Three Arlington Public Schools students have scored a perfect 36 on their ACT college entrance exams so far this year.
Two Yorktown High School students and one Washington-Lee student earned the perfect composite score, which only one in every 1,000 test-takers achieve, according to an ACT spokesman.
Among the APS students to score a 36 was Yorktown senior Megan Grieco. From a press release:
Megan Grieco, daughter of Michael Grieco and Lisa Campbell, and a senior at Yorktown High School, earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36. On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2016, only 2,235 out of nearly 2.1 million graduates who took the ACT earned a composite score of 36.
The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1-36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score.
In a letter to Ms. Grieco recognizing this exceptional achievement, ACT Chief Executive Officer Marten Roorda stated, “Your achievement on the ACT is significant and rare. While test scores are just one of multiple criteria that most colleges consider when making admission decisions, your exceptional ACT composite score should prove helpful as you pursue your education and career goals.”
ACT test scores are accepted by all major U.S. colleges. Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.
Hoax social media posts, often featuring images of sinister-looking clowns, have threatened schools across the country. Thus far the posts have led to numerous arrests of teens suspected of making the threats, but no reported violence.
Last night, two Instagram accounts — @virginiaclowns and @dmv_clowns — posted similar threats, warning of shootings at a number of area schools, including Kenmore, Gunston and Thomas Jefferson middle schools in Arlington.
The threats have prompted a stepped-up police presence at Arlington schools this morning.
“We are aware [of the threats] and were in contact with the Arlington Police Department staff last night when we saw the messages,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. “As a precaution, ACPD has had an increased presence at our schools this morning.”
Oakridge and Ashlawn elementary schools have adopted a reading-only homework policy this year, according to Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia. Another local school, Taylor Elementary, is currently piloting a similar program for second graders.
Under the new program, teachers will only assign occasional at-home reading. Students are graded not on homework, but on class participation and what they produce during the school day.
The policy is aimed at teaching students how to think critically and solve problems, said Oakridge principal Dr. Lynne Wright.
“We felt that when we used homework as a grade, it was inequitable because we couldn’t really determine how much of the assignment was done by the student or how much was done with editing, support and coaching,” Wright said.
But that doesn’t mean kids at those schools won’t learn how to be responsible after class, Wright said. Teachers will encourage students to learn practical tasks such as making their lunch for the next day or putting things away at home.
So far, Wright said there’s been little resistance from parents, partly because the new program didn’t come as a surprise. School officials spent the last year looking at research and talking it over at PTA meetings.
“The questions about responsibility and getting ready for middle school were the questions that came up the most,” Wright said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of pushback.”
In fact, many parents said they felt like homework took too much time away from interacting with their kids.
“They weren’t spending time talking to their children about their day or their friendships or the content they’d learned,” Wright said. “They were really just saying, get that worksheet done. They felt like they were putting all this energy into something that wasn’t impacting their learning or their creativity and problem solving.”
And how are students taking to the new policy?
“They were jumping for joy,” Wright said. “They feel relief. They’re happy. They’re proud. They feel like they’re developing their relationships.”
That’s the latest from APS, which reported today its average combined SAT score in 2016 fell 19 points, to 1,661. APS Students achieved an average combined score of 1,680 last year.
Despite the drop, however, the newest numbers still easily beat the Virginia average score of 1,535 and national average score of 1,484 in 2016. The latest average score also exceeds what APS students achieved in 2014 by eight points.
“Our students continue to have a proven track record of exceptional performance on the SAT that far exceeds their peers around the country,” Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said in a press release. “We are very proud of their success and their level of preparation for post-secondary opportunities.”
Year-over-year, mean APS SAT scores fell three points in reading, eight points in writing and seven points in math.
Additionally, “results for APS black and white students also exceed the peers in Virginia and the nation by large margins,” the school system noted in its release.
“I am grateful for the leadership of our principals and the support from our teachers and counselors who helped to prepare our students well to achieve these impressive results,” Murphy added. “Our congratulations go out to our students and their families for successfully completing this important step to achieving their post-secondary pursuits.”
One expected hot topic of conversation: whether parking for the school should be partially above ground or completely below ground.
From an APS email about the meeting:
APS wants to hear your input and questions related to the New Elementary School at the Jefferson Site. Planning is currently in the schematic design phase and a proposed design is expected to be submitted to the School Board in October. On September 13, 2016 APS will host a Community Forum beginning at 7 PM in the Thomas Jefferson Middle School Library. The purpose of the event is to inform the community of the planning progress made so far and to hear feedback from community members. The event will be an Open House format with materials on presentation boards. APS staff and consultants will be available to answer questions. Participates are welcome to come and go as they please.
