Student achievement as measured in traditional ways (like multiple choice tests) provides great insight into students’ literacy skills, math skills, as well as their mastery of content (i.e. Do they know historical facts?). In Virginia achievement on the state’s SOL tests (Standards or Learning) is also directly tied to state and federal accountability for schools.

With our division’s strategic plan as a foundation, GCPS has prioritized individual student growth over traditional achievement. This is not to be confused with a disinterest in achievement or a lack of recognition that achievement is important; quite the opposite, student achievement is critically important. In isolation, however, traditional achievement tests provide an incomplete picture of student learning. Paired with individual growth measures, like the division’s MAP assessments (Measures of Academic Progress), students, families, and teachers now have a more complete picture of student learning at both a prescribed point in time as well as over time (i.e. fall to winter to spring and from year to year).

Moreover, we believe a prioritization of individual student growth allows our school community to focus on the division’s mission to maximize the potential of every learner; as such, strong achievement results are a natural byproduct. Perhaps equally important, we believe a focus on individual growth decreases stress associated with high stakes state testing and increases the likelihood of students being fully engaged in their school experience.

Just a few days ago the Virginia Board of Education equipped schools with a new means of further reducing undue pressure on students by providing students in grades 3 through 8 with the opportunity to “retake” failed SOL tests depending on the associated circumstances. You can read the Board’s full press release here.

In response GCPS is working to develop a May testing calendar that provides efficiencies for these new allowances for students. Additionally, we are creating further means of communication for our families in preparation for another spring testing season.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s principal, school counselor, Mrs. Jennifer Bocrie (Division Director of Testing), or me if we can answer questions or provide additional information. Many thanks!

We wanted to share a tremendous thank you to everyone who supported this year’s Fine Arts Festival. It was an amazing showcase of our students’ & teachers’ talents, dedication, and hard work.

We also wanted our community to know that the associated Empty Bowls fundraiser raised $665 for the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services. Thank you to our families, students, and our entire fine arts team!

The Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) has released its 19th annual VSBA Showcases for Success directory, highlighting successful K-12 programs in Virginia’s public schools. Featured programs fit within one of two categories –Virtual/Blended Learning and Career & Technical Education.

Goochland has been specifically recognized for three programs, the 1:1 mobile device initiative, Goochland Middle School STEM partnership with VCU, and JASON Learning project. Full descriptions of the programs are available here.

“In addition to highlighting some of the best practices taking place in Virginia’s schools, the Showcases for Success directory can serve as a starting point to develop similar programs in other school divisions,” said Gina G. Patterson, VSBA executive director.

“We are extremely proud of our inclusion in the ‘showcases’ document,” remarked Bruce Watson, Director of Career and Technical Education. “Goochland’s approach to implementing these initiatives will be an excellent model for other divisions hoping to develop similar programs.”

For more information about the VSBA Showcases for Success, contact Gina Patterson, VSBA executive director, at gina@vsba.org or434-295-8722.

Virginia Commonwealth University is offering a Mini-Economy Training Institute free of charge this summer to interested upper elementary and middle grades teachers. The 3-day institute carries 18 recertification points and is described as demonstrating “how teachers can design a mini-economy, integrate it with classroom instruction, and leverage the unit as a performance assessment.”

The full description and registration information is available here.

BES’ Alyson Foskey was awarded 3rd place overall in the Richmond District PTA Citizenship Essay Contest.  The topic of the essay was, “I can positively influence my peers by…”  Her family was invited to a reception held last week Atlee High School, where she received a very nice certificate!

We understand Alyson’s teachers are encouraging her to share her exemplary essay at the 5th grade graduation ceremony!

Well done, Allyson!

The Goochland Rotary Club donates a tremendous amount of time and resources to our school division. Members contribute instructional materials and work directly with our students as mentors and tutors, volunteering personal time and energy to help us achieve our mission of maximizing the potential of every learner.

I encourage you to come hear the VCU Singers & Chamber Musicians tomorrow evening at 7PM, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Richmond. The proceeds will benefit our students directly and you’re sure to enjoy a wonderful night of beautiful music.

In recognition of the innovation and success of its Values Based Leadership (VBL) initiative, Goochland County Public Schools (GCPS) has been named a District of Distinction by District Administration. Goochland County was among 62 districts across the nation that were honored in the March 2015 round of Districts of Distinction, the magazine’s national recognition program for K12 school districts.

“We are pleased to honor Goochland County as a District of Distinction,” says JD Solomon, editorial director at District Administration magazine. “Like all our honorees, Goochland County Public Schools serves as a model for school leaders across the country.”

GCPS began its journey into values based leadership in 2012 in partnership with Luck Companies.

“A big congratulations from all of us here at Luck Companies for yet another round of recognition of your commitment, hard work and leadership,” remarked Mark Fernandes, Luck Companies Chief Leadership Officer. “We look forward to our continued work together in support of your mission to ensure all students are provided to opportunity to realize their full potential.”

“The next step in that process for us is to develop the leadership potential in our students, through the development of a leadership curriculum that includes the identification of each student’s own values,” Hendron adds. “We are indebted to the Luck Companies of Goochland, Virginia, for sharing their decade-long experience with values-based leadership.”

GCPS introduced the VBL model to its leadership team and launched a six-year strategic planning initiative that is still underway. Currently, the district is designing a leadership curriculum for students. The district’s ECCHO awards recognize the “excellence, creativity, courage, honor and optimism” in staff and students working to better their schools.