The GCPS community is grateful to Chief William MacKay and Deputy Chief Eddie Ferguson, Goochland Fire and EMS, for their partnership and support in bringing Emergency Medical Technician I to our high school this fall. This morning’s lesson focused on the skills and competencies associated with CPR and First Aid.

Twenty-one GHS students are enrolled in EMT I.

Teachers from Randolph spent their summer in an innovative program designed to change how science is taught across Virginia.

Elizabeth Ferguson and Sara Rowan were selected for the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA), which kicked off with a four-week Elementary Science Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

RES teacher Elizabeth Ferguson at work in the institute (Photo credit: Lawson Craighill)

Funded by a $34m grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the program is intended to shift science instruction from the traditional teacher-led classroom to a hands-on, problem-based learning lab.

Teachers are also awarded a $5,000 stipend, $1,000 for classroom supplies, and an all-expense-paid trip to the Virginia Association of Science Teachers Professional Development Institute in the fall.  Additionally, each teacher is assigned a master teacher to provide mentoring throughout the school year.

VISTA also offers free professional development for new middle and high school scienceteachers, and district science coordinators.

The Goochland County Public Schools Instructional Council held its first meeting of the new school year last week. The Council began its work last fall, as a forum for engaging more stakeholders in division discussion and decision making. Membership includes parents, community members, students, teachers, and administrators.

If you would like to learn more about the GCPS Instructional Council or are interested in becoming a member, please contact me: sgeyer@glnd.k12.va.us / (804) 556-5609

Council members (l to r): Dean Young, Beth Ferguson, Sara Rowan, Andrew Snead, and Daniel Gardner

Council members (l to r): Wendy Murray, Deanna Nichols, Stacey Rainbolt, and James Hopkins

August 23, 2013

Dear Families of Students in Grades K-8,

On behalf of our entire GCPS team, I hope this finds everyone having had a successful and positive opening week of school. The intention of this letter is to communicate some of the changes associated with the division’s student assessment program.

Virginia’s public school students face a minimum of 34 “high stakes” tests during their thirteen-year public school career under the state’s Standards of Learning (SOL) assessment program. Additionally, students have traditionally encountered countless high stakes practice tests in preparation for the state assessments.

While we embrace the accountability characteristics of the state and federal system, we know that the assessment program falls short in providing the depth and breadth of information teachers, parents, and students need in order to maximize individual growth. We believe we’ve created a better way.

Last spring we released our Balanced Assessment Project, and I encourage our families to take a few minutes to review it as you have time. It can be accessed from our division Website and at: http://www.glnd.k12.va.us/resources/Balanced_Project_Final.pdf

This fall we will begin measuring individual student growth in the areas of literacy and mathematics using Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA)highly regarded, nationally normed assessment, Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®). In short, this assessment will be administered to our K-8 students three times each year (approximately 60 minutes per administration) and is “computer adaptive.” This means that the assessment adapts to individual student responses: as questions are answered correctly, the level of subsequent questions becomes more challenging; when a question is answered incorrectly, the assessment adapts with less difficult questions. This methodology, along with the nationally normed nature of the assessment, makes MAP® one of the most effective, accurate, and predictive measures of individual student progress. (SOL tests measure achievement, are built on common minimum proficiencies, and were not designed to measure individual growth.) After successful implementation, teachers and parents will begin to receive data that is specific to their child’s progress (or growth), along with the traditional measures of achievement related to state benchmarks.

While we are introducing growth measures this school year, please understand we are not simply adding more assessments. Due to the comprehensive nature of the MAP® test in grades K-8, we will be eliminating more than 70% of what have come to be known as “division marking period tests” or “MP tests.” The introduction of growth assessments, along with integrated performance tasks (learn more by reading our Balanced Assessment Project), will actually result in a net loss (nearly 40%) in assessments across our K-12 testing profile. Without question, this reduction will increase the amount of time available to teachers and students for teaching and learning.

Over the next few weeks, your child will take the MAP® assessments in the areas of reading and mathematics. We are giving the MAP® tests to determine your child’s instructional level (in reading and math) and to measure academic growth throughout the school year, as well as from year to year. MAP® assessments are administered on a computer.

