Cascade Heights Public Charter School


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Falcon Flash: Week of Sept. 18, 2014

18 September 2014 Written by  

In this issue: Health Alert / Office Volunteers / Assessments FAQ / Welcome New Families / Book Fair / Picture Makeups / VIP Day / Birthday Fun-draiser / Busy October

Letter from the Front

Dear Falcon Families,

Last week, I talked about how individual choice in books can encourage a love of reading. Of course, libraries are the biggest resource for reading material and ours is currently in a sad state. Since it is a budget issue, Melissa Maquire (Cameron- K, and Madison- 4th) has set up a GoFundMe campaign for us. Please help us and our committed library volunteers reach our goal of $5000. The funds raised will pay for a part time librarian for the year and a check out system so we can get our library up and running. Spread the link far and wide: Every little bit makes a difference and you never know who might be willing to drop a few (or more!) dollars in the bucket. The children deserve a library. Thank you!

There are many exciting events in store for October: Book Fair, Jog-a-thon, Harvest Festival, Parent/Teacher Conferences and our first Field Trip Friday! Also on the agenda for October is Fall MAP. Assessments for our students come in two forms: Measures of Academic Progress™ (MAP) and state benchmark testing. This year, state testing will include the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s summative assessments for Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts. (Science will still be tested using OAKS.)

During the month of October, 2014 (September for Kindergarten), all children will take MAP in Reading, Language Usage and Mathematics. Grades 2 - 8 also take the Science assessment. Students will take these assessments now and again in May. This yields two data points which allows for measuring growth through the course of the year and from year to year.

State benchmark testing is scheduled for the month of April. Smarter Balanced tests in Reading and Math are administered to all students in Grades 3rd - 8th, and Science OAKS to 5th and 8th grade only. Later in this newsletter are some FAQ regarding assessments at CHPCS. Watch classroom newsletters or blogs for information on when your children are scheduled for MAP.


Holly Denman




Smoke and ash from area wildfires have affected the Portland area and, last week, had led the Department of Environmental Quality to downgrade the area’s air quality from good to moderate. Further south the air was considered unhealthy.

Here are some tips on limiting exposure to polluted air.

  • Lower the amount of time you spend outdoors
  • If you have an air conditioner, set it to recirculate air inside
  • Do not engage in rigorous outdoor activities
  • Limit indoor pollutants like cigarette, candles and gas stoves
  • If you see flames, call 911

Note: If you have a child with any respiratory concerns, they may be more strongly affected. Any child with asthma or other respiratory concerns should have an action plan on file with the school. The form is available in the office or at




We need volunteers to help cover the front office! The ideal would be to have someone here for a half day, each day of the week. This could be several people sharing the shifts or one person who just loves to be here every day.

Grateful thanks to Mrs. Elkins (grandma of Samantha and Jackson), Mrs. Wrenn (Katherine and Drew) and Mrs. Dodson (Kate and Rachel) who were our office angels last year. We would not have survived without them!

Duties are:

  • Answering the phone and taking messages
  • Answering the door and directing visitors
  • Applying ice packs and taking head injury/accident reports
  • Helping children call home
  • Receiving packages and mail
  • Filing, shredding and small office or teacher projects (when the door and phone don't keep you too busy)
  • Late arrival slips and helping families sign in and out

Applicant must:


If you can help this year, we would be very, very grateful.




So many of you are “old hands” here at Cascade Heights, it is easy to forget that every year some new families join our Falcon community and not just in Kindergarten. If you see a new face, take a moment to introduce yourself and make them feel at home. And to those of you who just joined our adventure, welcome! We are so glad you are here.




If your children were absent on the day their classes were scheduled for pictures, there will be a makeup photo session on Tuesday, September 23 at 8:00 am. Even if you do not wish to purchase a photo package, all students get their picture taken for student ID cards and inclusion in the Year Book.




Very Important Person Day is on Thursday, September 25 from 8 to 9:30. This is an opportunity for your children to invite grandparents, aunts and uncles or any other special adults in their lives to visit their school. There will be a short presentation, a classroom activity and light refreshments. 

Note: Handicap access is through the breezeway doors facing the paved parking lot. Come early for good parking!



The Birthday Fun-draiser is back!!!

We are inviting all children born in September to celebrate their birthday with us on September 25th from 3:45-4:45pm.

The Birthday Fun-draiser is a way for children and families to redirect funds that would normally be spent for birthday celebrations into a donation to the school. Guests donate money they would have spent on a birthday present to the school as well. The birthday child has the option to designate where the funds will go. The child will receive a certificate, 2 free classes from one of the after school program choices and lunch with Mrs. Denman or his/her favorite teacher.

Guidelines are as follows:

  • All members of the birthday child's class are invited.
  • The birthday child may invite friends and family from outside the school.
  • Parents will provide invitations and any food and drink they want served.
  • Parents will be present to celebrate and help supervise.
  • The Birthday team with the help of parents will organize, set up, and clean up after the event.

