American Sign Language, as a visual language, is ultimately accessible to all CSDR students whether they are deaf or hard of hearing.

American Sign Language is a legitimate, natural language, separate from English. It is the leading minority language in the United States after Spanish, Italian, German, and French. (Lane, Hoffman, & Bahan, 1996)

A solid foundation in American Sign Language can lead to the development of English literacy. Development of fluency in both American Sign Language and English literacy is essential for academic, intellectual, socioemotional, and social growth at CSDR and must begin as early as possible.

The development of English literacy is of paramount importance for success in academics and careers. Language growth and conceptual learning are facilitated when communication is clear, consistent, meaningful, and accessible.

American Sign Language and English coexist at CSDR in complex and mutually enriching ways. Students are best served by staff who are capable users of both American Sign Language and written English. No student shall be denied access to instruction because of unmet communication needs.


Communication and the education of Deaf and hard-of-hearing students

CSDR has adapted the National Deaf Education Project’s Statement of Principle as a guideline to shape its educational program. This Statement of Principle asserts that communication is at the heart of human and academic growth; that the “right to language” is necessary for any educational progress; and that language is central to the human experience. This Statement of Principle concludes that virtually everything an individual does or a society accomplishes has at its foundation the ability to communicate. For deaf children this means they must have the opportunity to develop age-appropriate language skills, to be in an environment where there is a critical mass of communication peers, and to be in a classroom where staff can communicate effectively and directly with them. Regardless of the level of hearing loss, the one commonality of all deaf students is that their ability to learn relies heavily on a communication-rich educational, social, and home environment.

CSDR views the development of ASL to be the Deaf or hard-of-hearing child’s first language and written English a second language. A Deaf or hard-of-hearing child must have a solid foundation in their first language before effective education in written English can begin.

First Language Acquisition

This illustrates a flow of language acquisition:

A first language (L1) is the student’s natural, most accessible language for all communicative purposes and serves as the critical foundation that precedes all academic learning. For the mainstream population, L1 would usually refer to the home language of the parents. For instance, English is the L1 for a hearing child of English-speaking parents, while Spanish is the L1 for a hearing child of Spanish-speaking parents. All students must have a solid foundation in their first language before they can acquire a second language (L2). Using the example of Spanish-speaking families, the children’s L1 is Spanish, and they attend school to learn English as their second language.

Incidental Learning and Total Access/Open Communication

Incidental learning, unintentional and unmotivated learning that occurs naturally without any structure or apparent reinforcement, is limited without an individual’s ability to communicate. Students should be able to walk through the hall of their school and see and understand most any conversation that is occurring. They should be able to participate in sports and benefit from seeing, for example, what the coach is saying to another player. Similarly, students begin to learn through observation of adults interacting with one another and reflecting on the appropriate interaction and social skills. Without communication in the home, CSDR students are growing up in a “learning vacuum” that can negatively impact their lives in more ways than just in an academic setting.

CSDR accordingly addresses incidental learning in a number of ways. First and foremost, CSDR has created and adopted for its students a school-wide concept known as total access and/or open communication. This simply means that on-campus the use of sign language (ASL) is promoted and encouraged everywhere and by everyone. New staff hired as Civil Service personnel without direct contact with students are not required to know ASL upon hire; however, the school provides classes for staff during work hours on a weekly basis, giving them the opportunity to learn sign language. The ASL classes are held frequently during the week in small groups, customized to specific staff assignments, such as a class for only the Infirmary staff at their premises with the primary focus on medical vocabulary. Staff are encouraged to sign at whatever level they are able at all times, even if they are in a conversation with hearing individuals. This allows students to have a barrier-free environment for incidental learning.

With this concept in mind, even campus lighting and building structure are designed in a way that promotes both incidental and formal learning. All the new construction currently underway at CSDR takes into consideration the communication needs of the Deaf students. Improved lighting, message boards, and the latest technology in the classrooms and dorms are all in place to maximize the students’ ability to communicate and learn.