Again, MAP® tests are unique in that they adapt to be appropriate for your child’s level of learning. As a result, each student has the same opportunity for success and maintaining a positive attitude toward testing. MAP® assessments will not be used as a grade for students.

For more information on resources for parents, you may download NWEA’s MAP® Parent Toolkit at http://www.nwea.org/.

We are thrilled to begin a new era in assessment, one that focuses on every child’s individual growth and achievement. As always, we appreciate your partnership in your child’s education and are always here to help.

The Goochland County Public Schools have submitted an application for $50,000 to be used in planning for a pilot year-round-school initiative at Randolph Elementary School.  The grant will be used to hire an individual to study the feasibility of the pilot program and to make recommendations to the board about implementation.  This program would be a school-within-a-school model and serve primary grade learners (one classroom each in grades K and 1).  No parents will be required to enroll their child in the program, but all parents will be offered an opportunity to opt-in.  Students who participate would start in mid-July 2014 and attend classes for nine-week sessions followed by three-wee intercessions.  “We see this as a wonderful way to reduce “summer slump” in learning retention and provide remediation opportunities for some students during intercessions,” commented Sandra Crowder, principal of Randolph Elementary School.  We will hold information sessions and interest meetings throughout the year if selected as a grant award  winner.  We will keep you posted!

RES Art teacher, Cindy Edmonds, and RES librarian, Sue Vaughan, took a Partners in the Arts Class this summer.  The organization thought the unit they created was fabulous and awarded them a $2,000 grant to implement it here in GCPS!

Please congratulate these exceptional teachers and ambassadors of our great community when you see them.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on September 13th, the school board voted to increase middle school coaching stipends and approved a first-ever supplement for the middle school athletic director. The coaching stipends have been stuck at $500, considerably lower than regional counterparts currently offer. The board raised those stipends to $1,000 each.

“This is much more suitable considering the work and the time these coaches pour into our students,” said superintendent, James Lane.

The middle school athletic director has never received any additional stipend, but will begin this year receiving $2,500. ”I’m grateful to the board for their support and believe this to be absolutely appropriate,” Dr. lane added.

Two GCPS students are broadening their horizons and breaking new ground with entrepreneurial learning!

Brandon Myrick is starting his sophomore year at Goochland High School. His sister Rachel is starting eighth grade at Goochland Middle School. The two have developed Do-Da Innovations, a company that sells ketchup and mustard specifically marketed for children.

You may remember Brandon from his recent selection as State Merit Winner in the 14th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

We are proud of these two stellar students and the work they are doing to explore innovative business marketing. You can read more about their business here.

Hello everyone, we received a few calls about bus schedules and just wanted to clarify and provide answers to some FAQs.

From the transportation department:

Students will not receive a “new” transportation schedule unless their bus assignment has changed. This has been our practice for many years.

Transportation schedules have been mailed out to all students that are -new students to the school system (including new kindergarteners, 6th graders and newcomers) -students with bus route changes -students that have moved

Guidance counselors continue to submit new student information and we are assigning students to buses as they come in. Parents are being called at this late date with bus assignment information.

Goochland High/Goochland Middle Schools time changes: Buses will continue to arrive at the same time as last year. Students will not be released from buses until 8:00 a.m. per principals.

Last year our secondary buses did not leave the school grounds until 3:22 to 3:27 p.m. each day, so we did not feel that a time change on either end was warranted.

Of course, we will be tweaking our times during the first 10 days of school. Parents will be notified if their child’s schedule will need to be changed for any reason.

Some parents may choose to transport their child this year but until we hear from the parents that bus transportation is not needed, the student’s name will remain on the bus rosters.

For safety reasons, parents of students in grades K-3 are asked to be at his/her child’s bus stop 5 minutes prior to their scheduled pick up and discharge times.

We are receiving calls each day from parents that have forgotten their child’s bus assignment or their child did not ride the bus last year and now they need transportation this school year. It is our goal to help parents and students get back on the bus! Our staff strives to assure parents and students that we are happy to answer any of their transportation questions.

If we can be of further help, please let us know.

Everyone is excited to get the students back in school including the bus drivers. We are looking forward to a great school year! If you have any questions, please call our transportation department at 556-5361.

Thank you for your continued support!