Countdown to Day One…

Meet the Teacher Night is one Westside tradition to kick-off the school year! Teachers anxiously await their new kiddos and enjoy visits from their former students; parents are excited; and students have a wide range of emotions! I always enjoy this night because the empty building of the summer is once again full. The laughter, eager faces, and energy of a school is what continues to motivate me after over 20 years in education. The students give me life (as the kids say)!

At the end of Meet the Teacher Night, our middle grades families gathered in the media center. Ms. Goodson (Dean of Middle Grades) began the meeting as I finished up “goodbyes” with our younger students. When I walked into the media center, I was completely overwhelmed and almost burst into tears of joy! Running a school is not always easy. Growing a school can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task! There’s tons of planning, second-guessing decisions, and just plain exhaustion. My “internal” tears were me exhaling đŸ™‚ . We’re here. We’ve made it. We did more than survive. Our students are thriving. Our families are connected. Our staff is ready, committed, and strong!

As a public school, we participate in the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS) at the end of each school year in grades 3-8. Throughout the school year, we use the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP Assessment) to utilize realtime data on how our students are performing against themselves, their Westside counterparts, and in comparison with students of similar demographics (grade level, age) throughout the country. Not all schools in Georgia or Atlanta use this assessment. So when it comes to the Milestones data, we utilize it to see how we’re fairing with other schools in Georgia and Atlanta as well as identifying any disparities between what the MAP data may not provide.

Below are various graphs from the last school year as well as over time (since 2015).

Grades 3-5, performance in English & Math, in comparison to school’s challenge index.
Grades 6-7, performance in English & Math, in comparison to school’s challenge index. The challenge index for our middle grades students was approximately 25% higher than grades 3-5.
Trend data, by grade level and subject, 2015-2019
3rd grade performance, English and Math, all APS elementary comparison, developing and above

If we were all gathered together, I’d ask, “thoughts?” “what do you notice?” and allow for an appropriate amount of wait time :-). In the words of the late educational expert Rita Pearson, “we are on the road”. In just under 7 years, we have been able to create a warm and rigorous school culture that is living out the vision of the individuals who first thought this type of innovation was possible. They (along with many of you) believed that there could be a diverse school community that erased educational disparities and here we are!

The third grade data is an important indicator for a number of reasons. It is the key predictor to future academic success (see Campaign for Grade Level Reading). It is also a key indicator to the foundation that is built in our early years programming at Westside (kindergarten-second grade). The linked document below includes additional school-wide data. There’s a lot to celebrate! We are also able to clearly see where our opportunities for growth lie. Our team is continually working to ensure your family will continue to CHOOSE Westside for your children’s kindergarten through eight grade education experience!

Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year! We are ready to make it our best year yet.

Do you see the backs of their shirts?! Westside is definitely the Best Side :-)! #wereready #dayoneherewecome

Stay tuned for follow-up from our strategic planning process that began in the spring.

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