Another Quarter Down… Time to Celebrate!

I can’t believe it is already the end of Quarter 3!  Where has the time gone? Quarter 3 was just as action packed as Quarter 2, and there has been much learning!  One of my favourite things we do at UAS is Week Without Walls.  Although all the trips are important, it is really the Service Learning trips that have had the greatest impact on our students.  Please take 4 minutes to watch this video:

We have extraordinary kids at UAS and the Week Without Walls is an excellent opportunity for our students to truly live the Mission of our school.  We have a lot of work to do with the home portion of the Week Without Walls experience; and although nothing will be able to match the bonding, learning and importance of our overseas trip we are committed to developing Week Without Walls to ensure all students get the opportunity to explore ways to become caring, critical thinking, responsible global citizens.

Tomorrow at 2:00 the High School will be conducting our second student celebration of the year in the MPH.  The first Assembly was great and many of our students are eager for the next one.  We hope that this assembly will be bigger and  better than the first, which, if you missed it can be recapped here.

I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.  The fourth quarter is sure to have many more great memories and we are excited for all the important learning our students are going to do.

 

International Day – Wednesday!

Come Join International Day on Wednesday!

On March 15th, UAS will be celebrating International Day.  The PTSO along with students and teachers throughout the school have been working tirelessly to prepare for what will truly be a day to remember! The Elementary, Middle and High School will each visit the festival throughout the day.  High School students are encouraged to wear the colors of their flag or their own national dress.  The High School will run a shortened day schedule whereby all classes finish before our regularly scheduled lunch break.  At 1:20, students will be dismissed to the International Day festival.  They should bring spending cash for the food trucks which will be selling items for lunch.  Students will need to buy vouchers from the PTSO booth in order to pay for food at the vendors’ trucks.  

Starting at 2:00, performances will take place on stage by students across all three school divisions.  These performances will wrap up around 3:00 and students who ride the bus, and are not staying for the remainder of the day, should prepare for their ride home.  Buses will run at the regularly scheduled time of 3:25.  The evening performances will begin at 3:30 and the International Day festival will end at 7:00 PM.  The International Day celebration will be a great event for the entire UAS community.  We do hope to share the fun and enjoy the festivities with you, so see you there! 

As a preview to all the fun, check out this video from International Day 2015!  This year is sure to be bigger and better.  We hope you will join us!

http://www.uasdubai.ae/page.cfm?p=6690

A Week in the Life of a Busy High School!

March 5th, 2017.

It’s a real shame that the KHDA inspection didn’t happen last week. If it had, we would have been able to showcase so much of what we are proud of.  Here is what we did last week:

SUNDAY:

Drop Everything and Read.  As part of our Literacy Month, the whole school stopped on Sunday to have 25 minutes of quiet reading time.  Our Literacy initiatives are paying off.  Our MAP tests show that our kids are doing an exceptional job reading.  Moreover, last night we got our PISA results from 2015.  If UAS were a country, we would be number one in the world in reading!  That is a fabulous result.

Blood Drive.  In the spirit of giving, UAS ran it’s annual Blood Drive this week.  Those who were old enough to participate did so.  We had 63 people donate over 100 litres of blood!

MONDAY: PSAT testing.

Our PSATs are done and based on our results last year, we have much to continue to be proud of!  In our Grade 10 cohort from last year, we had 3 students in the 99th percentile!  We’re hoping to top that this year!

TUESDAY: Athletics Banquet

On Tuesday we celebrated our season 2 athletes.  The turn-out was amazing!  What impressed me the most was the quality of speeches our students wrote.  Our kids are amazing speakers and we will continue to put them on stage where they belong!  Huge kudos to Mr. Trottier and Mr. Carter for developing such a heart-felt celebration of student achievement.

