News from the Middle for the week of November 27

Greetings to YOU, an awesome parent of an extraordinary UAS Middle School student!!! WOOHOOO!!

I want to thank those MS parents who were able to attend the parent/teacher conferences last week.  I hope you found our wonderful staff to be welcoming and friendly, and the dialogue to be rich and meaningful.  Thank you also for your patience and flexibility if you were unable to schedule a conference with a particular teacher.  Please feel free to email any teacher with whom you have not yet been able to establish face to face contact, and my amazing staff will be as accommodating as possible.  Please let me know if I can be of any service to you whatsoever in this regard.  Best of luck, and thanks again!

This is an exciting week at UAS and across the entire UAE, as National Day is fast approaching.  Festivities and celebrations will be in full swing throughout this week and there are several excellent events planned.  Please note the following activities as they pertain to your MS student, and to our entire community.

Sunday, November 27: (day 6)

  • Show your UAE Spirit Day!
    • Students are encouraged to wear colors from the UAE flag (red, green, black or white)
    • There will be a parade throughout the school sponsored by the Islamic Department starting in the Elementary School beginning @ 9 AM.

Monday, November 28: (day 7)

  • Flag Day
    • Groups are kindly asked to wear the following colors:
      • Grade 6 students should wear green
      • Grade 7 students should wear red, and
      • Grade 8 students should also wear red.
    • All students and staff will report to the pitch @ 8:30 to create one GIGANTIC UAE flag, and have our picture taken! WOOHOO!!
    • Immediately following the picture, all students and staff in grades 6-10 will report to the MPH for an assembly hosted by the Arabic Department. The scheduled start time is 9 AM.

Tuesday, November 29: (day 8)

  • National Day Festival and Celebration
    • Students are encouraged to wear UAE National Dress
    • There will be a carnival in the area between the main building and the cafeteria, with games, food, henna, and camels among the available stations. Students will need money to buy food and to participate in some of the games. The MS students are scheduled to join the festival from 2 to 3 PM.
    • In addition to the day time festival for students and staff, the Festival and Celebration will continue into the evening from 5 to 9 PM. Parents are cordially invited to bring their entire family to the evening festivities!  Please see the posters on display in UAS for more information.

Wednesday, November 30: (day 9)

  • Students are encouraged to wear colors of the UAE flag. We will have a normal schedule, with the usual dismissal time of 3:10.

Thursday, December 1: (day 10)

  • NO SCHOOL in honor of the UAE National Day, which of course is December 2.

I do hope our students enjoy the UAE National Day activities that have been planned.  It should be a great week of positively generating some UAE National pride and spirit!!!

That’s the news from your neighbors in the middle. Thank you for your attention to this information, and remember, Middle School matters!!  Until our paths cross again, please take good care and may peace be upon you.


Please note the upcoming important MS events:

  • November 27, 28, 29 & 30: UAE National Day festivities @ UAS
  • December 6: Technology Tuesday
  • December 12: NO SCHOOL: Prophet’s Birthday. The exact holiday will be announced by KHDA.  Please stay tuned.
  • December 15: ½ day of school – Last day before the Winter Break.  Noon dismissal
  • January 2: First school day in 2017!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Fall MAP Results Available on the Portal

Dear Universal American School Parents,

The Universal American School of Dubai uses the MAP standardized test for elementary, middle and high school students. UAS will administer the test three times during the academic year; once in the fall, once in the winter and once in the spring. The fall 2016 results are now available on the UAS portal for parents.

The tests help the UAS educational professionals determine your child’s instructional level and measure academic growth throughout the school year, and from year to year in the areas of reading, mathematics, science and language usage. A Normative Data chart is a part of your child’s scores, which shows the average (mean) RIT scores for your child, in comparison to the average for UAS students and all students who took the test worldwide.

A RIT score is a different type of measure than a typical test that provides a percentage correct. It is also different from many tests that provide results based on your child’s score compared to others in his or her grade (a percentile ranking). Instead, the RIT score is an equal-interval scale, like feet and inches, which is independent of grade level. MAP is not a class ranking system as the tests focus on individual student learning growth.

You can find out more about the MAP tests and how to read the results from the following presentation:

MAP Parent Presentation Link:

MAP Report

Sample MAP Report and Key

In some cases a student’s RIT score may have gone down or their growth may be in the negative range from spring to fall testing. If this happened with your child, please do not panic as this is a single snapshot of the child’s progress and cannot be considered as an indication of a lack of learning. Our guide here is the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), which states, “Each assessment is only a snapshot at a single point in time. Negative growth does not necessarily mean a student is not learning, or that classroom instruction has not been effective, or that NWEA data is not reliable. Rather, negative growth allows for additional opportunities to change the way we discuss our students’ learning. Instead of ignoring these instances as anomalies or assigning blame for their results, we should recognize negative growth as an important element in the culture of data driven instruction. Simply put, for unexplained reasons student scores sometimes fall.”

