April 2018 Principal’s Newsletter English

Principal’s Message

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Friends of Griffiths Middle School,

Thank you for your continued support of all of the activities we have here at Griffiths Middle School. March was a very busy month and the remainder of the school year will also be filled with many activities. Please refer to the Important Dates at the bottom of this newsletter. I want to thank all of our families who took the DUSD online “Parent Engagement Survey” this year. GMS has over 345 parents who have completed this survey so far. Your input is very important. The deadline is April 30th. Thank you. https://downeyunified.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bw1tOlHRavDMqpv

Starting in April, all students at Griffiths Middle School will participate in the State of California’s annual educational assessment system. The tests that comprise of the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA), administered each spring, and they measure how well students in California public schools are meeting the California State Standards. Students will take tests on a computer in the areas of English-Language Arts and Mathematics. In addition, the California Science Test (CAST) is given to students in 8th grade. A letter explaining the entire CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress) and SBA was sent via Connect Ed email. Students will be on Block schedule from April 12th – May 8th. Regular Wednesday Bell schedule will continue throughout.

Our school has had a lot of success in the past few years. One of the main factors leading to our multiple awards is increased test scores. It is very important that our students understand the significance of their effort on state testing. Leading up to and during the testing time, there are a number of things that you can do to prepare your student for the testing experience. Cheer your student on, and let your student know that you believe in him or her. Encourage your student to relax and try his/her best. Students should take the test seriously but not become stressed over it. These tests results do not factor into students’ grades, but they are used as one measure to determine how well a student is performing on the Common Core State Standards. Make sure that your student gets a good night’s sleep for the few days before testing and especially during the testing time. A well-rested student is more alert, is ready to listen to directions, and is more focused during testing.

A good breakfast that is high in protein and low in sugar and caffeine is important on testing days. Arriving on time on testing days is essential. Testing begins at the start of the instructional day. Late students will not be able to interrupt a testing session and will have to make up the missed test at a later date. When your student gets home from school, ask how the test went, and offer encouragement and support, even if he or she doesn’t think it went well. Every day of testing is a new day. Stay positive, keep the tests in perspective, and remind your student that what’s most important is that he or she did his or her best.

You can also help your student prepare for the test by having him/her work through the practice tests. Practice tests for these exams are available online at https://login1.cloud1.tds.airast.org/student/V263/Pages/LoginShell.aspx?c=California_PT and your student can log in as a guest. The more familiar your student is with the keyboard commands and the format of the questions, the more easily they will be able to work through the actual assessments. A testing schedule was mailed home this week.

The California School Dashboard (https://www.caschooldashboard.org) site features easy-to-read reports on multiple measures of school success, including test scores, graduation rates, English Learner progress and suspension rates. The Dashboard is part of California’s new school accountability system based on 2013’s Local Control Funding Formula. It is the next step in a series of major shifts in public education that have raised the bar for student learning, transformed testing and placed the focus on equity for all students. To learn more about California’s accountability and continuous improvement efforts, visit www.cde.ca.gov/dashboard.

In the past, accountability systems for districts and schools relied solely on test scores. But one test taken on one particular day doesn’t provide a complete picture of all the ways schools are helping students succeed. Think of it this way: You can’t drive a car by only watching the speedometer. You also keep your eye on the road, check the mirrors, monitor the gas tank and pay attention if the engine light comes on. Similarly, the Dashboard provides information on different aspects of student performance, which will give a more complete picture of a school’s progress. The Dashboard also reports on growth to show a school’s trajectory over time.

The Dashboard is deliberately designed to be a work in progress: Metrics and reports will be added over time. During the field testing phase, the state will be gathering feedback to make additional modifications.

The exciting changes taking place in education will take time to fully implement. While schools are making progress in many key areas there is always more work to do. The Dashboard is part of an ongoing conversation with our community on both how we’re doing and what we can do better. Meeting goals will take a united effort, and I look forward to working with our families to ensure success for every student.

We have a very busy month ahead. Please see Important Dates below. Thank you for your continued support.


Rani Bertsch, Ed.D.


April Important Dates

April 2-6                     Spring Break

April 9                         Welcome Back!

April 11                                   8:00 a.m. Parent Education on Grit, Mindset, and Perseverance: A

Road Map to Student Success – Library

April 12                       2:38-4:00 Spring Dance – café

7:00 p.m. PTA Meeting – Library

April 12- May 8          Testing Schedule – refer to schedule sent home

April 14 8-12              Saturday School

April 18                       6:30 PTA Honorary Service Award Dinner

April 21                       GMS Band Fieldtrip – Magic Mountain

April 24                       5-7 p.m. Get Lit Poetry Exhibit @ Stay Gallery

April 25                       Progress Reports and My Progress Reflection Form Go Home

April 26                       2:00 Track Meet @ WHS

April 28                       Get Lit Poetry Fieldtrip