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!

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.

Congratulations to Randolph Elementary School for being recognized with a 2015 SupportMusic Merit Award by the National Association of Music Merchants. RES is one of only 120 schools throughout the country to receive this recognition.

Randolph’s music program is led by Mr. Andrew Snead.

Music instruction at Randolph Elementary School, March 2015

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. When can children begin kindergarten? State guidelines dictate that a child who is five years old on or before September 30 of the upcoming school year should enroll in kindergarten.

2. How do I register my child for kindergarten? Thursday, April 16, 2015 (8:00-4:00) is the established day for 2015-16 kindergarten registration across our region of the Commonwealth. Families should plan to register at the elementary school whose attendance zone corresponds to their home address. (Please contact the division transportation department at 556-5361 with individual questions regarding elementary school attendance zones.) Even if families do not have all of the required documents, they should plan to register on April 16 in order to begin the enrollment process.

3. What do I need to register my child for kindergarten? TWO of the following documents are required: Proof of residency documents such as: • tax returns • voter registration card • recent payroll stub with physical address • automobile registration • utility bill (other than cell phone)/deposit receipt

Families will also need to bring the following documents that are required before a child may begin school in the fall: • a certified birth certificate for the child, or, for non-U.S. citizens, other substantiating documentation such as a passport or an I – 94 form • the child’s social security card • a copy of a comprehensive physical examination by a qualified, licensed physician within 12 months prior to the date the child begins school • evidence of immunizations as required by Virginia law.

4. My child will be five by September 30, 2015, but is not yet ready for kindergarten. Do I have to enroll my child this school year? No. Your child’s enrollment may be delayed for one year; however, you should notify the Superintendent in writing of your plans to delay kindergarten registration for one year.

5. My child just misses the deadline for enrollment in kindergarten by a few days. Is there a waiver of the age requirement? No. Goochland County Public Schools does not offer a waiver of the age requirement.

6. Will my child attend a half-day or full-day kindergarten program? Goochland County Public Schools operates a full-day kindergarten program.

7. I am separated from my spouse and I don’t want him/her to visit or pick up my child. Will you make sure that doesn’t happen? Anyone other than the natural parent of a child must provide legal guardianship papers when enrolling a child in school. If your spouse is the natural parent of your child and you do not have legal papers showing court ordered arrangements, we must, by law, allow the parent to see the child. It is the responsibility of the parent(s) to provide the school with appropriate legal documents.

8. When is the first day of kindergarten and when will we learn who our kindergarten teacher is? The first day of the 2015-16 school year is Monday, August 24. You will receive a letter in the mail in August from your child’s school stating your child’s teacher assignment.

9. How will I know where and when to wait for the school bus? You will receive your child’s transportation information from the transportation department. This letter will contain your child’s bus driver’s name, bus number, telephone number, bus stop times and location. A responsible adult should be there with your child at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive in the morning and the afternoon. An adult should be at the bus stop until your child reaches fourth grade.

10. Is there an orientation specifically for families of incoming kindergarten students? Yes. Each of our three elementary schools will host a Kindergarten Orientation for families. This event is an opportunity to hear from school administration about day-to-day school operations and kindergarten programming. It’s also an opportunity for kindergarteners to meet their teachers and visit their classrooms. Kindergarten Orientation is typically held on the Thursday before the first day of the new school year.

11. Where may I obtain more information? http://www.doe.virginia.gov/students_parents/student_enrollment.shtml