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Top-Right Corner of Buford Counseling Newsletter October

Buford Counseling Newsletter October 2020

Welcome to the fall! Enjoy the October Newsletter from the Buford Counseling Department.

logo for map tests

MAP Testing at Buford

logo for map testsDear Buford Families:

During the weeks of October 19-30, 2020, your child will take a MAP® Growth™ test from NWEA® on their CCS Chromebook. MAP Growth scores help teachers understand exactly where each child is by measuring achievement and growth in Reading and Mathematics. Teachers use these results to tailor classroom instruction and academic supports to meet the needs of every student. Students can use these results to set personal learning goals.

What’s the MAP test?

MAP Growth tests are unique. These tests adapt to your child’s responses to measure your child’s skill level. If your child answers a question correctly, the next question is more challenging. If they answer incorrectly, the next one is easier. Students cannot pass or fail this test. This test will not affect grades. In fact, it’s normal for students to only answer about half the questions correctly, so please do not help them figure out an answer! These results provide a more complete picture of what your child knows and is ready to learn. You will receive a Family Report showing a summary of how your child is performing academically once testing is complete.

Why are the tests important this year?

Given the challenges of learning from home, MAP Growth test results are especially important this year. These results will help us know what students are ready to learn. To MAP test remotely, we need your support. Before your child’s scheduled MAP test session, you will be asked to help determine if there are any issues with your child’s computer. On the day of the test, try to provide a quiet testing environment and minimize distractions as much as possible. You may also be asked to assist your child when they are logging into the test session. The proctor/teacher will provide a way for you and your child to communicate directly with them if an issue arises. Click here for more information on how you can support your child while taking the MAP test at home.

Test Dates

Your child is scheduled to take their MAP Reading test during their Language Arts class on Monday and Tuesday, October 19 and 20. Their MAP Math test is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, October 26 and 27 during their math class. Teachers will conduct a practice test session prior to the test to prepare your student for what to expect on test day.

Working Together

Students across the US have been successfully remote MAP testing since March. In Charlottesville City Schools, students in grades 2-11 will complete the MAP Reading and Math Growth tests this fall and again later in the year. Combined with previous MAP test results, we will be able to monitor your child’s progress over time and determine if your child is receiving instruction that is maximizing their growth every year, in every grade.
We are truly excited to focus on your child’s individual growth and achievement. Please let me or your student’s teacher know if you have any other questions.


Pamela Davis
Assistant Principal

graphic of news & highlights October 2020

October 2020 News and Highlights

News and Highlights October 2020 with pictures of children learning virtually

Superintendent’s Message

Dear families and staff —

portrait of Dr. Rosa Atkins

Thanks for your continued partnership in online learning. As I mentioned earlier, I’m so proud of our teachers for rising to this occasion, and I’m so proud of our students for engaging so meaningfully. We know it’s not perfect, but we are continuing to modify how we offer special education services and more in response to your feedback.

And of course, we’re also looking ahead, to see how and when we can offer an option for in-person instruction. As you know, I have formed a committee to explore these topics, and at this point, we do not have a fixed plan of action (only topics for further discussion). The earliest we would offer any form of in-person instruction would be the start of the second quarter on November 9.

At the next meeting of our Covid-19 Advisory Committee on October 15, we look forward to the committee’s working groups bringing forward grade-level recommendations for my consideration. (Keep in mind, those recommendations may be to maintain online learning.) If needed, the School Board may hold a second October meeting to hear and vote on my official recommendation, either to continue online learning (as a number of other Virginia cities have done) or to begin offering an in-person option for at least some students. We will let you know when a firm plan has been developed. And in the meantime, you can sign up for updates on the process at

Thanks again for your patience. The number of new cases in Charlottesville is still higher than what the CDC would recommend (to see data, click here and select Charlottesville), but the CDC notes that health data is only one factor — and our own risk mitigation efforts are strong.

