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Students get preview of new state assessments

Theresa Hamilton
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Two weeks ago I explained a little about the new Colorado Academic Standards to which all school districts are transitioning this school year. This week, I am going to explain a little about the second big initiative that school districts are working through — new assessments.

This week, students in the Garfield School District Re-2 have a great opportunity to prepare for the new science and social studies state assessments coming our way in 2014. Students at Rifle and Coal Ridge high schools will take the draft science/social studies assessments on the computer. In essence, the experience this week will be a trial run of the questions and the format of the test, allowing reviewers to be sure that test questions are reliable and valid. Neither districts nor students that participate will receive scores, but the results will be used to identify good test questions, and throw out bad ones. It will also help Garfield Re-2 determine if we have all of the proper infrastructure in place as we transition to online testing.

The new science and social studies assessments are part of Colorado’s new Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments. But these tests are not the only changes coming for the 2014-15 school year. Colorado is part of a multi-state consortia developing English language arts and math assessments called PARCC — Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. These assessments will also be online and be ready for students during the 2014-15 school year.

Colorado is working closely with other PARCC states to develop the items and tasks for these assessments. Garfield Re-2 in particular, is well positioned as we begin the PARCC assessments because a team of district administrators is on the Colorado PARCC team. Garfield Re-2 is the only Western Slope school district represented as part of the state team. Assistant Superintendent Brad Ray, Director of Curriculum Larry Brady and Director of Assessment and Special Programs Julie Knowles participated in the process for the last several months. As part of the PARCC Colorado team, Garfield Re-2 has gained a deep understanding of the new assessments and their implementation, and the team will be available to assist other districts with the implementation.

The math assessments will be given to third- through 11th-graders, and the English language arts assessments will also be given to third- through 11th-graders. (Sample test questions can be found at http://www.parcconline.org/samples/item-task-prototypes) The new assessments will not only focus on knowledge, but also on application and critical thinking. In math, students will be asked to solve problems involving key knowledge and skills for their grade level based upon Colorado Academic Standards, express reasoning and construct a mathematical argument, and apply concepts to solve real world problems. In English language arts, students will be asked to analyze literature and write several pieces to demonstrate that they can read and understand complex texts, and communicate that knowledge by integrating, comparing and synthesizing ideas. The new assessments, will create new baseline data for all districts that will help determine the growth of our students and their understanding of the state standards.

Schools celebrate veterans

Several Garfield Re-2 schools held assemblies last week to honor local veterans. Rifle High School, Elk Creek Elementary and Riverside Middle School each held their celebrations on Nov. 11, while Coal Ridge High School and Kathryn Senor Elementary held theirs on Nov. 12. Musical performances, poetry readings and high praise were showered upon the more-than-100 veterans that attended these tributes. Thank you, veterans, for your service to our country!

American Education Week

Nov. 18-22 is American Education Week. This week presents all Americans with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. The weeklong celebration features a special observance for Parents Day on Nov. 19, Education Support Professionals on Nov. 20 and Substitute Educators on Nov. 22. Garfield Re-2 is proud of its exceptional parents, families, administrators, teachers, para-educators, secretaries, food service workers, custodial staff, maintenance and grounds crews, school nurses, computer technical staff, school transportation workers, school resource officers and substitute teachers. They work together daily to ensure that every student attends a great school. This cannot be accomplished without creating and maintaining schools as safe and supportive learning environments. Thank you to all who support the learning and education that happens in our schools every day!

Board awards

The Garfield School District Re-2 and Rifle Middle School are proud to announce the following individuals were recognized at the Nov. 12 school board meeting. Tracey Langhorne was recognized as the Volunteer of the Month; Grady Hazelton, owner of Wing Nutz restaurant in Rifle, was recognized as Business of the Month; and the Rifle Middle School team leaders including William Allen, Chris Miller, Amanda Stockton, Mimi Allen, Chris Bomba, Lindsay McLean and Kristi Slife.

Minutes from the meeting are posted at http://www.garfieldre2.org. The next regular board meeting will be Dec. 10 at Rifle High School beginning at 5 p.m.

Next time, we will learn more about the Educator Effectiveness Act. If you have questions about information contained within this column or about anything Garfield Re-2, please contact Theresa Hamilton at 970-665-7621.


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