Originally a number of community members fought against a new elementary school on the TJ site, but they only succeeded in delaying the project for a year before the County Board voted to approve it in December.
School administrators say they are “currently without air conditioning in the majority of our building.” The A/C troubles come as temperatures are expected to reach into the upper 90s today.
Separately, Taylor Elementary School is also reported to be experiencing air conditioning problems.
“There is an issue with the HVAC in three classrooms,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. “The problem is intermittent and right now it is on. Maintenance is looking into the problem and we are watching it closely.”
A parent tells us that her daughter’s kindergarten classroom, another classroom and the school’s gym are “a sweatbox.”
“My daughter was talking about fighting to sit by a fan,” the parent said.
The letter from school administrators to Gunston parents, after the jump.
(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) With the notable exception of Barcroft Elementary, which opened on Aug. 1, today was the first day of school for Arlington Public Schools students.
Kids and parents flocked back to local elementary, middle and high schools this morning, as the APS bus fleet traversed local roads. There were no major hiccups reported, save perhaps a fire alarm that was set off in the teacher’s lounge of Taylor Elementary around 10 a.m. (No smoke or fire was found.)
This morning at Abingdon Elementary, which is being renovated and expanded, students were greeted by a number of newly-installed relocatable classroom trailers on the field next to the school. Several Arlington County police officers were stationed at the intersection of 29th Street S. and S. Abingdon Street, to help keep cars moving amid a new traffic pattern for dropping off students.
At Carlin Springs Elementary, meanwhile, administrators literally rolled out a red carpet for new and returning students. At the new Arlington Tech, the program’s first 40 students arrived and began classes. At the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, upperclassmen formed tunnels for freshman students on their first day.
Arlington County Police and APS are urging drivers to be extra cautious on the roads as school gets back underway.
ACPD and APS officials, School Board members and school administrators were busy ringing in the first day of school on Twitter this morning. More back-to-school tweets, after the jump.
Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington County Police Department are reminding students, parents and drivers to watch out for one another on the roads as a new school year starts.
Yesterday APS released a new Public Service Announcement video, above, featuring Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Police Chief Jay Farr and School Resource Officer Supervisor Lt. Susan Noack.
Among other things, the video reminds parents to practice safe walking with their kids and reminds drivers that it’s never okay to pass a school bus with its stop arm out.
The first day of school for the vast majority of APS students is a week from today — Tuesday, Sept. 6. Barcroft Elementary Students, however, are already back at school; their first day was Aug. 1.
But there’s a big asterisk to that fact, says an APS spokesman.
As opposed to 2010, when all APS high schools were included in the top 500, for the past couple of years the school system hasn’t even applied to be ranked by Newsweek.
“Unlike the Niche, Great Schools and many other ‘school rankings; which are compiled by outside sources who access data from readily available sources like the VDOE and the US Department of Education, Newsweek is one of about a dozen or so rankings that ask school divisions to complete detailed forms and provide additional data to them,” said Frank Bellavia.
“As a result, for the past few years, APS (and many other school districts in Virginia and the U.S.) have chosen to not participate in the Newsweek list,” Bellavia said. “It is a time consuming endeavor that takes away time away from providing instructional and other supports to our students and families. Consequently, while interesting, the list is not scientifically valid since it does not report using data from all eligible school divisions.”
Bellavia said APS’ participation in the Newsweek rankings ended after 2010, when Newsweek was sold by its then-owner, the Washington Post.
“2010 was the last time Newsweek partnered with the Washington Post on the Challenge Index,” Bellavia said. “We continue to participate in the Post’s Challenge Index because it our local ‘hometown paper.'”
In the 2016 Challenge Index rankings, Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School was on the rise, ranking No. 5 in the D.C. area, while H-B Woodlawn, Yorktown and Wakefield were all down, ranking No. 8, 11 and 84 respectively.
A new county-owned synthetic turf field at Yorktown High School has been vandalized.
The $1.6 million turf replacement project just wrapped up last week. Over the weekend, a vandal or group of vandals spray-painted the field and the surrounding track and caused some other damage.
“At approximately 7:36 a.m. on August 7, police were dispatched to 2700 N. Greenbrier Street for the report of destruction and vandalism,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow.com via email. “An unknown subject(s) spray painted derogatory terms on the field, knocked over several trash cans and a portable restroom. The investigation is ongoing.”
