5. Academics

5.01 – About Core Knowledge

An Idea. . . That for the sake of academic excellence, greater fairness, and higher literacy, elementary and middle schools need a solid, specific, shared core curriculum in order to help children establish strong foundations of knowledge, grade by grade.

A Guide To Specific, Shared Content. . . as outlined in the Core Knowledge Sequence (a grade-by-grade guide to important knowledge) and supported in Core Knowledge resources, including the What Your Kindergartner Sixth Grader Needs To Know book series.

A School Reform Movement. . . taking shape in hundreds of schools where educators have committed themselves to teaching important skills and the Core Knowledge content they share within grade levels, across districts, and with other Core Knowledge schools across the country.

The Four Ss – Core Knowledge Is:


Many people say that knowledge is changing so fast that what students learn today will soon be outdated. While current events and technology are constantly changing, there is nevertheless a body of lasting knowledge that should form the core of a Preschool-Grade 8 curriculum. Such solid knowledge includes, for example, the basic principles of constitutional government, important events of world history, essential elements of mathematics and of oral and written expression, widely acknowledged masterpieces of art and music, and stories and poems passed down from generation to generation.


Knowledge builds on knowledge. Children learn new knowledge by building on what they already know. Only a school system that clearly defines the knowledge and skills required to participate in each successive grade can be excellent and fair for all students. For this reason, the Core Knowledge Sequence provides a clear outline of content to be learned grade by grade. This sequential building of knowledge not only helps ensure that children enter each new grade ready to learn, but also helps prevent the many repetitions and gaps that characterize much current schooling (repeated units, for example, on pioneer days or the rain forest, but little or no attention to the Bill of Rights, or adding fraction with unlike denominators.)


A typical state or district curriculum says, Students will demonstrate knowledge of people, events, ideas, and movements that contributed to the development of the United States. But which people and events? What ideas and movements? In contrast, the Core Knowledge Sequence is distinguished by its specificity. By clearly specifying important knowledge in language arts, history and geography, math, science, and the fine arts, the Core Knowledge Sequence presents a practical answer to the question, What do our children need to know?


Literacy depends on shared knowledge. To be literate means, in part, to be familiar with a broad range of knowledge taken for granted by speakers and writers. For example, when sportscasters refer to an upset victory as David knocking off Goliath, or when reporters refer to a Threatened presidential veto, they are assuming that their audience shares certain knowledge. One goal of the Core Knowledge Foundation is to provide all children, regardless of background, with the shared knowledge they need to be included in our national literate culture.

5.02 – Core Knowledge Publications

The Core Knowledge series of books, What Your First, Second, etc….Grader Needs To Know, can be purchased at most bookstores in Denver including:

Barnes and Noble
DC Library
Tattered Cover

Additional information about the Core Knowledge Foundation can be obtained by using one of the following options:

Write: The Core Knowledge Foundation 2012-B Morton Drive Charlottesville, VA 22902

Call: 1-800-238-3233
Fax: 1-804-977-0021
E-Mail:  www.coreknowledge.org (web site) coreknow@coreknowledge.org (email)

5.03 – Academic Honesty

Honesty is one of the Core Virtues we emphasize in our school community, and this includes honesty in our schoolwork. Student dishonesty on papers, tests, or other work is one of the behaviors that will result in an immediate disciplinary action and potential administrative intervention.


One form of student academic dishonesty is plagiarism on written papers. This involves using someone else’s words, ideas, phrases, and/or designs without giving credit. Students are encouraged to make references to other works, but these references (including individual ideas, words, phrases, and/or designs) must be credited properly. Material from Internet sites must also be credited properly, just like any other reference source. Teachers will help students learn how to give proper credit for these other sources.

Before attending high school and college, it is important for students to learn what plagiarism is, and how to avoid it, for the consequences of plagiarism in high school and beyond can be severe. All work turned in (be it written, oral, artistic, or programmed for a computer) is to be the students own, except where otherwise credited. Any questions a student might have about plagiarism should be asked BEFORE a particular work is handed in for a grade.

We expect our students to be honest. Being honest includes writing our own papers, producing our own work, and giving proper credit to sources. The expectation for honesty extends to making sure that test answers are the students own and even that homework produced by the student be original.

Please see Discipline Matrix: Academic Cheating   Behavior Matrix


Cheating will not be tolerated. Students who give or receive information or otherwise cheat on quizzes, tests, homework or work turned in for a grade, will receive an immediate discipline notice and a zero on the paper in question. In some cases, parental involvement and/or further disciplinary action will be required.

Please see Discipline Matrix: Dishonesty  See Behavior Matrix

Computer & Electronic Devices Ethics

Any student who intentionally, deceitfully or maliciously uses the computer for illegitimate purposes will be in violation of school rules on DCSD Internet Usage Policy. The misuse of computer privileges includes but is not limited to, writing or using any programs or web sites that have offensive language or images.