NESAC Boys Basketball Championship Celebration – 2017 Universal American School

WEDNESDAY: Week Without Walls Reflection Meeting

Last week we sat down and talked as a leadership team about one of the things we are the most proud of: our external Week Without Walls Trips, and, one of the things we recognize needs improvement: our Week Without Walls here.  Lots of great ideas came to the table.  As it stands, the overseas trips are life-changing experiences for kids.  They do meaningful work and learn the value of altruism.  So much more can be done here.  We are looking to improve engagement in our work placement programme and  raise expectations on a local programme driven by curriculum.  We welcome any feedback you may have.

THURSDAY: Cap & Gown

The class of 2017 met early in the library on Thursday to try on their Grad Caps and Gowns.  With Graduation just 2 months away, the energy in the room was very exciting!  The senior parade took the grads on a stroll down memory lane, where some of them got to walk the halls of the Elementary wing – where they attended school 11 years ago!  After that, we met on the field for our Group Photo. The students looked amazing and we were so proud to be a part of their special day.  Huge thanks to the Senior Moms for their support of this event!

Every week at UAS is action-packed.  I can’t wait to share it with the DSIB inspectors this week!

Have a great week, UAS!

A Preview of Sunday’s Meetings for Grade 8 and 10 Parents.

I have a confession to make: I love the KHDA!  Too often schools scapegoat our regulatory body for holding us accountable to our stakeholders. I get why we do that… it’s easy. It’s easy to blame the KHDA for “making us” make changes. Change is difficult, change is scary, but change is also the only constant in our world.

Dubai is a forward thinking place.  It is ambitious and expanding. Change is a constant here. The population of the entire UAE was 300000 in 1971 and in 2012, we eclipsed 2 million in Dubai alone. That means big change, and the KHDA both represents and pursues this same pace of change in education. After all, we are not going to prepare students for the world of 2028 by engaging in educational practices from 1928. Yet, that is what all schools do to some extent. In fact, many practices from 1998 or 2008 are currently outdated, this is why the KHDA emplores each school to take on practices of innovation. Some people scoff at the fact that there is no formula for innovation. Many schools and educators I have met simply want to be told “what to do” in terms of innovation. But if there was a formula, it wouldn’t qualify as being innovative, would it? By striving for innovation, schools can truly prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow highlighted in the video above.

The other thing the KHDA does is hold us all accountable.  They set standards for education and inspect schools to ensure that we are providing the best quality education we can for young people. This is a remarkable thing – regulation in a free market economy.

When I arrived in Dubai over 70% of American Schools were not accredited. So, the KHDA decided to do something about it. What they did was work with an official American accreditation agency and draft THIS POLICY (I highly recommend that you read it) to ensure that all American schools in Dubai provide a standardized level of service. In spite of recent events in the US, I’m glad to know that someone still thinks being “American” should still stand for something!

UAS is, was, and always will be an accredited American and IB school. We have a great program and we are continuing to develop structures that keep us up to date with the best American and International practices.  In the 18 months that I have been here, we have instituted the MAP assessments to triangulate data, ensuring the grades UAS gives are commensurate with other American and IB schools. Under the impressive leadership of Ms. Gibson, our teams have restructured the curricula in Grades 9 and 10, aligning them to American Standards. We continue to pursue best practices as an American and IB school.

The KHDA policy above is going to mean we have to restructure things a little for our incoming Grade 9’s to be compliant. The changes are fairly minor.  For instance, all students will take PE in Grade 9 and 10.  In other words, we will no longer insist that our Muslim community must choose between PE and Languages. Were we to continue that practice, any student who chose Languages would not be eligible for their American High School Diploma. We have built a structure where all students will be able to take both PE and Languages in addition to meeting the requirements of Islamic Studies.  This is a good thing. It is essential to communicate that for our existing Grade 9 to 12 students, no changes apply, and the KHDA has informed us it will recognize our current structures for those grades.

On Sunday at 6:00 PM in the library, we invite parents of students in Grade 8 to come ask questions about high school.  This will be the first of a series of transitional meetings with parents.  At the same time Mr. Coppes and Ms. Cummins will run an introduction to the IB for Grade 10 parents in room 2200.  Outside of a potential additional offering (Sport and Nutrition), there are no changes planned for the IB programme. 

