May 6, 2022

Greetings Gunston Families,

Happy rainy Friday! Even though it is raining while I craft this message, there is abundant sunshine in my heart! I have been to two performances of “Once On This Island Jr.”, Gunston’s first musical. It made me smile, made me laugh, and even a few tears of joy leaked out of my eyes! It was that good. And it was great to see our students having fun, sharing their talent, and just witnessing something quintessential middle school. Middle school should be about experiences, being able to try something new, discover a new passion or talent, and making positive memories. I was happy to witness that this week. There is one more performance tonight at 6pm, if you are looking for a little bit of middle school joy this evening!

We are one week away from the continuation of the SOL (state mandated standardized testing) season. Included with this message is a PDF of our SOL schedule. We will also post the schedule on the web page and we will be mailing a letter home as well. We want to cover all of our bases!

Students this week also took the Reading Inventory (RI), an assessment that measures a student’s Lexile or grade-level of reading. Students will also take the Math Inventory (MI) next week, a different assessment that measures Algebra readiness. The results will be posted in ParentVue and StudentVue. We will look at students’ growth this year, as one data point, for plans for next year.

Yes, it is a lot of assessing. But those data are important for us and important for students. We want them to see their growth over this year. It is easy to just follow the teacher’s lead and be like a passenger on their educational journey. We don’t want your children to just be passive passengers, we want them to be in the driver’s seat too. The assessments and the conversations about results, are data points to celebrate success, reflect on actions that influenced the results, and are helpful in goal setting for next steps.

I also think standards-based grading is another way to empower students to be active in their education. I love overhearing students talk about getting a “4 out of a 4” (the highest score on the scale) and talking about going to retake a summative assessment. We want them to develop their agency. We have to teach that and provide opportunities for them to practice. So, not just learning content at school, but learning how to be a learner at school. And those skills will serve them well in the future.

I hope you and the people and pets you love are well. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and to all who mother others. May you feel celebrated and loved this weekend!

Warmly,
Dr. Wiggins