What is SPARK Plug?

  • At Virginia-Highland we recognize that the 2020.21 school year was a tough one.  As we navigate through a pandemic and remote learning, we understand that learning loss may have happened for a number of our students.  VAHI Times is our answer to plugging up those gaps.  VAHI Times is an Enrichment & Intervention block that happens for 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week.  Using a universal screener (MAP), VAHI will identify students who are in need of academic intervention supports and academic enrichment opportunities.  All VAHI students will participate in VAHI Times to provide them with personalized learning opportunities in the areas of Reading and Math.  

The Why

    • As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that our students have experienced unfinished learning as we transitioned to virtual learning back in March 2020.
    • We also know that our students have experienced some levels of learning loss over the 2020-2021 school year. 
    • Even prior to the pandemic, research suggests that at the current rate of growth, it would take 128 years to close the opportunity gaps that currently exist in our system. This, coupled with the imperatives stated above, has created a greater sense of urgency to act immediately to close these gaps. 
    • In keeping the success of all of our students at the forefront, APS is implementing a three-year academic recovery plan that includes a required school-based intervention block over the 2021-2022, 2022-2023, and 2023-2024 school year (effectively June 2021 - May 2024). 
    • Most recently, our focus on academic intervention during the pandemic began when we brought our special needs and early learners in first for face-to-face learning in October 2020 to ensure we met their needs.
    • In Atlanta Public Schools (APS), all means all. When we say all means all, we mean the success of all students. 
    • As part of our three-year Academic Recovery Plan, all schools are required to implement academic or enrichment blocks to support student success. 
    • Historically, the district has implemented extended day schedules (30 additional minutes) to accommodate the needs of students at various schools, including Morningside and Springdale Park Elementary schools. 
    • We know this decision brings about a change for many of our families, but in making this decision we engaged with GO Teams, parents of students with disabilities, APS staff, our various advisories and task forces, our Equity Design Team, our school principals, and the broader APS community through our virtual town hall and survey.

The What

    • Approximately, 26,165 K-12 students were identified as eligible for academic intervention across the district. 


    • Our Academic Recovery Plan is inclusive of three components:
      • 1. A new K-12 universal screener to help identify our students’ learning needs. All K-12 students will be administered the universal screener in English Language Arts and Math. 
      • 2. Our Summer Academic Recovery Academy (ARA), which has enrolled over 11,000 students districtwide.
      • 3. Implementation of a required school-based intervention or enrichment block, class, or course in all schools.
        • If your child has not been identified to participate in intervention, your child will participate in an enrichment block during this time. 

    This district’s Academic Recovery Plan is aligned with the requirements of The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund

      1. This federal funding requires school districts to reserve no less than 20 percent of their total allocation to address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions. These interventions include programs such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive after-school programs, or extended school year programs. These interventions must respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student subgroups.

The How

  • The district heard the voice of the community and with your engagement, the district has finalized the change to the school bell schedule. The schedule will be as follows:

    • Elementary School 7:45 am to 2:45 pm (changed from 8 am to 2:30 pm)
    • High School 8:45 am to 3:45 pm (changed from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm)
    • Middle School 9:15 am to 4:15 pm (changed from 9:05 am to 4:05 pm)

    In reaching this decision, APS engaged with GO Teams, parents of students with disabilities, APS staff, various advisory councils and task forces, our internal Equity Design Team, partners, our school principals, and the broader APS community through our virtual town hall and bell schedule survey. Click here to see the survey results.  

    • As in previous years, transportation schedules, including bus pick-up and drop-off times, will be communicated directly to families before the start of the new school year. Prior to the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, that information will be available online at https://www.atlantapublicschools.us/domain/11771.
    • Atlanta Public Schools Transportation Department has been successful in managing transportation for high school athletics, including for schools like North Atlanta High School, whose bell schedule has been 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. for the past seven years. With this change in the bell schedule for all high schools (8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.), we don’t foresee any impediments to getting our athletes to their competition destinations on time. We will work collaboratively with our Athletics Department and schools to encourage coaches to ensure teams are prepared and ready for departure at their scheduled times. We remain committed to the success of our athletic programs and will make the necessary adjustments if needed.