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APS Monitoring Students’ Life Skills and Emotional Well-Being

Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) Board of Education is continuing to monitor progress towards the district’s goals and guardrails which were set as part of the district’s Emerging Stronger strategic plan. The board recently reviewed the progress of Goal 4, which aims to improve student skills, habits, and mindsets that are best aligned to life success.

The board’s work has been ongoing, aimed at improving student proficiencies in literacy, math, and student readiness for life after high school.

Much of the detailed conversation at the May 15 board of education meeting focused on broader strategies and the general implementation of Goal 4. This meeting included dialogue with current APS students about how they are impacted by these goals and guardrails.

This initiative is part of the district’s broader strategy to prepare students for life beyond the classroom, recognizing the importance of these “soft skills” in personal and professional success.

Understanding Goal 4

APS has specified Goal 4 as increasing the percentage of students demonstrating key life skills from baseline figures established in 2023 to target levels by 2028.

Goal 4 reads:

Increase the percentage of students who demonstrate the skills, habits, and mindsets most aligned to life success: perseverance, self-regulation, self-efficacy, and social awareness as measured by an evidence-based and aligned tool from: 

  • Perseverance: 51 percent in 2023 to 61 percent in 2028
  • Self-Regulation: 65 percent in 2023 to 75 percent in 2028
  • Self-Efficacy: 44 percent in 2023 to 54 percent in 2028
  • Social Awareness: 58 percent in 2023 to 68 percent in 2028

Albuquerque Public Schools has established specific interim goals to track the progression towards achieving Goal 4. These interim milestones are designed for different grade levels, reflecting what Board President Danielle Gonzales called a “Student Outcomes Focused” approach to the development of life skills, from elementary to high school.

Goal 4 targets are monitored through the APS Skills, Habits, and Mindsets Student Survey, which assesses students’ feelings about their school environment and their approaches to challenges biannually. The APS monitoring report uses student data from the final survey students took this school year.

The results of the survey are available here.

Interim Guardrail 4.1: Fifth-Grade Students

For fifth-grade students, the focus is on enhancing the early development of key skills. The targets are set as follows:

  • Perseverance: Increase from 54 percent in 2023 to 60 percent by 2026.
  • Self-Regulation: Increase from 66 percent in 2023 to 72 percent by 2026.
  • Self-Efficacy: Increase from 51 percent in 2023 to 57 percent by 2026.
  • Social Awareness: Increase from 63 percent in 2023 to 69 percent by 2026.

The district reported a modest increase in perseverance from 54 percent to 55 percent, while self-regulation saw a slight rise from 66 percent to 67 percent. Self-efficacy improved from 51 percent to 52 percent, and social awareness grew from 63 percent to 64 percent.

Interim Guardrail 4.2: Eighth-Grade Students

For eighth-grade students, the guardrails are designed to solidify skills as students prepare for high school:

  • Perseverance: Increase from 47 percent in 2023 to 53 percent by 2026.
  • Self-Regulation: Increase from 62 percent in 2023 to 68 percent by 2026.
  • Self-Efficacy: Increase from 37 percent in 2023 to 43 percent by 2026.
  • Social Awareness: Increase from 50 percent in 2023 to 56 percent by 2026.

The most recent survey showed that perseverance increased from 47 percent to 49 percent, and self-regulation rose from 62 percent to 64 percent. Self-efficacy showed a significant improvement from 37 percent to 40 percent, and social awareness climbed from 50 percent to 52 percent.

Interim Guardrail 4.3: Tenth-Grade Students

By tenth grade, the focus shifts slightly towards preparing students for the final years of high school and beyond:

  • Perseverance: Increase from 49 percent in 2023 to 55 percent by 2026.
  • Self-Regulation: Increase from 67 percent in 2023 to 73 percent by 2026.
  • Self-Efficacy: Increase from 34 percent in 2023 to 40 percent by 2026.
  • Social Awareness: Increase from 54 percent in 2023 to 60 percent by 2026.

In the most recent survey, the district saw perseverance increase from 49 percent to 51 percent, with self-regulation improving from 67 percent to 69 percent. Self-efficacy saw a notable rise from 34 percent to 38 percent, and social awareness grew from 54 percent to 56 percent.

APS Chief of Schools Channell Segura said, “[Goal 4] increases time and access to accelerate attainment of those skills that students might have gaps in. Ensuring every student has an advocate is key to personalizing support and reinforcing these essential life skills.”

Working with Students

Albuquerque High School students who served as board interns presented their findings on how their peers perceive the APS surveys used to monitor progress toward Goal 4. Their feedback revealed critical insights and sparked a lively dialogue between the students and board members.

Gonzales said that APS recognizes these students do not make up the whole student body, and “this is just the beginning” of a process where the board will be including student voice in their decisions.

Gonzales introduced Elise Miller, McCarly Trigg, Lyla Lawrence, and Ada Applegate, all juniors at AHS.

The interns explained that many students see these surveys as just another school obligation, resulting in rushed and disengaged participation. The board worried this could compromise the reliability of data collected, as hurried responses do not accurately reflect students’ true experiences or feelings.

Applegate told the board, “There’s a lack of understanding about the survey’s purpose, which causes many students to complete it hastily without much thought.”

The students conducted discussions with their peers at Albuquerque High School and found that the majority of students were unaware of the survey’s significance. They discovered that the advisory class period, during which the surveys are administered, is not well attended or taken seriously. Many students admitted to completing the survey as quickly as possible without reflecting on the questions.

Lawrence said, “We found that students didn’t remember taking the survey or, if they did, they didn’t understand why it was important.”

Board members tried to understand these challenges and sought the students’ suggestions for improvement. The interns proposed several strategies to enhance engagement:

  • Clear Communication: Providing students with a clear explanation of the survey’s purpose and how the results would be used to improve their school experience.
  • Interactive Elements: Incorporating survey questions into group discussions or classroom activities to encourage thoughtful consideration and meaningful responses.
  • Incentives and Engagement: Offering small rewards or recognitions for completing the survey sincerely and making the process more engaging.

During the discussion, board member Courtney Jackson expressed a need for better communication, saying, “We need to ensure that both students and teachers understand why these surveys matter and how the data will be used.”

The interns also suggested creating a video to explain the survey’s purpose and potential impact. “If students understand that their input can lead to real changes in their school environment, they might take the surveys more seriously,” Miller said.

The high school interns also addressed the idea of having a student board member during their presentation. They found that many students were initially confused about the need for such a position, believing that existing board members should already be representing their voices. However, once they understood the potential impact of a dedicated student representative, there was significant interest and support for the idea.

McCarley suggested, “Having a student board member could bridge the gap between students and the board, ensuring that our perspectives are heard more clearly.”

The board members expressed gratitude for the students’ candid feedback and acknowledged the importance of involving students in the process. They agreed that making the surveys more interactive and relevant could help students see the value in thoughtful participation.

Next Steps

APS plans to enhance the professional development of teachers and administrators to better support the intentional teaching of these skills.

Incoming Superintendent Dr. Gabriella Blakey expressed the need for intentionality, saying, “Goal four needs a lot more intentionality. Schools need to be clear about how these skills are taught and measured in the classroom.”

The board will pause progress monitoring for Goal 4 over the next few months to allow for adjustments to the interim goals by the new Superintendent. Monitoring will resume with updates and recalibrated targets to ensure alignment with the strategic plan and academic calendar.

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for June 5 at 5 PM, with a special meeting on May 29 at 5 PM to approve the budget. All meetings are held at the Alice and Bruce King Educational Complex and are live-streamed on YouTube.