Remember, one thing you can do now to prepare is to develop a plan for how your child can get to and from school without relying on the school bus. When the time comes to ask for your intent to remain in online or in-person instruction, we will also offer you the opportunity to apply for limited bus spaces. The more people who can create a walking/biking/car-riding plan for their child, the more we can give bus spots to those who really need them.

Thanks for your continued support!



Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

Cville Schools PTOs Raise Money to Meet Pandemic Needs

As the schools started planning for fall, the PTO leaders across the city formed their own plans to raise financial support to meet the extra needs arising during online learning and the pandemic.

At the October 3 School Board meeting, Jackson-Via PTO officer Chris Meyer announced that thanks to matches provided by the Bama Works Fund of Dave Matthews Band and The Smith Family “Always Am” Fund, the PTOs have jointly raised more than $130,000, which is being distributed to schools according to their percentage of students who qualify for free & reduced meals. From virtual learning supplies to grocery cards, you are helping the schools help families!

logo for CCS PTO Fundraising Effort

Go to


Changing the Narrative, Both Locally and State-Wide

To create a more inclusive and honest social science curriculum, Charlottesville City Schools continues to partner with historic sites, school divisions, and educational nonprofits. This anti-racist and anti-bias work has focused on highlighting African-American and local perspectives, as well as representing various racial, ethnic, and gender identities.

Similarly, Dr. Atkins co-chaired Virginia’s Commission on African-American History Education, which has made several recommendations — including updating Virginia’s state history and social science standards. The Virginia Department of Education is seeking public comment on these revised standards. Find them on the VDOE website (Item H and attachments A-E). The public is invited to email comments to the board at by 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 13.

Addressing STEM Disparities, Pandemic-Style

From kindergarten to CHS, Charlottesville City Schools has made a significant investment in STEM education with iSTEM teachers, brand new fifth and sixth grade engineering courses, and acclaimed middle and high school engineering classes and clubs. This is all possible through partnerships with UVA, the Smithsonian, and others. But continuing this good work in the midst of online learning is challenging.Two groups have stepped up to meet the need.

Doctors at UVA fundraised more than $30,000 to create at-home STEM kits to make sure that all learners grades K-4 have the same learning tools at home to continue hands-on STEM learning. With help from the Shannon Foundation, STEM kits will also be sent home to all 5th through 8th grade students so they can continue exploring science and participating in challenging STEM activities in a hands-on way.

Similarly, Buford and CHS were among the first engineering programs in the country to shift their online learning to a new 3D design tool called Onshape. Now the company that owns Onshape has given $5,000 to financially support our work with the program. Thanks to all the teachers who are making sure that math, science, tech, engineering, coding, and design thinking are still part of the curriculum.

Elementary school staff distributed STEM activity kits to students in grades K-4 last week via school curbside pickup.

CHS Finds New Ways to Connect Students to College

The CHS Counseling Department created two new ways to connect students and families with college: Virtual College Day and a Life After High School workshop. The Virtual College Day on October 2 featured information about the college planning process and resources for students and families. On September 29 and 30, seniors were invited to learn more about life after high school with information about the college application process and other post-secondary opportunities.

Screen shot from CHS virtual college event
CHS students review various workforce options during a “Life After High School” webinar hosted by the counseling team.

Librarians Find New Ways to Connect Books and Kids

A trip to the library was a common school highlight, pre-pandemic. Elementary librarians are finding new ways to put books in the hands of students with a library book curbside pickup program. Check with your school for days and times. Come and get your books!

“We really miss our students and this is a chance to get to [make connections], and of course also to keep their love of reading up and really just encourage or maybe just share some new books that they haven’t seen before,” said Katie Plunkett, Greenbrier librarian.

And when families can’t come to them, the Books on Bikes team of Charlottesville librarians and teachers goes to them, with a regular schedule of visits.

Image of Katie Plunkett with quote. Content is duplicated on the page itself.

Growing the Rank of School-Based Social-Workers

Charlottesville City Schools received a donation from an anonymous private foundation that will support five additional clinical social workers in our schools. We are grateful! There will be two new positions at CHS and Buford, and one at Walker.

