Cascade Heights Public Charter School


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Falcon Flash: Week of Jan. 22, 2015

22 January 2015 Written by  

In this issue: Science Fair / Spring Auction / Family Dinner Night / Food Drive / Car Line Safety / Battle Of The Books / Welcome New Students / Meet Miss Tina

Dear Falcon Families,

As you may know, Oregon has adopted a new set of educational standards for mathematics and language arts known as Common Core State Standards (CCSS). With them come a new set of state benchmark tests called "Smarter Balanced." For these new tests, the scores considered "proficient" have been raised. This spring will be the first year that Oregon requires children in 3rd through 8th grade to take the new tests. We know that some families are feeling anxiety about how their children will be affected.

The first shock will likely hit when student results are released sometime in August, 2015 and scores drop dramatically. Oregon is expecting only about one third of students to meet the new benchmarks and it will appear that schools are performing worse or that students are learning less. Now that the target that has been moved, there will be immense pressure on schools and students to meet the higher expectations. Students at Cascade Heights have traditionally performed above norms on state benchmark tests, but we expect our scores will drop as well. So, what are we going to do about it?

We are fortunate in that our school started reviewing the requirements of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) when they were first released. We did not wait until Oregon adopted the new standards or started testing for them. What we found is that CCSS is fully covered by our content-rich curriculum (i.e. Core Knowledge, Saxon, Riggs, IEW), and our pedagogy (project based, multi-sensory, rigorous instruction that requires critical thinking skills, real world application, and problem solving skills). We also opted in for the Common Core aligned MAP assessments as soon as they were available. So what more can we do?

We will do more — more of all the instructional approaches that are research based, standards based, offer a global perspective, and inspire the growth of the whole child. What are we not going to do? We are not going to start teaching to the test. Teaching to the test may serve someone, but it never serves our children. Ever.

Since the passing of the Federal "No Child Left Behind" Act (NCLB) in 2001, there is NO evidence that annual testing has narrowed the achievement gap, even though that was the rhetoric given to justify the sweeping measures of NCLB. What we do see is that when testing is linked with punitive consequences, school systems will inevitably develop strategies that achieve the goal (better test scores) even if it is not in the best interests of the children those school systems are supposed to serve. Test prep works and curriculum can be found that will teach to the test, but the result is an overall deterioration of our children's education.

Narrowing the focus on reading and arithmetic skills to the point of cutting the arts, physical education, etc., throws education out of balance. Children are forced to sit too long, and are deprived of the opportunity for real physical activity both at school and at home when homework squeezes out free time. Children's creativity and full brain development are stifled when deprived of the stimulation and challenge that a well rounded program offers. When we cease to keep the whole child in view, the result is not only a decline in true academic achievement but also in children's health, sensory development and behavioral maturity.

Interestingly, this comes when data is surfacing about how unreliable test scores are at indicating who needs remediation, or predicting post-secondary success, and when many colleges are beginning to no longer rely on or even require standardized test scores.

So back to the question: what are we going to do? We are going to stay the course and not emphasize a few subjects, as important as there are, to the detriment of the young people we serve. We will not sacrifice daily PE, World Languages, the Arts, our project based, multisensory instruction or any part of our unique model that contributes to the growth of the whole child. We will continue to strive to fulfill our mission and vision with fidelity and integrity. We know, and you know, that this is the approach that is in the best interests of the children entrusted to us. And that is why we will never "teach to the test."


Holly Denman,
Founding Director


Cascade Heights' Annual Science Fair is here!

Science Fair Open House Thursday, Jan. 22

All Science Fair projects will be on display this afternoon, Thursday, January 22 from 3:45 to 5:30 pm. This is a chance for parents and students to see everyone's fantastic projects. Please stop by; you'll be impressed with the quality of work. Note that the fair is closed to teachers, parents or guests on the day of the fair.

Science Fair Judging Friday, Jan. 23

Tomorrow, Friday, January 23, Grades 5-8 will be on campus for regular school day hours to present their projects to our judges. Please note the fair is closed to teachers, parents or guests and only judges and participating students will have access. Contact Mrs. Hans with any questions: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Awards Ceremony on Monday, Jan. 26

Science Fair awards will be presented at a special All School Assembly on Monday, January 26 at 8 a.m. Families are welcome to attend.




The primary fundraiser for the 2014/15 school year is a Fundraising Dinner and Auction on Saturday, May 9, 2015.

Many hands make light work and it's not too early to start! We need every family to be part of this great event, both by helping to solicit donations, attending the event, and inviting guests. More information and downloadable documents, including sample solicitation letters, can be found here.