Launched in 1953 and ignited by a maverick spirit and a passion for serving students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, California School for the Deaf in Riverside (CSDR) has attracted deaf scholars and steadfast staff with innovative spirit and a desire to serve deaf and hard-of-hearing students. These exceptional individuals have created paths of success and opportunities for our students while eliminating any and all barriers. This tradition continues, as we are hard at work transforming CSDR to be just as relevant and successful for the next six decades. Student achievement is the core of our purpose. Today the landscape is different and our service has evolved.

CSDR embraces the philosophy that positive academic, intellectual, social-emotional, and physical development is the goal for every Deaf and hard-of-hearing child, and that the responsibility for the achievement of this goal is shared by the student, the family, and the school. In implementing this goal, CSDR uses a bilingual approach to learning and development with equal emphasis on American Sign Language (ASL) and written English. This approach provides individualized and structured group learning experiences, which will lead each student toward his or her maximum levels of functioning capability.

Underlying the CSDR philosophy are a number of tenets that collectively represent feedback gathered from stakeholders such as staff and students, parents, Community Advisory Committee, members of the Deaf community, and local community and business leaders. These tenets represent CSDR’s vision of itself today and the pathway it intends to follow in its pursuit of excellence in education and service. Following are the CSDR tenets grouped under vision, values, beliefs, and educational philosophy.


CSDR envisions a school:


CSDR values:


CSDR believes:

Educational Philosophy

These tenets provide powerful insight as to the nature of CSDR and the challenges the school faces as a residential special education school for the deaf. Members of the visiting committee will find that the tenets contain not only numerous references to American Sign Language, but also other indications that CSDR indeed has one requirement unique to the instruction and learning of Deaf and hard-of-hearing—that only a communication-driven system will effectively meet the educational needs of all deaf children.



We have a visual expression of our purpose - one that marries our past to our present and sets the course for where we're headed in the future. This bilingual logo, by Deaf professional designer Suzanne Stecker, symbolizes our commitment to you that we'll remain true to our core values as we set our sights on the future.


Are Formal ASL Classes Really Necessary? Y-E-S

An official formal ASL curriculum is in place for our students here at CSDR, in addition to their English courses. Is formal ASL instruction really that important and/or necessary? The answer to that question is, once again, a big fat resounding Y-E-S.

Why? Dr. Jim Cummins, a professor at the University of Toronto, works on language and literacy development of English language learners. According to Dr. Cummins, schools that offer bilingual/bicultural programs use ASL not just as a support to English and content mastery, but also as a crucial tool to represent ideas and think critically about issues. Children, whose first language is spoken English, enter school fluent in English but still take English lessons for at least 12 more years.

Formal English instruction helps hearing children deepen their linguistic knowledge and gives them even greater academic strength in their first language. This should also apply to deaf children. The teaching of ASL Language Arts serves the same function, providing these children with an effective tool for thinking and problem solving. Deaf students who receive formal ASL Language Arts instruction transfer this cognitive power to English. They have greater opportunities for developing conceptual and academic proficiency in not only one, but TWO languages.

The best way for students to learn new material is if they activate their prior knowledge. Therefore, we need to ensure that our students here at CSDR have a strong foundation in their first language, ASL. Knowing ASL doesn’t interfere with the learning of English. As a matter of fact, it has the opposite effect. It has been proven that the more signing skills a deaf child has, the more improved the child’s reading skills are, as well.

CSDR has developed a comprehensive formal ASL curriculum specially designed to correlate with common core English-Language Arts standards and objectives for each grade level. The aim is to use ASL as a medium of instruction that focuses on deepening students’ conceptual foundation. Students develop appreciation of ASL grammar, composition, and literature studies, and learn to use ASL for intellectual inquiry. ASL teachers work closely with English Language Arts teachers to connect lessons and build bridges between students’ first and second languages.

