As we nudge closer to spring break in early April, there are clear messages we have in schools.
First, we must finish the school year at the highest achievement levels possible. Our students have done terrific work this year, and our winter data suggests we are seeing growth and achievement that looks a lot like pre-pandemic performance.
Second, we must also put in concerted work to plan for the next school year. That process calls for parents, students and staff to pull together and communicate about the next educational steps.
In a few short weeks, parents and students will attend spring conferences. These conversations require high engagement by students and staff to demonstrate achievement growth and progress toward learning goals and standards.
Conferences should also be a celebration of many things each student has achieved so far and the discussion of what goals can be attained by the end of the year. At the middle and high school levels, the conversation also includes making informed decisions about courses to be taken next year.
These decisions are critically important because they should reflect the student’s development of the high school and beyond plan. We want students actively engaged in work to determine their interests and strengths and learn what potential education and career paths are connected. Spring conferences offer the ability for families to engage with their teachers to make highly informed decisions.
At our younger levels, spring conferences offer incredible goal-setting opportunities for the final portion of the school year. What reading and math levels can be attained?
Our winter data is showing students who started the school year below benchmark for their grade are making the strongest gains. The data allows for the conversation about what can happen in the spring to continue high growth toward proficiency.
It is really exciting to see students set and reach academic goals.
Equally exciting is the spring focus on kindergarten registration and the ability for families to meet the staff prior to starting school next fall. Kindergarten registration opens on March 20.
This can either be completed online via our website or by paper packets received at the neighborhood school. We also have an exciting event planned for May 3 at Yelm Middle School from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The event is called “Countdown to Kindergarten.”
Families attending this event can meet their principal and some staff, gain information from our nurses, practice getting on and off a school bus, and also engage in games to receive books for the summer.
Last year’s Countdown to Kindergarten was packed with families and a great opportunity to connect with the new school.
Spring is an exciting time. We want to get more and more focused on success leading up to the end of the year, and of course, graduation. Please continue to check the district and school websites for spring activities that everyone can attend.
See you at the schools.
Brian Wharton is the superintendent for Yelm Community Schools.