Spring 2017 Head of School Highlight
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Spring 2017 Head of School Highlight

Hi everyone, Matt Arkin head of school for Georgia cyber Academy here. State testing time is almost upon us what I’d like to do is give you my tips for a successful week of state testing at GCA. Tip number one is to trust the process. There are an amazing amount of restrictions that are placed on us as a public school by the State Department of Education in how we can administer Milestones tests at GCA. Everything from the order of tests, when they’re administered, how long they take, when students are allowed to go, what they can bring into the test room, and on and on and on. Every year we have to get our detailed state testing plan approved by the state. It’s part of operating as a public school in Georgia. As such, I encourage you to trust the process and go with the flow. The good news at GCA as a virtual school is that we get 175 days of flexibility in return for five days of total rigidity in the state testing process. So listen to your site coordinator and trust the process. My next tip is to keep a positive attitude. State testing is not the point of GCA it’s just part of the school year. In my experience, students do the best when parents have a positive attitude about state testing. The state tests and the milestones at GCA aren’t anything to fear really they’re really a positive experience. If you have a positive attitude, students will do well with a positive attitude; parents be better with a positive attitude, and it will be a huge benefit for the teachers and site teams as well. The next tip is to plan ahead. For most of our students the state testing experience is a brand new one. They’ve never been to the test site before; getting there on Monday can be tricky. Free up your schedule to make sure you can pick up your student and wait a little extra longer if you need to. Drive by the test site; check out how traffic works around that same time you’re planning to go and that’ll make that monday morning experience: getting to the test site and having your student sit down for that first test that much less stressful. My next tip is to be flexible. There’s going to be some stressful situations at state testing. We have 60 different test sites around the state and every single staff member at GCA is out at the test site working hard to make that testing experience as smooth as possible for students. Even with that effort things are going to go wrong. When that happens, don’t get stressed out and don’t get angry if you see something going wrong. If something isn’t helpful, take advantage of the opportunity to volunteer. If you do that, it’s going to make that experience go a lot smoother for a lot of teachers and staff that are away from their homes and family during state testing also. My last tip is to take advantage of the GCA community. The GCA community is an amazing thing and state testing again is one of my favorite experiences to be able to get out in that community and see those GCA students interacting together. We have many students now, several I met at graduation last year who had become friends when they first met at state testing site back seven years before they actually graduated. So take advantage of the time at the test site to talk to other families. Have the students talk to other students; exchange email addresses; make friends, and you know make plans to meet up, or you can plan an event for the students and parents at the test site after state testing is done. Build that community and take ownership of it. I know I’m going to do my best as I’m driving around the state. Last year I managed to get to 30 different testing sites during the first week of testing. I’m not sure I’ll make it to that many this year; but i do hope to see you out at milestones testing very soon. Make it a great day and make it a great Milestones test at GCA everyone. Thanks so much!

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