The objective of the K-5 program is the development of fluency in the basic skills through the exploration of rich and relevant subject matter. The curriculum, teaching strategies, assessments, daily schedule, class size, and student-teacher ratios are based on research, proven developmental guidelines, and our faculty’s collective experience. Cliff Valley is set apart by the way we turn our philosophy into action, the things we do every day with all students.
Cliff Valley is set apart by the way we turn our philosophy into action, the things we do every day with all students.
Assessment in the elementary program is ongoing and performance-based assuring that each student can apply new knowledge and skills independently and with mastery. Teachers assess student learning through observation, student work, projects, program assessments such as unit quizzes and tests, and outside assessments such as independent reading inventories and standardized testing. Standardized tests are used only in the upper elementary grades to assess student achievement and our educational programs. Results of all assessments are communicated regularly with parents.
Parents receive regular feedback from teachers regarding their child’s class and progress. Weekly newsletters from teachers let parents know what has happened and what to expect in terms of academics and curriculum, while a weekly individualized progress update lets parents know how their child has done in class.
Progress Reports and Parent Conferences
In addition to weekly progress updates, parents receive three formal progress reports from teachers each year. The progress reports are divided into sections for academics, social and emotional, work habits and study skills. Students’ progress is communicated by ratings for skills and, more importantly, narrative comments from teachers. There are two formal parent conferences each year, one in the fall and the other in the spring. Teachers are also available to meet with parents throughout the year as needed.
While each classroom at Cliff Valley School is unique, the teaching teams establish a daily class schedule. In general, morning activities include warm-up activities and/or centers, Language Arts, Math, a snack break, and recess. Following lunch, afternoon activities include science, social studies, and enrichment classes.
Field Trips and other Educational Experiences
Throughout the school year, students have many opportunities to enrich their studies by taking field trips. Teachers thoughtfully seek out museums, performances, exhibits, and locations that relate to the topic of study and enhance students’ learning by providing a meaningful field experience. Guest speakers, workshops, visiting poets and authors are other interesting and engaging educational experiences for students that help them make connections between their background knowledge, what they are learning in class, and the real world applications of their learning.
Student Community and School Spirit
Students develop bonds and build community within their classrooms throughout the year, but they also have opportunities to participate in, contribute to, and build the community and school spirit throughout the entire school. Friday assemblies bring all students together for cheering, sharing, presenting, singing, and acknowledging one another – a special time to build community and school spirit. There are reading buddies and lunch buddies between classes at the elementary and preschool levels. This allows older students to mentor and serve as role models to younger students, while giving the younger students some special “big kid” friendships.
Curriculum is one of the most critical elements in the success of our mission. In developing our curriculum, we pay close attention to:
- Scope of knowledge and skills
- Sequence of knowledge and skills
- Relationships between areas of learning
- Application of skills to life situations
- Process of learning
Our academic curriculum objectives and expectations are based on programs, guidelines, and standards from sources including:
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
- National Science Education Standards
- National Council for the Social Studies
- International Reading Association
- National Reading Panel
- Georgia State Department of Education
- Open Court Language Arts
- University of Chicago Everyday Mathematics
- Understanding By Design model of curriculum development