The objectives of both meetings are as follows:

  1. Communicate – We have some adjustments to make in our structure and our practice. We understand that you want to know about them.
  2. Listen – We asked for your input on the Grade 8 RSVP & Grade 10 RSVP and we will build answers to your questions into our presentations.  We also want to engage in face-to-face dialogue and showcase our work.
  3. Build Relationships – My role as Principal is to oversee the learning of your children in every aspect of their for the next 4 years.  That is challenging work and I am truly honoured and privileged to do it.  I want to learn more about the parents of these young people that drive me to work hard for them each and every day. My team shares this goal.
  4. Build Trust – We understand that your children are the most important things in your lives.  Their education is important to you, and, to us.  We have the same goals, and you need to know that we know what we are doing.  Between myself, Mr. Coppes and Ms. Cummins we have over 40 years experience in education, 30 years of IB experience, 25 years in American schools and (thanks to Ms. Cummins) 11 years at UAS. We will be the people that steer the high school at UAS in the coming years, so it’s imperative that we work with stakeholders to help us improve the quality of service provided.

We very much look forward to seeing you on Sunday evening!

OB Sealey

High School Principal

 

 

Sports, Spirit and Communication re: Track and Field Day

This week has had some amazing moments on the sports fields.  Our Soccer teams went to the NEASC tournament in Cyprus where they acquitted themselves beautifully!  UAS won many of it’s games, but more importantly the school spirit was on full display.  Our students won the sportsmanship awards as well as many spirit awards at the tournament.  Sports are a great way to showcase a school and I was so proud to receive a Whatsapp video from Ms. Gibson showing our Varsity boys cheering loudly and proudly for our JV Girls.  UAS has a strong sense of community and it was ever present in Cyprus last weekend.  If you want to learn more, please go to the UAS Athletics Blog.

On Sunday I had the honour of watching the Varsity Boys basketball team compete against ASD.  Despite being down 12 points just before half-time, the Scorpions battled back on strong team defense, chipped away at the lead and hit a key basket to take the first lead of the game with less than a minute remaining.  ASD responded with a buzzer-beating 2 pointer, sending the game to the first of two overtimes.  Our Scorpions out-hustled and out worked their opponents all game, but eventually lost in double overtime.  It was a proud moment for this former basketball coach.  .
This Thursday is Track and Field Day for Grades 6 to 10.  There will be no classes on that day.  Grade 11 students are to come in for an introduction to the Extended Essay and Grade 12 students are to come in to complete CAS and catch up on missed or upcoming deadlines under supervision.  This has been communicated with the students in Homeroom.

Track and Field Day is an incredibly important part of our curriculum and it makes the most sense to hold in on a Thursday.  This year there have been many Thursday disruptions and tomorrow (Wednesday) we will be running Thursday’s schedule to try to minimize the amount of missed classes.  We have never done this before, so we are curious to see how it is going to transpire. We are curious to see how our attendance system will respond.  We appreciate any feedback you may have.

After Track and Field Day, UAS will be holding it’s first “Seniors” Night for Varsity Athletes.  We hope all parents of the Varsity teams can come support the UAS basketball teams as the seniors are celebrated in the last home game of their careers.  Great things are learned on the sports courts – communication, team-work, dealing with frustration, determination, grit, hustle, hard work… the list can go on and on.  Our athletes deserve a proper send 0ff and I hope many of our students, parents and teachers will join me in celebrating with the seniors on their last home game.

Please come join us!

Grade 8 and 10 Parents – THIS RSVP SHOULD WORK!

Hi folks!

Ah the challenges of the digital age!  sigh.

Here’s a lesson for anyone using Google Forms.  If you send a link in an email, you can use the setting “anyone with the link can access”.  If you use a blog, it must be “anyone on the web can access”.  Learned something new today!