One goal of the new positions will be to create consistency and continuity of care between the three schools. Complementing the work of our other school-based mental health professionals, our social workers are always important, but in this unique and challenging time, this gift will allow us to offer trauma-informed care to students and families with acute needs.

colorful hands joined to make a circle

CHS Class of ‘20 Excelled on SAT, Graduation Rates

Charlottesville High School’s 2020 on-time graduation rate remained high at 94.5 percent overall, surpassing the state’s rate of 92.3. This comes after a school-high graduation rate of 95.7 in 2019.

Charlottesville has one of the state’s highest graduation rates among cities.The school’s rate tops the state’s averages in several categories, including for black students and students with disabilities. Charlottesville’s black students’ rate rose from their already-high 2019 figure (95.9) up to 96.7. Similarly, the school’s already-strong rate for students with disabilities increased from 95.3 to 95.6. The cohort’s SAT rates also continued a long tradition of exceeding state and national averages.

Learn More


CHS alumnus Said Osmon celebrates with family and friends at the 2020 CHS Victory Lap selfie station.
CHS alumnus Said Osmon celebrates with family and friends at the 2020 CHS Victory Lap selfie station.

Upcoming Events

  • Farm to School Week, October 5-9: Thanks to Cultivate Charlottesville and our nutrition team for helping us celebrate with videos and a from-scratch meal on Friday!
  • Virtual Buzz-by-Belmont Family 5K. October 9-12. Learn more.
  • Update: School Board Meeting, October 22, 5pm to discuss but not vote on proposal to offer an option for in-person instruction beginning in January or February.
  • Response to Essential Needs Drive-Through Event, October 24, 11am-2pm at CHS:  distributing free family essentials such as clothes, hygiene products, and activity kits. Learn more.
  • Charlottesville Night Out, October 31, 2-4pm at CHS: a safe drive-through alternative to trick-or-treating.
  • Early Dismissal Virtual Learning Days, November 2-3. These mostly asynchronous learning days will follow a typical Friday schedule. We’ll “double-up” on meal deliveries on Monday, and there will be no meal deliveries  on Tuesday.
  • Last day of the first quarter, Friday, November 6. Now is a good time to check grades in Canvas or PowerSchool — and any time you have questions, please be in touch with your teacher or school. As students and families continue to navigate online learning, here are some tips to help your child.

Subscribe to Our Google Calendars

Flyer for REN event. Find link to OCR information on the page.Buzz By Belmont 5K info. Find link to OCR info on the page.

School Board Updates

At their October meeting, the School Board approved revisions to the policy concerning school names to support the work of the superintendent committee that will soon consider whether any school facilities should be renamed. Other superintendent committees created this fall include the Covid-19 Advisory Committee and the School Safety and Security Advisory Committee.

In addition to some of the updates presented in this newsletter, the Board also learned more about how the schools are addressing the needs of students with disabilities, including in-person options as needed.

Kim Powell presented enrollment information (about 190 students fewer than projected), and Renee Hoover reviewed the draft budget development process.

As noted above, the Covid-19 Advisory Committee has not reached a recommendation for how to continue learning in the second quarter. If needed, the School Board will hold a second October meeting to hear a recommendation.

Follow the School Board

In Case You Missed It

Pictures of virtual learners, that is a link to watch a video.
A look back at our first week of virtual learning!

Online Learning Tips

As we approach the end of the first quarter on November 6, we wanted to offer some tips and information for staying on top of online learning. (Thanks to our friends at William Monroe High School for sharing this list!)

  1. Time Management. It is important that students stay up to date with assignments.  Putting off work until later has a tendency to compound the problem and becomes overwhelming for students to catch up.  Using the weekly agenda to see assignments for the week has proven to be beneficial. Be on the look-out for more help and tips from CHS.

  2. Procrastination. Many students are “saving” the workload for one day and then realizing it’s too much. Virtual students should be spending 45 minutes per day per subject.  These timeframes are the minimum. Classes such as DE and AP may be more demanding.