View the examples in the chart of student activities during ASL classes that transfer to academic success in other courses:

Instructional Activities from American Sign Language to English

Students who understand the function of a 'metaphor' in ASL... ...are more likely to understand how metaphors function in English.
Students recognize patterns in ASL poetry presented through films... ...and then recognize patterns and rhythms in English poetry.
Students work on developing their presentation skills by videotaping themselves following the signing process.... ...which is similar to the writing process of drafting, revising, and editing.
Students review video clips and edit their presentation until they feel confident... ...allowing the transfer of information onto paper to make quality reports or essays.
Student view signed ASL stories to find story elements such as characters, settings, plots, and themes. They work on various genres while signing stories, and adjust their tone and approach as they present information... ...which transfers to reading skills that students acquire through English Language Arts classes.
Students work on creating proper sentences by identifying subjects and predicates, and then analyze the syntax to see which order of words make the most sense... them opportunities to better understand how English sentences are structured.

Our Middle School and High School students take two Language Arts classes here at CSDR. One is labeled English and the other one ASL; both teach about language and how best to analyze and appreciate both the students’ first and second languages. The bridges built between these two languages will enhance the academic experience and help students become better language learners and users. The understandings gained from these language classes will not only help students through graduation, but also as lifelong language learners. Students need full support in formal ASL instruction alongside their formal English instruction. With a program like this in place, we see academic growth skyrocket, with improved performance and test scores in all content areas.

ASL Instructional Guide for Teachers

The ASL Instructional Guide (AIG) tool greatly benefits CSDR. AIG fosters ASL literacy skills, which support students’ academic success across the curriculum, whether it is English, math, science, or history. AIG author Todd Czubek, a CODA*, is a Language and Literacy Education instructor under the Deaf Studies program at Boston University. Czubeck signs so well in fluent ASL that he is often thought to be deaf. Teachers and curriculum specialists on the ASL Team received comprehensive trainings on how to use the AIG to serve as group mentors for the school. AIG training was given school-wide for all teachers and teaching assistants who increased awareness about what our students are learning. Mentors assist other teachers with lessons and activities for our students to develop ASL understanding. The better our students and staff understand the foundations of ASL, the better able we communicate academic ideas and connect to academic concepts.

AIG has three major components: ASL grammar study, ASL composition study, and ASL literature study. The grammar study covers semantic processing, cheremic awareness, graphemes (similar to phonics), signs and sign vocabulary (called spacabulary), sentence types, parts of signing (similar to parts of speech), and classifiers. The composition study covers digital storytelling, cinematography, expository compositions, presentations, poetry, ASL songs, number and ABC stories, ASL traits, and ASL media techniques. The literature study covers Deaf studies, themes and genres found in ASL literature, and analysis/evaluation of a variety of literature. Students touch upon these three components throughout their school years here at CSDR. We are very excited about this powerful tool to help guide the school towards greater student academic achievement.

This is an exciting era in deaf education, and CSDR shall lead the way. You are invited to witness the culture of academic excellence and join me in celebrating California School for the Deaf, where language and learning thrive!

ASL Assessments

ASL Viewing Comprehension Assessment is a task that measures how well students understand videotext they view independently. There are 10 questions for each narrative and expository passages presented in ASL videos. After the students finish viewing the passage, they answer explicit and implicit questions and open-ended questions about the vocabulary (“spacabulary”) found in the passage. This assessment is designed for grade K-5 students to perform twice per year and measures grade level ASL viewing comprehension, fluency, and accuracy, and vocabulary.

ASL Viewing Fluency Assessment is an assessment instrument that allows teachers to measure grade K-5 students’ retelling fluency performance in Fall and Spring. Skills assessed include rate of speed, accuracy, expression, comprehension, and overall viewing ability. Students view then retell a passage in a 30-45 seconds clip excerpted from ASL literature videos. The number of correct signs, classifiers, phrases, and grammar usages is determined to provide the ASL viewing fluency rate and to assume if students have mastered appropriate grade-level ASL viewing skills.

