Curricula, Instruction, Assessment

2015-2016 Semester Results

Dear Families,
Colorado’s new assessments for English Language Arts and mathematics were developed in collaboration with a consortium of states known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The PARCC-developed assessments are part of our state’s overall assessment system, called the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS). The new assessments are more focused on the knowledge and skills our kids need for success in an increasingly knowledge-based, global economy. This includes skills such as analytical thinking and the ability to solve complex problems. This is the second year our students have taken this assessment.

Below are all of the Valdez scores from last spring’s CMAS (PARCC) assessment.  These assessments are given to our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. They are divided into two categories:  Status Scores and Growth scores.

Status Scores:

Status scores are a raw score based on the number of points the student got correct on the test.  They are reported in 5 categories (did not meet, partially met, approached, met, and exceeded expectations) by percentage of students at each grade level in each content area below.  This past year, students took math and literacy (ELA) tests.  Twenty-six of our 3rd and 4th graders took the literacy test in Spanish (CSLA).  Their scores are reported in the box below the English literacy (ELA) scores.  We also had students take the math test in Spanish, but their scores are combined with the English scores in the math report.


Overall, Valdez did very well and we had increases in every content level and every grade level.  We have very few students in “did not meet” expectations and solid percentages in every grade level on every test in “exceeds” expectations.  This being said, we still have a large gap between our students who take the test in English and students who take the test in Spanish.  We have a large percentage of students in “approaching” in Spanish, which is great, but we are working hard to move them to meets and exceeds and move our did not yet meet and partially met students forward.

Growth Scores:

Growth scores measure the rate at which students are learning and growing in comparison to other like-abilitied peers statewide on the test. Using this growth percentile and is like comparing “apples to apples”, so the median growth takes into account how well each of our students grows each year. The state’s median growth percentile of 50 indicates one year’s worth of growth. Therefore, students, schools, and districts that have a percentile score higher than 50 are on average learning at a faster rate than their peers. Conversely, a percentile score lower than 50 are on average learning at a slower rate than their peers.

We get growth scores in 4th and 5th grades in ELA (English literacy) and mathetmatics.  This year, our growth scores were phenomenal! See graphic below indicating Escuela Valdez in “school” column.


To view our entire School Growth Report from CDE click here

In ELA (literacy) our combined score is 16th overall in the state, including middle and high schools.  We are the 5th highest elementary school in the state for ELA.  In math our combined score is 2nd overall in the state.  We have the highest math growth score in the state for an elementary schools (shared with one other school).  Way to go, Valdez!

State of the School Presentations:

Please take a few minutes to become acquainted with the State of the School Presentations. These include information from the 2015-2016 School Performance Framework (SPF) released by CDE to address school performance. I






Valdez offers a viable ECE-5 standards-based academic program that will be achieved with integrity and commitment to the mission, vision, and belief statements.  Our academic program will align around high standards for all students, our dual-language model, and Montessori in the ECE and Kindergarten.


In line with our dual-language program, there will be a strong focus on oral language development as a precursor to text-based literacy.  All students will begin receiving literacy instruction in their first language.  Literacy instruction in second language will start immediately for transferable skills and as soon as students are ready for non-transferable skills.  The daily 1st-5th literacy block will consist of a reading workshop, writing workshop, and a skills block.  Each block will utilize a workshop format composed of whole-group instruction through mini-lessons; small-group guided reading practice; independent work with student choice; and peer collaboration.  The five components of literacy (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency) will be integrated throughout instruction with individual instruction as needed.  The focus will be on communicating or gaining meaning in tasks that are authentic, and steeped in real reading and writing.  Skills that are needed to do that better, such as phonics or grammar, will be taught explicitly and applied to the authentic work.  Each portion of the literacy block will contain rituals and routines, artifacts, and best practice strategies.  At the end of each unit, opportunities to celebrate and share student products will occur.


