Opinion: Letter to the Editor: What About Drew Model?

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: What About Drew Model?

How long will the Nauck community and the children of the Drew Model Program suffer from a failing school? In 2017, Drew Model Elementary ranked worse than 55.3 percent of elementary schools in Virginia. It also ranked 16th among 22 ranked elementary schools in the Arlington County Public Schools District.

This school is rated below average in school quality compared to other schools in the state. Students here perform below average on state tests, are making about average year-over-year academic improvement, and this school has below average results in how well it’s serving disadvantaged students.

Disadvantaged students at this school are falling far behind other students in the state, Drew has a large achievement gap. Test scores are inflated, you can’t really see what is happening at Drew because the data published is not aggregated by programs at Drew.

Drew has the Model Program and the Montessori Program. In 2019 our neighborhood will be left with the Model Program only. As the president of the Nauck Civic Association I am appalled at the latest decision made by the superintendent. In February of 2017 the Nauck Civic Association and the Drew PTA requested that principals be identified for both programs immediately. On Dec. 7, the announcement was made that the principal for the Montessori Program would be Ms. Catherina Genove. She has been the principal for the last two years, prior to that she served as the assistant principal. She entered APS in 2012, with a background in Montessori.

In October 2017 the Montessori Work Group was established to:

  • Determine potential opportunities for incorporating differing grade levels in the program at Patrick Henry Elementary School.

  • Examine available research about instructional impact of combining differing grade levels at the school.

  • Obtain input from the community about various possibilities.

The only thing that has been done with the community of the Drew Model program is a Visioning Process to select the STEAM focus that was implemented in 2017. Now we are training staff on STEAM and have not even selected an administrator.

It appears that the superintendent and the School Board have a total disregard for what is happening to our neighborhood children.

Superintendent Murphy has once again taken a very dismissive and demeaning approach to the Nauck community. Give the Montessori/AMAC parents what they want and ignore the action for the Drew Model Program.


  • In the last six years the graded program has been failing but APS only reports the data combined with the Montessori Program.

  • Drew has had five principals in four years attempting to run two programs in one building.

  • The aggregated data for the two programs shows that the Drew Model Program is failing without the Montessori Program.


  • APS has addressed the problem of having two different programs with two different needs in one building. Montessori will be leaving in 2019, the failing Drew Model Program will be left.

  • The aggregated scores for the two programs are unacceptable today, what will they look like in 2019?

  • It’s time to shift gears. Leadership on the school level cannot fix a structural problem. Drew will become a single focus school in 2019 and all we have done for Drew Model Program is adopted a STEAM focus without qualified leadership.

  • The Montessori Program is well defined and achieving. We now have identified a principal for the Montessori Program but not the Model Program that is failing.


  • We need to build a successful new Drew Model Program.

  • The Montessori scores have been masking a decade of disservice to the graded children.

  • Each program needs its own school with its own budget, its own educational leaders, and vision for what it wants to be.

  • The time to address this is now, while decisions are being made about capacity and staff are being trained for STEAM.

Boundary changes are proposed for elementary schools in 2018. Who will want to send their child to a school that is already failing without a plan for success?

Portia A. Clark


Nauck Civic Association