Please, contact Iwona Erbe This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Serene Perkins This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.




Book Fair: Monday October 6 to Thursday, October 9

(Please note that the opening date reported for the Book Fair in last week's Falcon Flash was incorrect.)

At the Book Fair you will find titles that will appeal to children of all ages and interests, as well as books for parents. Teachers will have “wish lists” if you would like to contribute to their classroom libraries. Purchases made through our in school or online Book Fair earn free books for our school library. Please join this fun, family event. Watch for more details on the schedule for the Fair here at school and how to access the online store.

8th Annual PTA Jog-a-thon: Thursday, October 9

It's time to begin collecting pledges for the Jog-a-thon! Each student should have brought home a bright blue pledge sheet. If you can't find yours, extras are on the table by the office. This event is the PTA’s primary fundraiser and we hope to have every family participate! Our first Jog-a-thon was held in 2007 and has been a greater success with each passing year thanks to the participation and dedication of students and parents. Thank you all for your hard work. Let’s all get together to make our eighth one the best yet!

9th Annual CHPCS Harvest Festival: Thursday, October 16, 6:30 to 7:30 pm (or until dusk, which ever comes first)

The Harvest Festival is a chance for Falcon families and friends to get together and celebrate the turning of the season with music, games, and a baking contest. Games and activities such as hay rides, pumpkin ring toss, face painting, tug-o-war, and needle in a haystack will entertain both young and old. The baking contest is open to all adult/child pairs. Come join us for a fun filled evening of free family frivolity!

First Field Trip Friday of the Year: Friday, October 24

Field trips are an essential component of instruction at Cascade Heights Public Charter School.  As a sensory immersion school, Cascade Heights depends on the wider community to provide opportunities for experiential, focused learning related to the wider curriculum.  Visiting experts, experiencing content outside of school, and making broader connections enables students to get excited, broaden their horizons, and gain perspective in their studies.

Parent and grandparent volunteers are a valued and necessary part of the success of our field trips; adult volunteers are what make field trips happen and we are not always able to get busses. Please contact your child’s teacher if you are interested in being a field trip chaperone or driver.




Q: Why do we administer MAP when we are already required to administer Smarter Balanced?

The state’s battery of benchmark tests, Smarter Balanced and OAKS, tells us whether students have made progress toward mastery of state content standards. MAP serves a different purpose. It is a measure of what your child knows and is ready to learn.

State tests measure progress towards meeting grade level benchmarks based on percentage correct and your child’s score compared to others in the same grade. MAP results are reported in Rasch Unit (RIT) scores, which is an equal-interval scale, like feet and inches, that is independent of grade level. The RIT Scale is a curriculum scale that uses individual item difficulty values to estimate student achievement and has the same meaning regardless of grade or age of the student.

RIT scores and NWEA’s stable norms are going to be even more crucial to documenting your child’s academic growth as Oregon transitions from prior standards and OAKS tests to the new Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts and the companion tests developed by Smarter Balanced. Not only are the benchmarks being revised, but the norms based on the old standards will not be applicable and so this transition will create a break in longitudinal data. By contrast, the RIT scale is stable and the NWEA norms based on them are reliable, so there is no break in NWEA based data.

Q: How are Smarter Balanced and MAP different?

MAP assessments are unique in that they adapt to be appropriate for your child’s level of learning. MAP measures academic growth throughout the school year, and from year to year. It is a tool that can be used to improve student learning by teachers, students and parents. Teachers use it to inform instruction, students use it for goal setting, and parents use it to get a clear picture of student growth and how to support their children’s learning.

On the other hand, state tests are not adaptive. Results will indicate if a child has not met, met, or exceeded state benchmarks. Their primary use, however, is to provide aggregated data for districts, schools, teachers, and demographic groups used for school accountability purposes. The tests start in 3rd grade and give no information in the crucial early learning years. They are administered once at the end of the year after instruction is complete. They do not measure above or below grade level. Nor do the scores pinpoint what children already know or what they are ready to learn next.

Q: How can we find out more about the new Smarter Balanced assessments?

There is a lot of information available online. A good place to start is The Oregon Department of Education also has resources (in both English and Spanish) at

Q: How can we find out more about MAP?

There are several resources attached. After fall MAP assessments are complete, your child’s report will be available at your Parent/Teacher conference.

Q: How can we help at home?

Partnering to help all children learn, parents and teachers have a profound positive effect on the lives of children. We are truly excited to be able to use MAP to focus on every child’s individual growth and achievement. For more information and resources for parents, open the Parent Toolkit (also available in Spanish) and the Strategies Packet. You can also help by making sure your child gets a good night’s rest and eats a healthy breakfast not only on assessment days, but always. And of course read, read, read!

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Interested in volunteer opportunities? Click here! Or contact the volunteer coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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