  3. Teacher Emails. You can expect teachers to respond to your questions within 24 hours after you contact them Monday thru Friday.

  4. Grades. Official grades are stored in the Powerschool Parent Portal, which is now connecting properly with Canvas.  Families, if you do not have a login, please contact the front office for this information.  All students can log in with their user name (the first part of their email address) and password to monitor their current grades. While assignments can be viewed in Canvas, official grades are in PowerSchool.

  5. Attendance. Attendance is still being recorded and it is essential that your students are attending zoom meetings and completing work. Students need to log in to all their classes on  Fridays for their asynchronous work.  Please contact the front office with student absences daily.

Need to check in with a teacher? Email or send a Remind message.

Need Canvas help? Visit our Canvas page for information, videos, and more.

  • Note: on the calendar view in Canvas, students can see that completed assignments are crossed off, but the observer does not see the items get crossed off. For observers to see this information, click on the assignment. It will take you to a screen with submission details.

Flyer for REN event. Information is on page.

Response to Essential Needs (R.E.N.) Drive-Through Event

CCS Student & Family Engagement, in partnership with United Way of Greater Charlottesville, invites you to our first-ever REN (Response to Essential Needs) Drive-Through Event on Saturday, October 24, from 11 am – 2pm at CHS. Let us assist you with free and essential needs. Drive through anytime between 11am-2pm to receive free clothing, hygiene products, activity kits, and more! Rain date is 11/7.

We’re still in need of some volunteers to help with this event. We invite staff and families to consider signing up for a shift to help using this link. Thank you! 

Flyer for REN event. Information is on page.

Graduates at the CHS Victory Lap

Charlottesville High School graduation rate again exceeds state at 94.5 percent

Specific Highlights Include Black Students and Students with Disabilities

Charlottesville High School’s 2020 on-time graduation rate remained high at 94.5 percent overall, surpassing the state’s rate of 92.3. This comes after a school-high graduation rate of 95.7 in 2019. Charlottesville has one of the state’s highest graduation rates among cities.

“We couldn’t be more proud,” notes Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins. “Among other things, it indicates that we were able to stay connected with our high school seniors this spring to help them finish their K-12 journey.”

Scenes from the 2020 CHS Graduation Victory Lap

The school’s rate tops the state’s averages in several categories, including for black students and students with disabilities. Charlottesville’s black students’ rate rose from their already-high 2019 figure (95.9) up to 96.7. This exceeds the school’s overall graduation rate by 2.2 points as well as the state’s average for black students (91.3) by 5.4 points. Similarly, the school’s already-strong rate for students with disabilities increased from 95.3 to 95.6, surpassing the school’s overall rate by 1.1 points and their state peers’ rate by 5.2 points. The school’s drop-out rate stayed low at 2.6 percent, compared to the state average of 5.1 percent.

The school’s percentage of students earning advanced diplomas was just above state averages overall (51.9 vs 51.8). This rate improved for certain groups — for instance, the percentage of Charlottesville’s black students who earned the advanced diploma rose 6.4 points, rising from 25.5 in 2019 to 31.9. Virginia’s rate is 36.4.

The graduation rate for Hispanic students fell to 77.1, and Asian students fell to 78.6. The small number of students in each of these categories (35 and 14 students, respectively) makes these groups’ percentages subject to swings.  There is also significant overlap in these two groups with Charlottesville’s ESL students, who also saw their rate decline to 69 percent. Multi-racial students’ rate declined slightly to 91.3. On the plus side, Charlottesville’s economically disadvantaged students again outperformed the state’s (92.6 vs 89.1).

“We are so proud of the Class of 2020. They showed resilience in the face of challenges such as the schools’ closure this spring,” noted CHS Principal Eric Irizarry. “Our teachers, counselors, and staff stayed with them even during the closure, and we found great new ways to celebrate their graduation. That class taught us a lot, which we will use to help this year’s seniors.”

