Draft Instructional Calendar for 2017-2018

Dear Goochland Families:

Earlier this fall, our school division started the planning process for the development of our 2017-2018 instructional calendar. This planning involved discussions with building level administrators, central office administrators, and representatives from the Superintendent’s Leadership team comprised of teacher and parent representatives from each of our five schools.  These collaborative discussions have resulted in a draft instructional calendar that is found here for your review.

This instructional calendar was developed with the goal of providing a structure that would best support our division’s goals, objectives, and strategies related to student learning and outlined in our strategic plan. As we work to maximize each student’s academic potential through engaging experiences with deeper learning, it is important to provide the professional training and support that our instructional staff needs to accomplish this objective. As a result, the draft instructional calendar for next year provides for scheduled professional development days throughout the year that will be used to allow for school level and division level training opportunities. Additionally, these days will also provide time for our instructional staff to analyze student assessment data, design lessons, and collaboratively plan with their colleagues, and work in their classrooms. These types of opportunities are key to improving our practices and providing professional growth. There is also a designated parent conference day in the fall.

The Goochland County Public Schools has demonstrated its leadership as an innovative school division that strives for continuous improvement. There are many examples of this mindset that are visible every day. Most notably, we have worked towards capitalizing upon our instructional time for learning by reducing the frequency of assessments delivered to students.  This approach is reflected in the attached draft. In December and June, there are no designated days for midterm and final exams. The days at the end of the semester and the end of the year are full days, not early dismissals. Instructional staff will continue to have the autonomy and flexibility to assess students and their knowledge during these times and throughout the school year.

Although there have been some modifications to the proposed calendar in an effort to support our division’s instructional goals, this draft calendar maintains many of the traditional timelines for starting school, holiday breaks, and the last day of school that have been a part of past calendars. This draft has been shared with multiple stakeholders, including through meetings that have been conducted recently at our schools with our employees. I continue to welcome your comments, thoughts, and feedback in the coming weeks. Feel free to send me an e-mail (jraley@glnd.k12.va.us) or give me a call (804-556-5601).  It is my goal to present a recommended calendar for the 2017-2018 school year to the School Board at their meeting on January 10, 2017.  No action will be taken until the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting in February.

Thank you for the support and guidance that you provide to our students! We have had a very successful first half of this school year and we are excited about the experiences and opportunities that our students will have in the new year.

Jeremy Raley, Superintendent

2 comments

  1. You obviously have good reason to start and end school on a Tuesday, but as a parent of 3 kids in the GCPS system for almost 20 years, I strongly suspect that those odd Mon/Tuesdays at the end of the marking period / semester after a weekend will end up being fairly unproductive days, without full attendance or student attention. Many parents may also find it difficult to arrange childcare and working schedules around partial weeks.

    Also, while I appreciate tests can be stressful, there is benefit to setting regular deadlines / tests as an incentive to learn material throughout the year. While you indicate teachers can still do this, our experience is that the approach to testing varies significantly between teachers, with some requiring an actual demonstration of learned knowledge and understanding, while others may offer “open book tests” or even provide the students with the answers in class to ensure they will perform well. Over the long term, I suspect this may make it more difficult for the students to work to deadlines in the real world, and develop good and consistent study habits. I hated studying for interim tests as a student, but found it a huge relief at the end of the year, when I had already studied and been tested on most of the material along the way, so only had to briefly revise what I knew, and ensure I had learned the material since the last regular test.

  2. I am disappointed to see Goochland Schools adding two professional days to the school year for teachers and extending the school year for the children. (the one in October and the one in February) thus limiting the students summer break, family time or camp. Pushing the last day of school to June 5 instead of allowing the students last day of school to be June 1st doesn’t allign with the hx of the school system. Dragging it over into the next week seems like a waste of an extra day and a half seems a little ridiculous since in most cases the last two or three days are basically a waste and the educational instruction is over . Plus parents who pay for full week child care in the summer end up having to shell out more money for a full week even though there kids will be going a partial week. Not to mention finding/paying additional child care for the two additional days during school year. Doesn’t make sense. Seems to complicate things.

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