Grand River Academy- March 2021
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Dear GrandRiver Academy Families,
Many of you have been helped by Pam Spitzer, the former Secretary to the Principal. Mrs. Spitzter retired in January. She was here at this school since its founding and knew the history of Grand River and had seen a lot of change in her time here. Mrs. Sptizer was a fixture at the front of the school and helped many students and parents to navigate attending Grand River. Mrs. Spitzter loves Grand River and that was shown every day she came to work. She was a friend to staff and she helped out teachers countless times as well. Mrs. Spitzter will be sorely missed.
Becky Wyatt, who was our registrar/attendance secretary, is filling Pam's position. Many of you know Mrs. Wyatt as well. Mrs. Wyatt comes to us with a wealth of experience, having been a principal's secretary in Alaska and D51. Mrs. Wyatt has already leaped into performing the secretary to the principal responsibilities. Kay Anderson, our former health assistant, will be filling Becky's former position as the registrar/attendance secretary. Kay comes with extensive secretarial experience and experience in D51 as an office substitute. Please join me in congratulating Mrs. Spitzer on this next phase in her life and welcoming Becky and Kay to their new roles.
We are coming up on testing "season." April is the month when we typically do all of our testing. Because we are a small school, we need to utilize all staff for some of the testing. This means that there will be some schedule changes in April:
- The week of March 29th, 3rd through 8th grades will be doing the Colorado Measure of Academic Success (CMAS) testing on their regular onsite day. Eighth grade will also attend Friday for CMAS Science testing. This gives eighth grade two days onsite this week. The high school will be in session this week. The learning lab will be open this week.
- The week of April 5th, makeups for the prior week's testing will be given on Monday. Third through 8th grades will be doing CMAS testing on their regular onsite day. Juniors will be taking CMAS Science only on Thursday, April 8th. Friday the 9th will be a makeup day for 6th-8th grade CMAS testing. Seniors will attend their onsite day this week. The learning lab will be open this week.
- The week of April 12th is PSAT/SAT testing for high school freshmen through Juniors and CMAS testing for 3rd through 5th grades. Seniors do not test. Third through 5th grades will test on their regular onsite day. Because SAT/PSAT can only be given on certain days, the onsite days for high school students during testing may be a different day than normal. Juniors will attend Tuesday, April 13th to take the SAT. Sophomores will attend Wednesday, April 14th (their regular day) to take PSAT. Freshmen will attend Thursday, April 15th to take PSAT. Middle school will not have their onsite day this week because we need middle and high school teachers to be able to test high school. Seniors do not attend this week either. Elementary will follow their regular schedule this week. The learning lab will be open this week.
- The week of April 19th, Juniors will makeup CMAS Science on Monday the 19th. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grades will finish CMAS on their regular onsite day. Fifth grade will complete CMAS science on their onsite day.
- Finally, the week of April 26th we will have mandatory SAT/PSAT makeup sessions for anyone that missed testing the week of April 12th. All grade levels will attend their regular onsite day this week. The learning lab will be open this week.
This is a lot of information. We will be sending out additional communication specific to your student's grade level as testing gets closer.
Why Does Standardized Testing Matter
Each spring, State assessments are given to student across Colorado. Below is information
provided by the Colorado Department of Education regarding these assessments. I hope
this information will address any questions you may have about the State’s assessments.
Colorado has a series of educational standards known as the Colorado Academic Standards
that outline academic objectives for students in every grade across 10 content areas. Fully
implemented in the 2020- 21 school year, the standards raised the bar for Colorado
students, increasing expectations so they are prepared to succeed in college or careers upon
high school graduation. To measure students’ mastery of more rigorous standards, Colorado
administers a set of common assessments known as the Colorado Measures of Academic
Success (CMAS) and PSAT/SAT. CMAS and PSAT/SAT are the only common
measuring tools for Colorado students.
Measuring real-world skills like problem-solving and critical thinking, the tests are
aligned to classroom work so teachers do not have to “teach to the test." Instruction based
on the standards is the best preparation. While state assessments are only one measure of
student learning, having all Colorado students take this set of assessments provides parents
with answers to these important questions:
• Did my child meet the state standards?
• How well is my child doing compared to other students?
• Which schools and districts perform best in preparing students for academic success?
• Which districts have the best performance on the state assessments for children with
Additionally, state assessment results provide:
• Information districts can use, in combination with other district information, to evaluate
• Information educators need to help improve instruction.
• Identification of districts and schools that have struggling students, so help can be
• Recognition of high performing systems so others may learn from them.
Parents are sometimes concerned that participating in these tests can cause anxiety
in their child or that preparing for the tests takes away time from instruction. Because
these tests are aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards and classroom
instruction, they should not cause any more anxiety than any other tests students take.
Also, practice items are available to help familiarize parents and students with test
content and structure. Since the full set of CMAS exams were first administered in the 2014-15 school year, the legislature and the State Board of Education have made several changes to decrease the number of tests students take and to shorten the tests.
• High school students no longer take CMAS ELA and math, and instead take the
PSAT and SAT college entrance assessments, which are also aligned to the Colorado
• CMAS social studies tests are given to only a third of students in fourth, seventh, and 11th grades.
• The State Board of Education and CDE are committed to continuing to look for ways to
provide test results to districts faster, and in 2019 individual student results were provided to
districts in June.
Hopefully this provided information to answer questions you may have about State testing.
You can always reach out to me as well.
I strongly urge you to have your student take the state assessment. If your family decides that your student isn't going to take the state's standardized assessments, this form needs to be completed.
Did you know that Grand River Academy's mascot is a raptor? Well it is and we have a new logo with our mascot. Student submitted entries and a committee selected the finalists. Students voted on the finalist they liked the best. The artist that drew our mascot is Mason Hatter who is currently a sophomore. Thank you to all of our artists who participated!
White Iced Teacher
Each year the District 51 Foundation honors a handful of teachers for their contributions to the profession. This award is called the White Iced award. This year Grand River Academy had one of our fabulous teachers recognized by the foundation. Amy Stocks was honored with this award. Amy is our school's progress monitor and she works hard to keep students learning and on track. She has also provided invaluable support to the district's D51 Online program by being there to support teachers and administration with different aspects of using our Odysseyware program. Congratulations Amy!
- We have Chromebooks available for checkout if you don't have a device.
- Parents, please monitor your student's progress.
- The Lunch Lizard will be providing free meals Tuesday-Thursday for students. The menu can be accessed using the MealViewer link below.
- The student body has decided to raise funds to purchase two metal sculptures of our mascot, the Raptor. Be looking for opportunities to help them out, if you are able.
- Continue to use the COVID tracker every day with each of your students.