Dear Osprey Students and Families,
Shortly after we return from Spring Break, we will administer testing to all 9th through 11th grade students, as mandated by the Colorado Department of Education.  The PARCC, PSAT, ACT and CMAS tests are all designed to help students and schools assess college and career readiness.  We use data from them to help assess our curriculum as a whole, identify potential areas of growth and determine how well we are preparing students for college and post-secondary success.  We encourage our students and families to avoid scheduling appointments during these exams and to come to school on these days particularly aware of having gotten a good night’s rest and a healthy breakfast.  We want our students to demonstrate what they know, as these exams have implications for them as individuals and for our school as a whole.
Please read on to learn more about which tests will be administered when for each grade level, and where we can use some volunteer support.  All exams will be administered online and will take place on campus, during the school day, at no cost to individual families.
Testing Dates by Grade Level
Our 9th grade students will take the PARCC English Language and Math tests Monday, April 11 through Wednesday, April 13, with make-ups on April 14-15.  The test will take a total of about 10 hours, and is scheduled for all 9th graders as follows:

  • Monday, April 11:             10:30 to 3:00 (during periods 3, 5, 6 and 7, with a break for lunch)
  • Tuesday, April 12:             8:30 to 10:30 and 1:15 to 3:15 (during periods 1, 2, 6 and 7)
  • Wednesday, April 13:        8:30-12:30 (during periods 1, 2, 3 and 5)

All 10th grade students will take the PSAT from 9:00 to 12:00 on Wednesday, April 20.
Our 11th grade students will take the Colorado ACT from 9:00 to 1:00 on Tuesday, April 19 and the CMAS Science exam from 9:00 to 2:00 (with a break for lunch) on Thursday, April 21.
We will not administer any standardized tests for our Seniors.
Benefits of Taking Standardized Tests
Taking standardized tests can benefit students in multiple ways.  Most colleges rely on SAT and ACT scores in determining college admission; many scholarships are determined at least in part by these test scores as well.  Taking PARCC, PSAT, CO ACT and CMAS can help students improve their performance and scores on the ACT and SAT, as they become more familiar with testing formats and practice the skill of test taking.  A large aspect of doing well on standardized exams is familiarity and since our students do not take a lot of traditional exams as part of our program, participation in the state-mandated exams provides important practice that sets them up for success when they take college entrance exams in their junior and senior year.
As a school, if we drop below a 95% participation rate on any test we could potentially lose our accreditation or at least have it downgraded.  This would lead to additional oversight from outside agencies, at the expense of the school, thus potentially diverting money away from the classroom.  Last year only, our accreditor, Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI), chose not to use the CMAS and PARCC scores in their determination of school ratings.  CSI awarded us their highest designation–School of Distinction–in 2014, and that rating was upheld for 2015. This year, CSI will once again use our test scores and student participation rate as part of the data that determines our designation.  Being named a School of Distinction is important in that it shows that we are educationally and fiscally sound; only eight CSI schools currently have this honor.  Being named a School of Distinction helps colleges understand that our academic program is rigorous and inspires donors to seriously consider our requests for funding.  It is an important factor that helps to ensure the sustainability of our school.
We recognize that some families have strong feelings around standardized testing and have chosen to opt out in the past.  Last year was the first year for PARCC to be administered, and across the nation, families opted out to register their opposition to what they saw as too many tests at the expense of authentic learning in the classroom.  One result of this opposition was that PARCC testing time was significantly reduced and testing was cut back at certain grade levels.  We encourage you to follow and participate in this conversation as it continues, both locally and nationally, as it can often be part of a rich dialogue about public education.
While we feel it is important to share with you the potentially negative impact of opting out, we also want to be clear that no students or families will face negative consequences from the school for opting out of state-mandated assessments.  We recognize and respect that this is a decision you will each make individually, and ask that you make an informed choice based on the impact to the school and your student. If you do choose to opt out, please submit a letter expressing your decision to the Main Office, signed by a parent/guardian.  Parent refusal notices will be gathered and maintained by Libby Cowles, Assistant Head of School.
Volunteering to Proctor
We are seeking volunteer support to help proctor these exams.  Volunteers will meet briefly with Dusty beforehand, review the testing manual, actively monitor students while they test and keep track of time.  A parent volunteer cannot proctor a test that is being administered to his/her student.

Proctors Needed Test Grade Level Date Time
5 PARCC 9 April 11-13* see above
3 PSAT 10 April 20 9:00-12:00
3 ACT 11 April 19 9:00-1:00
4 CMAS 11 April 21 9:00-2:00

* Parents who volunteer to help with PARCC need not be available for all three dates of testing.  If you would like to volunteer, please contact Dusty Grannis, our Assessment Coordinator, at [email protected].  Many thanks, in advance, to all who might be willing to help with this task!
As always, please feel free to reach out with concerns and questions, about this assessment plan, or anything else.  We appreciate your input and feedback and we’re here to help in any way we can.  Thank you for all you do!