Mathematics instruction will be rigorous and balanced and based on national math standards. The Everyday Mathematics curriculum emphasizes conceptual understanding, builds mastery of basic skills, and employs application of processes.   We differentiate math with rich, hands-on, problem-solving approaches.

Oral Language Development

Oral language is and will become more integrated into all content areas every day.  Research clearly shows that receptivity to and expression of oral language occurs in the first stages of language acquisition.  Oral language support and expression is therefore an essential component in a dual-language model.  We scaffold and expect students to learn oral language skills in the social realm as well as the academic realm of speech and vocabulary.  Speaking about academic content allows processing of the learning and deepens students’ understanding and ownership of the content.  Teachers strategically create a learning community so that all students feel supported in their first and second language.  Teachers model and provide multiple opportunities for students to talk about content. Students enjoy the opportunity to learn through talking and take responsibility to talk about the objective using the articulated communication skills.

Thematic instruction

Planning and teaching thematic units is central to our dual-language model.  Themes originate from the Science and Social Studies curricular topics and overlay with our literacy units and genres.  Themes will be authentic and engaging and include essential understandings and questions.  Teachers plan thematic units that last 6-8 weeks and that are designed to engage and involve students in their first and second languages.  Themes are integrated into Literacy and Math when appropriate.

Arts and Physical Education

All K-5 Valdez students will participate in P.E., Dance, Visual Art, and Music on a rotating daily basis.  All of the specials will be standards-based and offer hands-on opportunities for students to extend their core content knowledge.  Valdez maintains a staffed library/computer lab so that students have access to state of the art technology and media resources.

PARCC Assessment

PARCC/CMAS is the Colorado state test that meets the Federal testing mandates.  The PARCC test is a high quality, computer-based, 3rd-5th grade assessment.  It is designed to be used as a meaningful and relevant assessment and provide a reliable checkpoint that can show performance relative to the district and the state.  This test is a level of accountability for our staff and students.  Standardized testing is part of our current culture and required by legislation (SB-191).  Standardized tests have been a part of American education since the mid-1800s. Their use became prevalent after 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which mandated annual testing in all 50 states, inclusive of Colorado.

Our school philosophy is to drive towards achievements in testing through quality instruction, not just quality test-prep.   Our focus is on good instruction, teaching kids the critical thinking skills to be successful in life.  We trust our model and believe in a solid approach to teaching and a well-rounded preparation that will lead to great test results.  We teach a small piece of test prep as a genre and a necessary skill.  We focus on providing students the tools and skills needed to interact with the PARCC test successfully in order to show what they know.

It is important to note that test scores are designed as a point-in-time assessment.  They do not completely reflect who we are and what we do.  Standardized testing evaluates a student’s performance on one particular day and does not take into account external factors.  We appreciate the anxiety that standardized testing can cause, and therefore encourage students to do their best as well as celebrate students’ attendance and participation in the PARCC.

One way you can help your child be prepared for the test is to practice typing at home.  Here are some online typing games you can use:;;

FAQ’s on SECOND GRADE Assessment:
What assessments will your school be using for 2nd grade? 2nd Grade Interim Assessments, provided by ANet for literacy and math, as aligned to Common Core State Standards.

Will the assessments be administered online or with paper/pencil? The English version of these assessments will be administered online, while the Spanish version will be available in paper/pencil format.

How will you use the data from these assessments? The ANet literacy and math interim assessments are aligned to Escuela Valdez’s commitment to data driven and rigorous instruction in all grades, including 2nd.

When are your second grade assessment windows? 2nd grade will take the interim assessments in the middle of the year (early December), as well as at the end of the year (earl May).
Valdez is dedicated to maximizing the academic and social potential of all students so they may become self-confident, well-rounded, responsible and productive learners. Believing that each and every individual has merit, Valdez recognizes that certain learners within the school population have unique academic abilities, needs and potential. As a result, we differentiate instruction and curricula in response to individual strengths, styles, and interests.


Unified Improvement Plan (UIP)

The UIP is the state-mandated school plan which tracks our progress.