The photos above, taken Monday afternoon, show the cleanup still in progress. Note that photo #3 contains an image that some may find offensive or not safe for work (NSFW).
The new turf of Patriot Nation. pic.twitter.com/bKAxwwfnMo
— Yorktown Athletics (@yhssports) August 5, 2016
Photos (top) by Jackie Friedman
Earlier this month, Arlington Public Schools relaunched its website with an updated design and new technology.
There are still some minor bugs evident — many older links to specific pages on the site are not working — but for the most part the transition appears to be complete.
Here’s what APS said about the relaunch, in a press release.
The multi-year redesign will relaunch the APS website with improved functionality and technological integration for the future.
After a rigorous search, APS selected local vendor Materiell to custom-build the new website using the WordPress platform, which was chosen for its adaptability to new technology, and its potential for future development as an open-source platform.
APS invited staff, families and the community to provide feedback in three rounds of user testing over the past year; the most recent was completed mid- April. Their comments and suggestions have been incorporated into the site functionality and design
When the site launches, it will feature:
- an intuitive user interface
- seamless integration with our back-end systems
- improved video and social media integration
- an elegant new design
Among other features, the APS homepage now includes academic highlights from the previous school year at the bottom of the page.
Arlington Public Schools high school students will have an early dismissal today, their last day of the school year.
The last day of school for APS middle school students is Thursday; it’s Friday for elementary students. All schools will have early dismissals on their last day.
(Barcroft elementary ends its school year early — it had its last day yesterday. Private, Arlington-based Bishop O’Connell High School had its last day of school on Friday, June 10.)
The graduation and celebration schedule for Arlington Public Schools is as follows.
- Wednesday: Williamsburg Middle School (8:15 a.m.), Gunston Middle School (8:30 a.m.), Kenmore Middle School (8:30 a.m.), Swanson Middle School (8:30 a.m.), Jefferson Middle School (9 a.m.), H-B Woodlawn (6:15 p.m.)
- Thursday: Washington-Lee High School (10 a.m.), Yorktown High School (3 p.m.), Wakefield High School (8 p.m.)
- Friday: Arlington Mill High School (9:30 a.m.), Langston High School Continuation Program (1 p.m.)
Students at Yorktown High School have released a petition seeking integrated recycling bins for the school’s hallways and classrooms.
Right now, the school uses a system of regular trash cans and blue recycling bins to sort its garbage.
“One would think that we already have an effective system as there are blue recycling bins in every single classroom,” said the petition. “However, these recycling bins are just treated as normal trash cans by a majority of students. This eliminates the whole purpose of the recycling bins and teaches students that the environment is not that important and can be overlooked or put aside.”
The new integrated recycling bins would streamline the recycling process into one large bin. One side is marked for recyclables such as paper, glass and plastic. The other side is labeled for landfill trash.
The petition has a goal of 1,000 signatures. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had received just over 150 signatures.
In a June 15 petition to the Arlington School Board, more than 330 Randolph parents, school employees and their supporters said they are “deeply concerned” about the panel’s decision to give principal Renee Bostick a new, unspecified role at Arlington Public Schools July 1. She has led the school at 1306 S. Quincy Street since 2004.
APS told the Randolph community her removal was due to “test scores,” but didn’t elaborate, according to the petition.
“The Randolph community is in total disarray,” the document says. “Students and staff are distraught. We have many unanswered questions, not least why a beloved, experienced, dedicated, and effective principal is being shown so little respect.”
In a letter he sent to the Randolph community today, APS superintendent Patrick Murphy didn’t address the petition, but he wrote that APS is slated to hold a meeting at the school with parents next Monday, June 27, at 7 p.m. to discuss the principal hiring process.
Interviews for Bostick’s successor are expected to begin in early July, Murphy wrote. By August, he anticipates the school board will appoint a new principal.
“We will keep you posted throughout the process and look forward to working with the Randolph community in the coming weeks,” Murphy wrote.
Photo via Arlington Public Schools
Letters were sent to parents of eligible students last week, asking them to “supervise and monitor your child while on the device” but also giving them the option of refusing the take-home iPad.
“The decision to allow students to take the APS issued iPads home over the summer is made individually by the administration at each school,” said Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia. “We are excited for the opportunity for our students to be able to extend their learning over the summer through access to high quality digital resources including curriculum specific tools as well as thousands of eBooks through the APS Library and Arlington Public Library systems.”
The letter sent to parents of Hoffman-Boston Elementary students, after the jump. A full list of the schools allowing take-home iPads was not immediately available.