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State transitions to Colorado Academic Standards

Theresa Hamilton
Re-2 News

There has been a lot of transition in Colorado Education over the last couple of years, and the 2013-14 school year marks the culmination of several different initiatives: Colorado Academic Standards, Educator Effectiveness Act and new TCAP assessments with the transition to PARCC assessments next year.

This week, I’d like to briefly explain the transition to the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS). The 2013-14 school year marks the first year of implementation for the Colorado Academic Standards — the expectations of what students need to know and be able to do at the end of each grade. They embody the 21st century skills, content and competencies that are the foundation of postsecondary and workforce readiness for Colorado students.

Currently, Colorado has standards in 10 subject areas including Colorado Arts – Music, Visual Arts, Theatre, Dance; Comprehensive Health and Physical Education; Mathematics; Reading, Writing and Communicating; Science; Social Studies; and World Languages. The standards for mathematics and reading, writing and communicating incorporate the Common Core State Standards while maintaining the unique aspects of the Colorado Academic Standards, including 21st century skills and prepared graduate competencies. The CAS is a broad outline of what students should know in order to be ready for college or a career by the time they graduate.

Parents may notice that their children are being asked to demonstrate proficiency on skills that their older students didn’t have to know at that grade level. This is due to the increased rigor and some content shifts in the new Colorado Academic Standards.

As you can imagine, making a transition to a new set of expectations for what students know and at what grade level requires a lot of time, effort and flexibility. To support our teachers in making this transition, the Colorado Department of Education has created Colorado’s District Sample Curriculum Project. In the fall of 2012, more than 500 educators, including several from Garfield Re-2, created almost 700 sample curriculum unit overviews. This fall, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is working with educators to create instructional units based on unit overviews created during the first phase of the project. Since making the decision last spring to adopt the Colorado Department of Education Sample Curriculum Units as the basis for our district’s curriculum, there has been a lot of work completed by teachers, principals and academic coaches to transform these units provided by the Colorado Department of Education into a classroom curriculum.

Teachers have been unpacking the units with a deep focus and reflecting on some of the following questions: what’s the big idea of the unit (understandings), what do students need to know (critical content), and what do students need to do (critical skills). In addition, teachers are brainstorming possible assessment ideas and tasks and aligning current district resources to the units.

Our district will continue to look for ways to support teachers through professional development opportunities around curriculum design. Instructional practices and assessment tasks for these units will be our continued focus. We also will continue to look for new resources that align with our curriculum. Garfield Re-2 thanks all of our teachers, academic coaches, principals and support staff for their hard work and dedication in this effort.

Harvest Days

More than 100 student, community and parent volunteers helped support the 15th annual Harvest Daze at Riverside Middle School on Oct. 31. Students from Rifle, Coal Ridge and Glenwood High Schools volunteered at the event, and community members showcased their talents and educated students. Students learned about electricity safety, hydro-electric power, blacksmithing, archery skills and seat-belt safety. Many of the stations focused on the New Castle area’s heritage. Students learned how to make butter and corn husk dolls, candles and apple cider using an apple press. Each grade level had stations that had a distinct math emphasis to help support the student’s understanding of math concepts they learn in their daily math classes.

Thank you to everyone who made the 15th annual Riverside Middle School Harvest Daze a success.

Thanks to the New Castle Garden Club

The New Castle Garden Club and the town of New Castle recently partnered with Kathryn Senor Elementary and provided some trees and shrubs for the corner of Alder and Castle Valley Boulevard. The Parent Teacher association was planning to purchase the landscaping, but the Garden Club was gracious and donated some trees that needed to be relocated.

The town of New Castle, the Garden Club, the Garfield Re-2 grounds crew and Shannon Murphy, a local landscape architect all contributed to the effort. Thank you to all who made this school improvement possible.

Board meeting

The next Garfield Re-2 Board meeting will be Nov. 12 at Rifle Middle School beginning at 5 p.m.

In two weeks, we will discuss a little about the changes to the Transitional Colorado Academic Assessments and the upcoming PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) assessments.

If you have questions about the content of this column or questions about Garfield School District Re-2, please contact Director of Districtwide Services Theresa Hamilton at 970-665-7621 or thamilton@garfieldre2.org.


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