Please see Discipline Matrix: Misuse of computer   Behavior Matrix


We expect each student to develop the good habit of honesty in all areas of academic life. 

5.04 – Evaluations and Assessments

All teaching staff at PCK use data to inform instruction, both program-wide and at the individual student level. Students enrolled at PCK will participate in building-wide standardized assessment that can include: Dibels, MAPs, CoGats, and any other assessment deemed necessary by the teacher. PCK also follows the Douglas County School District practice of standardized testing.

Colorado State Law 22-7-409(1.2)(d)(I)(A) states that all students enrolled in public school are required to take the State Standardized Assessment. PCK complies with this mandate.
(approved OC 2/10/14)

The PARCC (Partnerships for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) for English Language Arts and Math is administered to students in 3rd – 8th grade in the spring between mid March and the end of April. Results will be mailed to parents as soon as they are made available by the Colorado Department of Education. 

CMAS (Colorado Measures of Academic Success) for Science and Social Studies is administered to students in 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th grade. Science is administered to 5th and 8th graders every year in April. Social Studies is administered to 4th and 7th graders in April if chosen through the random selection process. Results will be mailed to parents as soon as they are made available by the Colorado Department of Education. 

DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) is administered in grades K-3 three times per year. Results are available to parents during Parent/Teacher conferences.

MAPs (Measures of Academic Progress) are administered in grades K-8th three times per year. Results are available to parents during Parent/Teacher conferences or at any time by request.

COGATs (Cognitive Abilities Test) is administered twice – once at the beginning of 3rd grade and again at the beginning of 6th grade. Results are mailed to parents as soon as they are available.

Kindergarten Screening Assessment is administered in April prior to starting kindergarten.

Various content assessments will be administered by teachers in all subject areas. Style and timing of assessment will be determined by the teacher.

5.04 – Evaluations and Assessments

Parents are encouraged to check the IC parent portal at anytime for student grades.

The academic grading scale used at PCK is as follows:

A 93 – 100
B 86 – 92
C 78 – 85
D 70 – 77
F  69 and below

5.05 – Homework

Homework is an integral part of the education program at PCK. It is an extension of the classroom lessons and directly relates to class work. It reinforces skills and concepts that are taught and helps develop good study skills and habits. It also informs parents of what is being taught in the classroom. Some guidelines for the assignment of homework follow:

Homework should be assigned with coordination between teachers and consideration of the importance of child participation in family activities and responsibilities.

Teachers are expected to make specific assignments, evaluate and differentiate them as much as possible to the ability and maturity level of the student, and relate them to the course objectives. If a student is consistently not completing homework in the allotted time, parents should contact the student’s teacher. Similarly, if a student is completing homework too rapidly, parents should contact the student’s teacher.

A PCK student should spend time each day studying, whether or not homework is assigned. It should be thought of as a study time. If no homework is assigned, students are encouraged to review math facts, read, practice writing, study spelling words, or read a book with parents. This approach helps students develop good study habits.

The following guide is the minimum recommended amount of time students should spend studying each evening (excluding special projects):

Kindergarten: 30 minutes (plus 15 minutes of reading)

Grade 1: 30 minutes (plus 15 minutes of reading)

Grade 2: 30 minutes (plus 15 minutes of reading)

Grade 3: 45 minutes (plus reading)

Grade 4: 45 minutes (plus reading)

Grades 5 & 6: 60 minutes (plus reading)

Grades 7 – 8: 90 plus minutes (plus reading)

Make-up Work for Excused Absences
All make-up work will be assigned on the day the student returns from the absence. The student is given two days for each day absent to make up work. However, work must be submitted in a timely fashion, and teachers will indicate the due date for all make-up assignments. If previously assigned work is due the day the student was absent, it becomes due the first day the student returns to school.

Make-up work is NOT allowed for unexcused absences (please refer to section 6.1 regarding attendance.) Students are responsible for content missed.

Late Work
Grades K-5 – A student is usually docked one letter grade or more when an assignment is not completed on time. This is to communicate to the parents that their child may need assistance or guidance in establishing good study skills. The child may be given an opportunity to complete the assignment and hand it in a timely manner; it is at the discretion of each teacher to accept late work for partial credit. If a student is habitually late with assignments, the teacher will schedule a conference with both the student and parent.

Grades 6-8 It is completely up to the discretion of each teacher whether late work will be accepted and, if accepted, how it will be graded.

