Curriculum and Assessments

Escuela Valdez uses rigorous content and language-based curricula to prepare students for success in their academics and in life. We believe that all students can succeed with data-driven and standards-based instruction. We use a backwards-design model and the Common Core State Standards to plan our instruction.


The ability to read is transformative in a child’s life. Interdisciplinary insights into the process of reading have been uniform in their findings—both on learning to read and on teaching reading.

This research, consistent and extensive, constitutes the “science of reading,” a persuasive body of evidence that documents the skills and capabilities needed to develop a “reading brain.” Neural connections must be made in the phonological assembly region of the brain to enable reading, and these connections must be built through informed instruction.

The Simple View of Reading explained that reading comprehension is a product of decoding and language comprehension, while Hollis Scarborough’s Reading Rope points out how the two work together—with word recognition becoming increasingly automatic (fluent) as language comprehension becomes increasingly strategic.  In viewing these models, it is critical to recognize that decoding without deep levels of language comprehension is insufficient to develop skilled reading. And deep levels of language comprehension without decoding will not result in skilled reading either. Readers need proficiency in both, thus these essential elements must be taught and developed as children learn this life-changing skill. 

K-2nd grade literacy: Built on the Science of Reading, Amplify Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) sequences deep content knowledge with research-based foundational skills. With new digital features and multimedia resources, it’s now more engaging and flexible than ever.

3rd-5th grade literacy: The EL Education curriculum is designed to engage students in reading, thinking, talking, and writing about engaging grade level texts on meaningful topics, using high quality, grade level texts in English and Spanish.  Each module in grades 3-5 consists of two one-hour blocks of content-based literacy instruction. Together, these two hours of curriculum teach and formally assess all strands of the Language Arts standards for each grade level. Click here for more information.


Mathematics instruction is concept based, focused on problem solving, differentiated, and includes games. Our Investigations Math Curriculum integrates core mathematical practices that focus on reasoning, communication, and making sense into the learning sequence. Investigations is a focused, coherent, and rigorous K-5 mathematics curriculum. Fully aligned to the content and practice standards of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), deep and careful attention is paid to mathematics content and to student thinking and understanding. Making sense of mathematics is the heart of the work for students.

Social Studies

Social Studies includes civic engagement, as well as knowledge from the core content areas of civics, economics, geography, and history.  We are transitioning to Inquiry Journeys by InquirED based on the strong use of strategies to support student voice and choice and connect to students’ experiences and interests.  Grades 4 and 5 will be implemented in the 2021-22 school year, and grades K-3 will be implemented in the 2022-23 school year. 


Science is actively taught to allow students to explore their world and discover new things through hands-on labs and experiments.  We use Amplify Science, a K–8 science curriculum that blends hands-on investigations, literacy-rich activities, and interactive digital tools to empower students to think, read, write, and argue like real scientists and engineers.

CMAS Assessment

CMAS is the Colorado state test that meets the Federal testing mandates. The CMAS test is a high-quality, computer-based assessment for grades 3-5. It is designed to be used as a meaningful and relevant assessment and provide a reliable checkpoint that can show performance relative to the district and the state. This test is a level of accountability for our staff and students. Standardized testing is part of our current culture and required by legislation (SB-191). 

Our philosophy at Valdez is to work toward achievements in testing through quality instruction, not just quality test-prep. Our focus is on good instruction, teaching kids the critical-thinking skills to be successful in life. We trust our model and believe in a solid approach to teaching and a well-rounded preparation that will lead to great test results.