numbers and the diversity. Participation in virtual school board meetings at times involved more than 1,000 people, and the pandemic itself increased the number of times we surveyed families and students for their opinions. I want to especially acknowledge those community and staff volunteers who have offered their wisdom to decisions on the budget, redistricting, school naming reviews, our strategic and long-range plans, and the numerous online surveys that influenced operations.

Family and community engagement lead to more informed and inclusive decisions and, as a newly-enacted school division value, should be a metric added to future state of the division reports. While increased numbers and diversity of voices are important, we also should continue to strive to invite our students, employees, families, and community members to offer their thoughts and wisdom on issues at the ground floor of their development.

As superintendent, it has been a personal requirement of mine to visit at least one school in our division each week. My time is devoted to focusing on classroom instruction with an eye toward continuous improvement of our students’ learning experiences and the results of those experiences. For me, it’s been a reaffirmation of what makes the performance of our schools so important to our families, our businesses, our civic life, and our future: Schools are the place where ambitions come to fruition, and it is the responsibility of every one of us to ensure that happens.

Signature Matthew S. Haas

Dr. Matthew S. Haas
Superintendent of Schools

Keep Reading: Open the full State of the Division 2021 report »

Report Archive

State of the Division 2021 (web page)

State of the Division 2020 (PDF)

State of the Division 2019 (PDF)

State of the Division 2018 (Presentation to the School Board; PDF)

State of the Division 2017 (web page)

State of the Division 2016 (web page)

State of the Division 2015 (web page)

State of the Division 2014 (PDF)

State of the Division 2013 (PDF)

State of the Division 2012 (PDF)

State of the Division 2011 (PDF)​​

Virginia School Quality Profiles​​

For every school division and school in the Commonwealth, the Virginia Department of Education provides a School Quality Profile containing information about student achievement, college and career readiness, program completion, school safety, teacher quality, and other topics of interest to parents and the general public.

View the division-level School Quality Profile for Albemarle County Public Schools »

Access the school-based School Quality Profiles for Albemarle County Public Schools »