The cohort’s graduation rates complement their strong performance on the SAT. For the combined score, CHS students’ average rose to 1156, which surpassed the state by 40 points and the nation by 105 points. In reading/writing, CHS’s average of 595 surpassed the state by 28 and the nation by 67. In math, CHS’s average of 561 surpassed Virginia by 12 and the US by 38.


illustration of scholarship (grad cap and dollar sign)

College Scholarship Information

illustration of scholarship (grad cap and dollar sign)This page contains a link to current scholarship information related to Charlottesville High School, with deadlines occurring throughout the school year. For questions and additional information about planning for college, visit the Charlottesville High School Counseling website.

This page may also be found by checking the “CHS Quick Links” menu.

College Day virtual workshop flyer page 1

CHS College Counseling offers Virtual College Day event and Live with Counselors webinar

College Day virtual workshop flyer page 1
Click on image for printable PDF.

The Charlottesville High School Counseling Department has two upcoming events for interested students and their families: Virtual College Day and a Life After High School workshop.

The CHS Counseling Team and the Virginia College Advising Corps will host Virtual College Day on Friday, October 2, 2020 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

The event will offer information about the college planning process and resources for students and families.

Register in advance for the Virtual College Day using this link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

All students, parents, and CCS staff are welcome to attend. Students are required to attend the welcome session at 10am, but can then choose from there which sessions they’d prefer to watch. Please see schedule below and flyers for more registration details.

College Day flyer page 2
Click on image for printable PDF.

Virtual College Day Schedule:

10-10:30: Opening Session: The Importance of College
10:30-11:30: University and Community College Panel
11:30-12:00: Lunch
12:00-12:30: HBCU Information Session
12:30-1: PVCC Information Session
1-2: How to Navigate FAFSA & Scholarships
2-3: College Essay Writing Workshop
3-4: Parent Workshop: College Day Summary and How to Support Your Student



Additionally, students are invited to join the CHS school counseling team for
a Life After High School workshop with the CHS school counselors. There are two opportunities to attend this virtual workshop on either September 29 from 10-11am or September 30 from 10-11am. Topics will include the college application process and other post-secondary opportunities.

Please register in advance for the live counselor workshops using this link.

flyer screenshot of Live with your CHS Counselors workshop
Click image for printable PDF.
SAT 2019 all students graphic

CHS SAT scores continue to surpass state, national scores

Charlottesville High School ranked #7 among Virginia school divisions for average SAT score, continuing its history of surpassing state and national averages. 

“We’re delighted to see that our students continue to excel on this exam even during a season when the testing process and more have been disrupted,” noted Dr. Kendra King, Director of Student Services and Achievement.

For the combined score, CHS students’ average rose from 2019 to 1156, which surpassed the state by 40 points and the nation by 105 points. In reading/writing, CHS’s average of 595 surpassed the state by 28 and the nation by 67. In math, CHS’s average of 561 surpassed Virginia by 12 and the US by 38.

SAT 2019 all students graphic

The SAT also publishes the percentage of seniors who have met or surpassed their college readiness benchmarks. Overall, the CHS percentage of college readiness (61 percent) exceeds state (55) and national (45) averages. 

When the data is disaggregated by race and ethnicity, areas for growth appear. Average scores for white students exceeded their state and national peers by 99 and 148 points, respectively. Similarly, multi-racial students were 73 points above the state average and 98 above the national. Black seniors attained the national average, but were 40 points below their state peers. Hispanic seniors at CHS exceeded the national average by 76 points and were 14 points below the state average. Due to small sample sizes, College Board did not release data for other groups.

SAT scores 2019 by race ethnicity
“We are proud to be among Virginia’s top performers on this test — but we want to eliminate race and ethnicity as indicators of success on this and other assessments,” noted Dr. King. “Even during this pandemic, we continue to keep equity as a priority.”

For the past two years, CHS has served as a pilot site for the SAT’s school-day assessment program. Principal Eric Irizarry noted that offering the test during school hours is one of the ways that the school is trying to increase access to the SAT.

In other rankings, Charlottesville City Schools was named #8 among Virginia school divisions by the web site The division earned an A or A+ in college preparation, diversity, and quality of teaching.