January 13, 2023

Greetings Gunston Families,

This morning, during the announcements, I thanked students for their positive participation in the standardized testing this week. Most students brought a charged iPad to school and most were able to navigate the 2-hour delay schedule we implemented when testing was finished! It feels good to have that big testing task done. While I do wish there was less standardized in general, I did find a silver lining of this assessment. Students will be able to compare their progress from the fall to the winter, which can give them a better idea of what to focus on to be successful for higher stakes SOL assessment at the end of the year..

In my quick review of the data, I saw instances of students’ performance improving. I also saw a significant increase in the percentage of students responding correctly to questions on specific standards, which I think is the result of good teaching and good learning. I also saw some decreases both in individual student performance and percentage of students correctly answering questions related to a particular standard! So, in summary, I saw it all and do not necessarily have a definitive interpretation of the results!

But what I do know is that there is a way to use the results of the state required assessment to give students specific feedback about how they are tracking this year. I am a fan of anything that helps students feel empowered in their learning, able to see the benefit of their effort, and to see areas to work on moving forward, which is powerful for all learners. But for students who struggle a little bit more, these growth assessments build in some incremental hope throughout the year and not just a pass/fail at the end of the year.

So, yes, we can find a way to utilize the things that are required, that do have an impact on class time, to support the growth and maturation of students as learners. Students, obviously, don’t all come to the beginning of the school year with the same set of skills and advantages, but our work is to ensure that all students demonstrate mastery, learn grade-level standards, grow in their confidence as learners, and are seen and supported at Gunston. It’s big work. But it’s the right work and I look forward to seeing students’ growth throughout the rest of this school year.

Dr. Wiggins

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