Please forgive the confusion.  It’s not just an RSVP, we are more interested in finding out what YOU want to know about.  Please try again below!  If THIS doesn’t work, please send me an email.  To date we have 5 parents coming for Grade 8 and 6 for Grade 10.

RSVP for Grade 8 Parents

RSVP for Grade 10 Parents

RSVP for Grade 8 and Grade 10 Information Evenings

Dear Parent(s) of the Classes of 2019 and 2021,

On Thursday we sent the message below to parents in Grade 8 and Grade 10.  We are trying to get a sense of numbers to ensure that the rooms allocated meet the needs of the groups.  Currently we have Grade 8 scheduled for the Secondary Library and Grade 10’s scheduled for room 2200.

We ask that you RSVP to the event, and, please list out any specific questions or concerns you have so that our team might ensure the evening effectively meets your expectations.

RSVP for Grade 8 Parents

RSVP for Grade 10 Parents

Note: If you are struggling to access the RSVP, please erase your “cache” memory and restart your computer.

Reminder of the event:

We would like to invite parents of current Grade 10 students to our “Welcome to the IB Diploma Programme” evening on February 5th at 18:00 in room 2200. In addition, we would like to invite the parents of current Grade 8 students to our “Welcome to High School” evening at the same time in the Secondary Library.

The Grade 10 event will cover the following topics:

Our Grade 11’s will continue to pursue the IB Diploma Programme or a partial Diploma.

An introduction to the IB Diploma Programme
Core Requirements of the IB DP Programme: Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge, CAS
Requirements for Full Diploma Candidates
IB courses offered at UAS for the Class of 2019

The Grade 8 event will cover the following topics:

New Regulations for American Schools in Dubai

An introduction to the new structure for American Schools.
How UAS will ensure all students qualify for an American Diploma.
How UAS will ensure all students get the pre-requisites to enter the IB Diploma Programme.
An opportunity to discuss hopes and concerns… we want your feedback!
We look forward to seeing you on February 5th.

Yours sincerely,

OB Sealey

High School Principal

osealey@uasdubai.ae

Tracey Cummins

IB Coordinator

tcummins@uasdubai.ae

Invitation for Parents to Grade 8 and 10 Information Evening February 5th, 2017

Dear Parent(s) of the Classes of 2019 and 2021,

We would like to invite parents of current Grade 10 students to our “Welcome to the IB Diploma Programme” evening on February 5th at 18:00 in room 2200. In addition, we would like to invite the parents of current Grade 8 students to our “Welcome to High School” evening at the same time in the Secondary Library.

The Grade 10 event will cover the following topics:

IB Diploma Programme

  • An introduction to the IB Diploma Programme
    1. Core Requirements of the IB DP Programme: Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge, CAS
  • Requirements for Full Diploma Candidates
  • IB courses offered at UAS for the Class of 2019

the Grade 8 event will cover the following topics:

New Regulations for American Schools in Dubai

  • An introduction to the new structure for American Schools.
  • How UAS will ensure all students qualify for an American Diploma.
  • How UAS will ensure all students get the pre-requisites to enter the IB Diploma Programme.
  • An opportunity to discuss hopes and concerns… we want your feedback!

We look forward to seeing you on February 5th.

Yours sincerely,

OB Sealey

High School Principal

osealey@uasdubai.ae

 

Tracey Cummins                                            

IB Coordinator

tcummins@uasdubai.ae

 

 

How do we balance the old and the new?

So… it’s mid-year exam week (2 weeks actually).  You know, when we shut down classes and put the kids in a room, don’t let them talk to each other and ask them to write down everything they know about the Malthusian Spectre.

Digression ahead!