5.06 – Department of Instructional Support Services (ISS)

This department consists of a special education teacher, special educational assistant(s), a speech/language pathologist, a social worker, an occupational therapist, and a school psychologist. The ISS team provides direct or consultative services for those students who are identified with specific learning related disabilities and have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). They also help teachers with students who may have unidentified disabilities. Direct services are provided to students both in the classroom and in small groups outside of the classroom, as well as consultative services with teachers and parents.

504 Support is also available to qualified students. The following pamphlet is available for more information: DCSD 504 Pamphlet (updated 2-19-14)

5.07 – PCK Resource Teacher Program

PCK Resource Teachers generally address the needs of students who either require extra help with their studies, or in some cases, resource teachers may also help with enrichment activities. Classoom teachers refer students for tutoring and then meet with the resource teacher to discuss what assistance is needed based on assessments or classroom observations. Goals are then set for each student and a time frame is created to serve them. At the end of the time period, the students progress is reviewed and further plans are made. If the parent has any questions or concerns related to student progress while working with a resource teacher, the parent should contact the classroom teacher and not the resource teacher.

5.08 – Enrichment Classes

Music, drama, enrichment opportunities, and extracurricular activities may be offered at various times throughout the school year. Please refer to the school news and other handouts for details.

5.09 – Grade Advancement and Retention(OC approval 12/10/12)

Advancement:Advancement is defined as promoting a student to the grade after next.

Determination of Advancement:

  1. Parents or teachers can propose advancement of students to PCK’s academic administration
  2. Data to support such advancement will be collected by teacher and administration. This data can include MAPs, standardized testing, math placements, social/emotional observations, etc.
  3. Maturity and social-emotional factors, along with superior academic standing will be determining factors in student advancement

Students will not be advanced if parents or school administration do not agree to this placement.

Retention: Retention is defined as not promoting a student to the next grade. The student will not be offered a spot in the next grade but will be offered a spot in the same grade in which they are currently enrolled.

Determination of Retention:

  1. Students will be considered for retention when they lack the building block knowledge to proceed to the following level of learning in core subjects.
  2. Parents will be advised of Consideration of Retention by the end of the second trimester in K-5th grade and by the end of the second quarter in 6th to 8th grades.
  3. The grade level RTI team of teachers will provide data and information to support the consideration. This data can include MAPs, standardized testing, math placements, social/emotional observations, etc.
  4. Students will also be considered for retention if their level of maturity does not allow them to access the curriculum.
  5. Parent request for retention of their student will be taken into account.
  6. If it is determined that a student is unable to access a grade curriculum in the first 8 weeks of the school year, the student may be placed in a lower grade as soon as possible.
  7. The final determination of retention will be made by PCK’s administrative team, including the Vice-Director in charge of Academics and the School Director

Promotion to High School: At graduation, 8th grade students are identified as having satisfactorily completed middle school academic requirements. Graduates are considered ready to advance into high school level requirements.

Non-promotion to High School:

PCK will not give a graduation certificate to the following 8th grade students:

  1. Students who have failing grades in 3 or more core subjects (Language Arts, Math, Science, Humanities) during one semester or more, AND
  2. Students whose MAPS and State Standardized testing show performance in the below-proficient range

A letter will be placed in the student’s cumulative file and IC record to indicate that the student has not mastered 8th grade standards

Student may not participate in PCK’s graduation ceremony

5.10 Math Placement Guideline

Students are ability grouped for math class starting in 1st Grade. Teachers make the placement determination for each student every year based on standardized assessment data and classroom performance. Parent requests will be taken into consideration but will not be the determining factor when deciding placement for a student.

If students are unable to sustain the requirements of their class placement, the teacher, in consultation with the Academic Director (when needed), will make the determination to move the student into a different class as soon as the student’s grade demonstrates this need. Parents will be advised of this class change.

Students who consistently score between 93% and 100% on assessments, and fulfill all other class requirements to the teachers satisfaction, will be considered for movement into a faster-paced class at the end of the school year. In the unlikely event that a student is moved into a faster- paced class during the school year, parents will be required to cover missed material with their student in order to prepare them to transfer successfully.

5.11 Requirements for Participation in the Honors Math Program

In order for students to keep their placement in the Math Honors program at PCK, the following criteria must be met:

Maintain a 90% or higher math grade. Tutoring by classroom teachers is not available to honors math students.

Maintain a consistently high score in MAPS math testing. Some small dips are expected, but should be followed by a strong MAP score rebound.

School attendance is high – very few absences

Student must do homework consistently and be willing to show work for all problems.

Student must have the ability and desire to quickly grasp math concepts and sustain a fast pace of learning.

If a student’s grade or work habits do not fit the criteria, the student will be put on probation. If the student is unable to fix the problem by the end of the grading period, or if the student fluctuates in grades or effort, he or she will be moved to the next level of math for the remainder of the school year. At the end of the school year, teacher recommendation will be used to place the student for the following year.

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