Kindergarten Assessments ‘Jumpstart’ Students

AHPS Kindergarten Assessments Will Help ‘Jumpstart’ Students
Posted on 04/12/2024

Kindergarten students will work with teachers to learn more about their current skills and what they may need for instruction when they enter school on Aug. 14 at this special event.

While individual children work with teachers during this time, their caregivers will be provided supplies and support for learning at home through our new Jumpstart Cougar bags. These bags contain materials to help students expand their literacy, math and fine motor skills. AHPS staff members with expertise in reading and math as well as child development will meet individually with families to make sure they are familiar with items in the bag.


“Activities like playing with clay dough can really help kids prepare for activities like handwriting, something with which our students struggle at times,” said Jessica Fauber, one of AHPS’ Reading Specialists. “It’s not that every student needs to have perfect handwriting – but they need to be able to use pencils and crayons to build those imperative fine motor skills.”  


“We also want to emphasize the importance of talking with and reading to children.  Even simple conversations in the grocery store about the colors of items, or how many items are in a cart, can be very beneficial to children,” stated Lisa Boothe, another AHPS Reading Specialist.


 Heather Auvil, AHPS Math Coach, stated that “Expectations have really changed for Kindergartners, and our strategies of teaching math have transitioned more to hands-on learning. Therefore, it is critical that children have real life experiences to understand the concepts of mathematics.”


 The idea for Jumpstart Cougars bags emerged from the work of a variety of AHPS leaders participating in the Virginia Literacy Network, a multi-day professional learning event designed to help school districts implement the Virginia Literacy Act. The AHPS team includes Kim Halterman, Melinda Snead-Johnson, Sherman Callahan, Dr. Jason Conaway, Dwayne Ross, Boothe, and Fauber.  

The Virginia Literacy Act supports high-quality reading instruction based on current science.  The Act, also known as the VLA, supports systematic instruction in reading skills including phonics and the use of well-designed, high-quality materials that present reading skills in a specific order.


Many AHPS teachers have already been trained in updated teaching techniques that use current reading research.  These techniques “look different” from many techniques used in the teaching of reading within the past few decades, but they are not out of the ordinary for AHPS in the last couple of years as the division has been an “early adopter” of “science of reading” concepts.  For instance, many teachers in the primary grades have already been using evidence-based literacy instruction to teach systematic and explicit phonics. 

AHPS students are directly taught reading strategies with rigorous and engaging texts. The goal of AHPS is to have every student reading on grade level so students can become critical and analytical thinkers. 


“We have a good staff in place that works as a team, and we have the utmost confidence in the ability of our teachers and paraprofessionals to effectively implement the Virginia Literacy Act in our schools,” said Kim Halterman and Melinda Snead-Johnson, leaders of AHPS. “Our staff is very committed to our students, and we are truly fortunate.” 

Registering students for kindergarten is important for planning for the school year. Families wishing to enroll their kindergarten or preschool child for the 2024-2025 school year should contact the school their child would attend. School starts on Aug. 14.


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