Now, don’t met me wrong…I’m a big Mathusian guy – I love the idea that the world is full of finite resources and that some day there will be a tipping point at which the human population will not be able sustain itself.  I’m fascinated by the idea I heard at a Ken Robinson talk that if we all lived off the same amount of resources that the average Rwandan does, the earth has enough resources to sustain a population of 14 billion people, but if we all live off the same resources as the average American we can sustain 1.5 billion. Those are neat ideas.  But, I want to explore them.  I want to debate them.  I want to challenge them.  I really don’t want to memorize them and write them out by hand in a pressure-packed two-hour testing environment in a room with 125 hyper-caffeinated, sleep-deprived teenagers that I’m not allowed to talk to. In other words… as a learner, I don’t think an exam is the most appropriate way to communicate my understanding of the works of Thomas Robert Malthus.

Digression over… back to balancing the old and the new.

Our school uses an internal social networking site called Yammer to share ideas.  We are having a very interesting internal discussion on the value of mid-year exams.  Our teachers are engaged in a digital discussion about the place of exams in a modern educational paradigm. On one hand we have some valid points supporting exams.  The first argument is about “preparing students for university”, a valid one as many universities rely heavily on exams for both entrance and assessment.  This is true.  The second argument is that we are an IB school, and the IB’s reputation was built largely on the rigour of it’s exams. As a former IB History teacher, I love the construction of the IB exams, especially History Paper 1.  There is a place for it and there is a lot of thinking that goes into writing a good exam. The third argument is that exams are stressful, and we have a responsibility to prepare students for that stress. These are all valid arguments, and many are backed by research.  I absolutely agree that we have a responsibility to prepare kids for their IB exams and the school should always keep some form of exam week, especially at the end of the year.

But… the discussion has also recognized that universities are changing, and schools should follow suit.  My mother was a professor of Medicine at McMaster University.  McMaster invented problem-based learning because it was noted that a large number of medical students could not apply on patients what they had memorized through years of study.  She “shudders to think” of the number of people who were (literally) killed by inexperienced young doctors who didn’t recognize in real life the things they could write flawlessly about on their five-hour exam. Schools all over the world are looking for more authentic assessment methods that prepare students more effectively for the future.  I think we should continue follow suit. The learning I’m seeing from our Humanities department who had their students create animated videos were much more authentic assessments.  Plus, my experience is that students tend to retain information on these types of assessments, meaning they are better for learning.

The university argument doesn’t hold as much water as it used to.  Many elite universities are ditching the SAT test because it is an antiquated practice that gives little reliable information about student performance and (according to Abby’ Jackson’s article) “may harm low-income students” due to the cultural bias inherent in the questions.  In a math exam today, I witnessed this first hand.   We have a student who is one of the most inspirational young artists I have ever known. She is creative and curious. She is a hard worker.  She speaks fluent English but it is not her first language. She is also a teenager and is dealing with all the uncertainty and confusion that adolescence carries.  On the exam, she raised her hand because she was unsure about what the question was asking her to do.  She sought clarification, clearly communicating that she knew there were two ways to approach this question but she wasn’t confident which one the question asked for.  According to our school policy, the IB policy, and, the global culture of exam invigilation we could not answer this question as it risked “helping” the student. The heartbreaking part is, this young lady wanted to share what she knew; she just wanted some clarification on which method she should show.  This is exactly how cultural bias can harm students.  Exam culture and rules prohibit teachers from helping kids, yet questions are written with an assumption that students “should” know what the question is asking.   We may not know if she could do the math because of how the question was phrased.  The cultural bias is real.

We do exams well at UAS.  They begin and end on time, students know not to talk and the tests are appropriately challenging.  On the other hand, the last two weeks have been disruptive.  Many parents have struggled with arranging transit to and from exams, some students have made poor choices under the stress of exams, classes have not run and teachers are loaded with marking.  I worry that next week our students and teachers will be exhausted and that the learning will suffer.  In my last two schools mid-term exams were removed and student grades went up as teachers chose more varied assessment methods. Mr. Torris did the same at his previous school and his IB scores remained the same.  During my principal’s coffee last week I asked parents if they would support the removal of mid-year exams for Grades 9 and 10. We would still keep finals and any KHDA mandated assessments such as the MAP tests.  Every parent I have spoken to has supported the idea.  Do you?