If you have questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or attend the upcoming PTA meeting on Wednesday, February 11 at 6:30 p.m.

Thank you for making our auction a success!
CHPCS Auction Committee and PTA




An 8th Grade Fundraiser

On Thursday, February 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. you are invited to come and be served by our great group of 8th graders to help them raise money for their end of the year trip. They are going to Ashland, where they will tour a college campus and see some Shakespeare plays!!

Don't forget to invite ALL of your friends and family. The class will receive 10% of total sales!!!

It will be a fun evening. Can't wait to see you there!! The restaurant is located at: 19119 SE McLoughlin Blvd, Milwaukie, Oregon. Contact Mrs. Wrenn for more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Seventh grade is challenging the school to a food drive to benefit the Oregon Food Bank. The class that brings in the most food will be awarded the "Food Drive Trophy"!

Please send contributions of non perishable foods (see list below) any time between now and February 4th. Seventh grade will take our collection with them on their field trip to the Oregon Food Bank.

Seventh graders will visit classrooms every morning to collect items. If families have a particularly large donation they are welcome to deliver it to the office or directly to the seventh grade outside door. (Please coordinate with Mrs. Venture so that we are ready for you).

Oregon Food Bank needs these nutritious foods:

  • Shelf-stable milk
  • Foods high in protein such as canned meats (i.e., tuna, chicken, salmon) and canned or dried beans
  • Foods high in nutrients, such as canned fruits and vegetables (preferably with reduced sodium and reduced sugar)
  • Whole-grain foods such as brown rice, whole grain cereal and whole-wheat pasta
  • Soups, chilies and stews (preferably with reduced sodium and reduced fat)
  • 100 percent fruit juice (canned, plastic or boxed)
  • Unsaturated cooking oils
  • And other nutritious, "healthy-choice" foods (preferably with reduced fat, sodium and sugar)

To ensure food safety, Oregon Food Bank can't use:

  • rusty or unlabeled cans
  • perishable items (applies only to food drive donations)
  • homemade items
  • noncommercial canned or packaged items
  • alcoholic beverages, mixes or soda
  • open or used items

PLEASE NOTE: If you donate glass products, please box or bag them separately and label the box or bag "GLASS" on all sides.

Thank you very much! We are all very excited to see how much our school can give to help those in need. If you have any questions, contact Ms. Venture ​This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




  • Do not enter or leave the north paved lot when it is coned off.

  • Do not block the driveways at any time, even during periods when they are coned off.

  • Access to the Emergency Lane (from the south gravel lot) must be clear at all times. Do not stop or park in front of, or even partially in front of, the gate at any time.

  • Do not leave your car unattended unless it is legally parked in a lot or curbside. If your car is in car line, you must be with your car.

  • Model safety for our students and your children. Cross only at designated crosswalks or at intersections. Cutting through carline to cross the street violates ORS 801.220, as we have a marked crosswalk at the intersection.

Thank you for helping to keep car line safe and trouble free.




Battle of the Books has begun! We know that many students are excited to read and will want to download books onto their eReaders. Since grades 3 - 5 are typically not allowed to have eReaders at school, we are making an exception until BOB is over.

Students in grades 3 to 5 who wish to have eReaders at school must bring back a signed permission slip.

The device must be labeled with the student's name. In the morning when the student arrives they will turn it in to the teacher, who will keep it behind their desk until reading time. All wireless and cellular functions must be kept off while at school (full "airplane mode").

Grades 6-8 are allowed to have eReaders at school but they also must have permission from their parent, restrict use to designated times, and keep the device in full airplane mode.

For all grades, if the device becomes a distraction, it will have to be taken home and not brought back. With these rules and procedures in place, students may use their eReaders during Battle of the Books!




We have two new students on campus: Mikayla Cram, 4th grade and Thien Nguyen, Kindergarten (pronounced "Tee-en").

It is always hard to join a new community half-way through the year, so if you see the new students or parents at school, welcome them and help them feel at home by introducing yourself.




Our visiting teacher from China thinks Oregon is beautiful, that being immersed in English is much different than studying it in a book, and America is not like the movies. She would enjoy seeing more of it.

Please feel free to invite Miss Tina over for a meal or visit, include her in outings to see local sites, or anything that would give her a chance to meet more people, have more cultural experiences, and see more of this beautiful part of the world. She would love to join you! The best way to reach her is through Teacher Wenny at 503.702.0993 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please visit our website at
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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