September 10th Community Check-In
Hollymead Elementary and Sutherland Middle School
Our first Community Check-In with Dr. Haas was a great success! We gathered on September 10th and had 14 people in attendance, all parents of students at Hollymead and Sutherland. The conversation flowed to several different topics and we had an opportunity to discuss each of them in detail in this informal setting.
To start, parents expressed that, so far, teachers at HES and SMS have been attentive and that the transition from elementary to middle school had been smooth from their perspective. We are so happy to have that positive feedback and strive to continue this year after year. Some parents were curious about how de-leveling classes (merging advanced-level and standard-level classes) would work—they wanted to know what evidence supports this practice. This opened up an interesting discussion on the national research that shows that students tend to improve as a whole when students are merged in this way and how de-leveling can help us address the achievement gap in our schools.
We talked about the possibility of new grading practices at ACPS. Some parents had been to the July forum with Ken O’Connor and wondered when and if we would implement the changes that he proposes, like making grades easier to understand and more effective at measuring achievement, growth and progress. We plan to start using some of his grading philosophy in our classes over the next few semesters and it was good to hear that parents are learning about that now.
We also received compliments on how we communicate with the ACPS community. It always helps to know when the things we do are working well for parents and students and we certainly hope to keep up the good work there. Having gatherings like these Community Check-Ins give us a window into what those things are—and what we can improve—from a different perspective, so we are very grateful to those who came and offered feedback. We hope to get as much participation in these gatherings as possible moving forward so that we can hear from everyone who is impacted by our schools.