PLEASE TAKE SURVEY

left: Cambridge Students taking exams in the 1900’s – image taken from www.cambridgeassessment.org.uk

right: UAS students taking exams last week – image taken from my phone 🙂

Assessment Practices – Let’s Look at Some (Scary) Numbers!

Here is a number that scares me a little: 44472.  Why does that number scare me?  Because it is theoretically the number of assessments we do in High School every year!  

When I came into the school, I learned that we have a guideline that each teacher is “expected” to give three assessments per subject per quarter (two formative and one summative).  I am not sure where this number came from, who set the expectation, or where it is written (because it’s not in our handbooks!), but I’ve heard it in a number of meetings with teachers and curriculum leaders.  I understand the thinking – usually you want several pieces of evidence to make valid inferences about what students have learned.  However, as we know, formative assessments are not meant to “count” towards a student’s grade. As time has gone on, it seems our teachers have begun to think of formative assessments as quizzes or smaller summative assessments they have to be marked.  As I understand it, there are two reasons this happened. The first is that teachers found our students did not take formative assessments seriously since they did not “count”.  The second is that prior to the arrival of our K-12 Curriculum Coordinator, Ms. Gibson, the school did not appear to continually work with our teachers on what types of formative assessments are the most effective for learning.  So, over time, as teachers left the school and new teachers came in, the nature of our formative assessments appear to have changed.  I have heard students ask “is this a formative or a summative assessment?”.  If you can’t tell, that’s a problem!  In speaking with teachers and curriculum leaders, I believe we have now arrived at a place where many teachers believe they have to do two small  and one large summative assessment per subject per quarter.

But how do we get from 3 per quarter to 44472?   That sounds like a lot!

Allow me to break that down for you.  You see, each student in Grades 9 and 10 take nine classes and in Grades 11 and 12 they take eight.  Three assessments per quarter would mean Grade 9 and 10 students take 12 per year per class (12 x 9 = 108).  If they are in 11 and 12 they would be doing 12 x 8 = 96.  We have 228 students in Grades 9 and 10 and 209 in Grades 11 and 12.  That means, if each teacher does the two small and one large assessment per quarter, Grades 9 and 10 do 24408 (228 x 108) assessments, Grades 11 and 12 do 20064 (96 x 209).

What does 108 assessments per child mean?  Well, considering there are only 178 contact days, it would mean a fair bit.  Factor in week without walls, the week before each set of exams (when there should be no assessments), parent teacher interviews, the first week of school and the last week of school we lose an additional 31 days. This means we would theoretically be doing 108 assessments in 147 days.  We also have MAP testing three times per year and our Grade 10’s have CAT 4 and PSAT as well.  The KHDA mandates we take these external assessments, so, our Grade 10 students – if we are following the “expected” practice – would end up doing 120 assessments in 147 days!

For a teacher, it’s not much better.  We have 57 teachers that take students, accounting for partial loads we have 52 full time teachers on staff in High School.  Given our number of 44472, our 52 teachers would average just over 855 assessments per year.  That’s a lot of marking!   To me this raises a number of questions:

Where did this number come from?  There is nothing in the IB, the KHDA or the Common Core that says we have to have 12 assessments per subject per year.  It isn’t even in our own handbooks.  It appears to be a guideline from a time when we were a smaller school with smaller assessments.  The issue is that some teachers believe it’s still something they “have” to do.  They do not!

Is this too much assessment? Maybe, maybe not.  These numbers are mind-boggling, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a flawed practice in every subject. That said, assessment should not be about a set number of tasks. Assessment should be driven by clearly defined learning standards or objectives. Therefore it may be appropriate to have fewer assessments or (gasp) more, depending on what learning is being targeted.  What I do know is that a “one-size-fits-all” approach for each subject area makes little educational sense because different subjects are targeting different areas of learning.  I also know that if students are expected to do this work at home, each task was richly developed and had to be marked with feedback… that would be a huge burden!