As UAS continues to develop our data driven instructional practices, we believe we can address these anomalies while at the same time meet the needs of the students whose learning challenges may not have been detected before with our old tests. It is our intention at UAS to continue to administer the MAP test and look for trends that can be examined and determined.

Universal American School has put together a website on each of the divisional blogs that will give you information on the MAP test, on reading your child’s test results, and answers most questions you may have concerning MAP testing and test results. Links to other resources for parents are also available on this site. Additional information is also available from Northwest Evaluation Association at

The UAS Administrative Team

Parent/Teacher Conferences and Quarter 1 Report Cards!

Greetings to you from the glorious confines of the UAS Middle School!!!!  WOOHOO!!!

I am happy to share the following important information with you regarding the annual Parent/Student/Teacher conferences, and the first quarter report cards which were released on Thursday, November 17.

Quarter 1 Report Cards:

  • The grading scale is a leveled system extending from 7 to 1, and is based on a rubric scoring model, with a 7 being the highest attainable level. This is the same grading matrix used within the IB program in the High School.
  • The UAS Middle School is not using a Grade Point Average system this year. We believe the goal for “grading” should focus on what students know and are able to do or demonstrate.

Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences:

  • The UAS Portal system was opened last week for parents to register to meet with teachers during this batch of conferences.
  • The parent/student conferences will be held on Wednesday, November 23 from 1 to 6 PM, and on Thursday, November 24 from 8 AM to 12 PM.
  • Each conference will last 10 minutes and be conducted within each teacher’s classroom
  • We strongly encourage you to bring your student(s) to these meaningful conversations, as it is our goal to host “student involved conferences”. Because the discussions are about the students, we believe student participation is crucial in order for the students to achieve academic improvement and success.
  • Please keep in mind that each of the MS core teachers has approximately 100 students. With the scheduled breaks the teachers need during the conferences, there are only 48 time slots available for each teacher to host a conference. As a result, if you have recently held a conference with a particular teacher, you are kindly asked to consider scheduling a meeting with that teacher at a later date to address questions or concerns.  Your cooperation would be appreciated. If you are unable to schedule a conference during this time frame, you are welcome to email the teacher directly and schedule an appointment at a time after November 24 that is convenient for you and the teacher.

I genuinely look forward to meeting and greeting you during this year’s annual parent(student)/teacher conferences. If you have any questions, please feel to stop by the MS office and let’s have a chat!

That’s the news from your neighbors in the middle. Thank you for your attention, and remember, Middle School matters!!  Until our paths cross this week, please take good care.


Please note the upcoming important MS events:

  • November 23 & 24: Fall parent/teacher conferences
  • November 27, 28, 29 & 30: UAE National Day festivities @ UAS
  • December 6: Technology Tuesday
  • December 15: ½ day of school – Last school day before the Winter Break.  Noon dismissal
  • January 2: First school day in 2017!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Jr. Scorpion Track & Field

Junior Scorpion Track & Field is ready to begin. It is a great way for our young UAS athletes to run, jump and throw their way to personal success. The season will begin on Sunday November 27th. Pratices are Sunday and Wednesday from 3:20 – 4:20pm.

To find out the details for the activity please CLICK HERE to access the Junior Scorpions page. Please read the information letter and register your child if you wish for them to participate. There are limited spaces for this activity.

MS Homecoming Social – BIG Success

On Thursday, November 3rd, the Middle School Student Council put on UAS’s very first Middle School Homecoming Social! So much hard work, time, and effort was put into this event by our amazing student council members and it definitely paid off, as the middle school students had a great time. Some of the activities included a photo booth, pinatas, pin the tie on Mr. Hould and Kumu Tseshani, ping pong, and of course the throw-a-pie-at-your-teacher activity – an activity that helped raise awareness and support for our Million Solar Stars program aimed to help impoverished African villages access and use solar electricity. Considering this was the very first time UAS has ever had such an event in the middle school, we are proud to say that it was a success, as indicated by the students’ smiles, laughter, and positive energy. A big thank you goes to the student council members for their commitment and dedication shown throughout the event and helping to bring our wonderful UAS middle school community together.

Please enjoy a few photos from our FUN evening of celebration.

Parent Conference Signup is now Available on the Portal

You are invited to sign up for Parent Teacher Conferences on the UAS Portal. Attached below are instructions to help you through the process. You can make appointments with your child’s/children’s teachers via the Portal. The conferences are scheduled for 23-24 November. The booking system will close on the 22 November (10:00am). Please note that on Wednesday 23 November, students have a half day of classes. Classes will finish at 12:00pm. Conferences will go from 1:00-6:00pm. On Thursday 24 November there are no classes and conferences will be from 8:00am to 12:00pm.