Does this impact the quality of feedback?  This is something I will be monitoring very closely.  The only thing that really matters in an assessment is the quality of feedback a student gets.  Feedback should be specific and targeted toward learning objectives.  Students should know exactly where they are in their learning and be able to articulate their strengths and weaknesses in each learning domain.  Feedback is the most effective way to do this, and I wonder if 855 tasks in a year limits our ability to provide outstanding feedback?  If a student does not understand why they got the grades they did, or what they need to do to improve, there is a clear indicator that the feedback isn’t meeting standard.

How does this impact the classroom?  Every day we are looking to improve the quality of teaching and instruction.  I wonder if fewer assessments would mean better lessons?  If a teacher is spending their time marking so many papers, would that time be better spent on lesson preparation?

What does this mean for Homework?  Homework is meant to be something that augments the learning of our students, it doesn’t count against grades.  As principal, I wonder how students can manage this load and do homework.  I had a discussion with a parent recently who told me her daughter does 3 or 4 hours of homework every night.  Do students get to choose if they can do homework?  Can they set priorities?  In what ways does our homework improve learning?

And the most important question:  What is the impact on student learning?  All year our students have been working really, really hard.  But how much have they learned, and do they know why they learned it?  If they don’t… what was the point of all that work?

So, is it time to panic?  No!  We know that not every subject is giving the “expected” 12 assessments per year.  We also know that this number was never intended to be an absolute, it has been a guideline. I have read all our assessment policies and have not seen these numbers written anywhere.  However, even a guideline, we can get into some difficult territory with students and teachers. Guidelines have a way of becoming practices, and when we look at the numbers, practices can place significant burden on our students.  The point I am making is that it’s time for the school to take a long look at it’s practices and ensure they are designed to meet the needs of our learners.

I’m pleased to say that this work has already begun.  Ms. Gibson, our curriculum coordinator is doing an amazing job of reviewing our curriculum and assessment practices at UAS.  We are in a monitoring phase, where we are being very reflective about our practices before we make any changes.  We give no more or no fewer assessments this year than any other year.  Every day, Mr. Coppes, Ms. Cummins and I recognize the amazing work of our teachers and how far we have come in 10 short years.  However, we are on a journey of constant improvement towards being an exceptional school.  On that journey we will value quality over quantity, feedback over marks, and learning over testing.  We will work to improve our subject offerings so that students aren’t burdened with taking required courses later in their schooling.  As we grow, students will know exactly where they are in their learning, and as a result, our assessment numbers may go down, but our results will go up.  It is an exciting time to be at UAS and I am looking forward to seeing these projects develop to improve our both our IB scores and internal UAS scores in the coming years.  I just left a meeting led by Ms. Gibson where teachers were given the resource 15 Fixes for Broken Grades by Ken O’Connor.

I left happy, knowing that the practices we are building at UAS are up to date and supported by research.  I left thinking we are doing some very important work modernizing our practices.  And, I left thinking 15 is a waaaaay better number than 44472!

____

Key dates:

Wednesday, January 18th – 8:00 AM – High School Principal’s Coffee in the Counselling Area.   This week’s topic – 5 key skills for success in the 21st century.

Jan 16 to 26 – Exams.  Reminder – parents must submit the signed release form if students are to leave the school to study.  Parents will also be responsible for child pick up.  If we do not receive the release form, students will be placed in and in-school study hall.

On Sunday, February 5th we will be hosting an information session for Grade 8 and 10 parents.  Grade 8 parents will be in the Library and Grade 10 will be in 2200.

On Thursday, February 9th reports go home.

____

SAT prep – Wednesdays 3:30 – 6:00 for the May 6th exam 750AED  Started Jan 11th but it’s not too late to join.  If you are interested, please contact Ms. Raleigh-Carrera