For instructions on how to book conference appointments please open the document below:

MS and HS Counselor’s Coffee – Thursday November 17

Dear Parents,

We are pleased to invite you to a joint middle school/ high school Counselor’s Coffee. Dr. Saliha Afridi from The Lighthouse Center for Wellbeing will be giving a presentation on anxiety, signs of anxiety and how to parent a child who is experiencing anxiety.

As a school, we are seeing more and more students who experience generalized anxiety and we would like to provide parents with the tools to identify, understand and support their children. We will be meeting in the Secondary Library from 8-10am on Thursday November 17th. If you would like to know more about The Lighthouse Center for Wellbeing before the meeting, please go to their website.

If you would like to attend please click here to reserve your place.

We hope to see you on Thursday!

Mark Gaffney and Kara Haines

School Photos – Next Week

Dear Parents,

Please note that the school photos (individual & group) will be taken next week November 13- November 17.

Elementary School: November 13 & 14
High School: November 15 & 16
Middle School: November 16 & 17

All students should wear their school uniforms (white polo shirt) for the pictures. If they have PE, they usually change into their PE uniforms during their scheduled PE class.

Please see the attached instructions for ordering and payment.

Best Regards,

UAS Administration Office

Parent Coffee Canceled AND The MS Summative Assessment Policy

Greetings to you this fine day from the A-MA-ZING UAS Middle School!  WOOHOO!!

  • Please note that due to circumstances beyond my control, the Principal Coffee that was previously scheduled for Monday, November 7 has been canceled for November.

The teaching staff and leadership team of the UAS Middle School has endeavored to create the policies and practices we feel best hold our students accountable for their actions, while helping them learn to become independent learners. During our 5 quarters of existence as a Middle School, we have adopted a wide variety of policies that we believe provide our students with the best opportunities to be successful.  The most recent MS policy addition is a Summative Assessment Policy, which was formalized at our most recent MS staff meeting.  The policy, with some explanation for our parent audience, reads as follows:

UAS Middle School Summative Assessment Policy

First of all please note that this policy only addresses summative assessment.  This policy does not address the daily formative assessments that help inform instruction within the classroom.

Students are expected to complete all summative assessments on time as prescribed by the classroom teacher. Any summative assessment not completed and submitted on time will be recorded in the grade book as “Incomplete” (I). The theory being: how can a teacher provide constructive feedback to help inform student learning, if the student has not produced any evidence they have learned? From a grade standpoint: how can a teacher assign a grade for a piece of work the student has not completed?  Please note that our grading scale reports scores from level 1 to 7, and it does not include a “0”. The simple fact is this: We expect all students to complete all of their work, in order to provide meaningful feedback which will help inform and support their individual growth.

Students who do not complete a summative assessment on time will be expected to attend a compulsory “Summative Assessment Completion Session (SACS)” during their lunch break until the summative assessment has been successfully completed.  The assessment must be completed in the presence of a teacher.  The theory being: students must be held accountable to show evidence of their own learning, and the only way to accomplish that goal is to complete tasks while at school in the presence of a teacher.  The classroom teacher will make the final decision as to how many SAC’s the student must attend in order to effectively complete the assessment. If the summative assessment is not completed during the SACS, the parent will be contacted and the student will be expected to complete the assessment in the presence of a teacher in the MS After School Learning Center (ASLC).

We are in the process of creating the MS ALSC.  One of our Grade Level Team Leaders will supervise this after school program Sunday through Thursday, excluding Tuesday.  It is important to note that any student who is assigned to the ASLC will lose their privilege to participate in all extra-curricular activities until the assessment is completed. Let me repeat:  We expect all students to complete all of their assessments without exception. The ASLC is simply a quiet and structured place for students to complete assessments, projects and/or assignments with the supervision and support of a teacher.

In regard to the end of the quarter: the expectation is that students must complete all summative asssessments by 7:45 AM on the last day of the quarter. Any summative assessment that is not completed by 7:45 AM on the last day of the quarter will earn the mark of “Incomplete” (I) for that class on the student report card.  Remember that the lowest mark a student can earn on their report card is a level “1”.

You might be asking yourself: what happens to that “I” on the report card? Any summative assessment completed beyond the Synergetic deadline in the company of a teacher will be accepted and graded.  While the assessment will be graded, it will not change the incomplete or “I” status of any quarter grade on the report card.  That said, the graded summative assessment will however be used to determine the end of the year cumulative grade.  One final time:  We expect all students to complete all of their assessments – period.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this, or any other of the MS policies, please feel free to contact the MS office at your convenience and schedule an appointment with either of the Middle School Principals.  I look forward to crossing your path in the very near future.  Until then, please take good care and remember: Middle School matters!


Please note the upcoming important MS events:

  • November 7: MS Principal Coffee has been canceled for November
  • November 10: NO school for students – Professional Development for staff
  • November 17: Student report cards are available on the Portal
  • November 23 & 24: Fall parent/teacher conferences – more information regarding conference registration will be made available soon. Please stay tuned