6+1 ASL Traits Assessment is a model adapted from the 6+1 Trait Writing Model of instruction developed by Education Northwest. This assessment consists of narrative, informative/explanatory, and opinion/argument videosigning rubrics used to score grade K-12 student videosigning and allows teachers decide how to best meet the videosigning needs of their students. The rubrics comprise a scoring scale with descriptors of 6+1 key traits that define qualify videosigning: ideas, organization, affect, sign choice, fluency, conventions, and presentation. Designed prompts are provided for students to create videosigning in Fall and Spring and also rubrics can be used by teachers and students as regularly and as frequently as necessary throughout the school year.


California School for the Deaf addresses the California State Standards, as well as the Common Core State Standards. “The biggest shift from California Standards to CCSS is more emphasis on developing reading skills across all course work. Students are required to read more informational text and support their opinions/ideas by citing examples,” explains Stacey Hausman, Student Outcomes Specialist.

“The Common Core State Standards is all about engagement!” says Nanci Shrager, Special Projects Supervisor. Our instructors spend time collaborating and exploring the CCSS to identify essential questions that will guide student inquiry. Engagement occurs during hands-on activities and dialogues in a language and/or visual mode that everyone can access. Teachers support the students utilizing Bloom’s Levels of thinking and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge to address the complexities of thinking skills that each task requires.


Ms. Elizabeth Durham addresses her class for the daily question on the board. The day before in their science lab, the students had studied three kinds of rocks. Today the class was going to find out where those rocks came from, or how they were made. Out of her six classes, this period consisted of struggling readers, but still, Ms. Durham was able to address these emphasized common core standards:

In their science logs, the students added “Rocks” to their table of contents. On the next page, they jotted down the page number into the table of contents, before copying the title “Minerals and Rocks,” and the daily question, “How are the three main kinds of rock formed?” using their textbook and a handout as resources. The students quickly labeled the three main rocks in their journal.

Ms. Durham assigned within the group a designated reader, who was stronger in English. That student led the group by reading the task to analyze the information and integrate it into the “Classifying and Grouping” map, which served as their visual model that convened the complicated textbook and organizing it to be comprehensible (RST 6-8.7).

The teacher visibly enlarged the Earth Science textbook through the overhead projector. She emphasized the text’s features by pointing out the blue subheadings, labeled “Forming Igneous Rocks” and signed the paragraph in American Sign Language to the class. The class then gave their suggestions on the main and most important concepts. “Inside the earth” signed Brissa. “Soft… what’s it called… M… that word ‘molten material’ becomes cool and hard,” stated Jason. Ms. Durham underlined these words, and told that class that is exactly right, “Igneous rocks are hot molten materials inside of the earth that rise to the surface and become cool, hard rocks.” The teacher demonstrated where to write that information on a sticky note, and reminded the class to record the page number on the back, because it is important to cite the evidence before sticking it to the correct branch of their tree diagram (RST 6-8.1).

The class divided into two groups, and read from their textbook to each other through ASL. The teacher visited each cluster of desks, observed the students working together, and provided support as needed. Looking at his textbook, Jason expressed to his neighboring classmates: “Yes, this rock may fall and hit the earth, cracking in two. Then with weather and wind there’s a breakdown of the surface material. That’s why it’s sedimentary.” Tiamanie nodded, “Oh, ok that makes sense,” as she looked at her own open-faced textbook.

Smiling, Durham tells those who finished, “Now here’s your challenge!” She recited from Jason’s notebook, and then removed his collection of mini-post-it notes. “These are now scrambled. Can you return these post-its to its appropriate places in your journal?” She continued, “When you are done, pass on a scrambled version to the student to your right, and check with each other for confirmation.” Each individual practiced matching the vocabulary to the scientific descriptions at least three times. Jason reviewed, “Ok, this is Igneous, this is Metamorphic, and this is Sedimentary. Does that sound right?” Noemi begged: “Let me see!” Jason reassured her, “You can go ahead and unscramble it yourself, I can help you.”

After a few minutes, Ms. Durham checked the students’ progress, “Class, who has not yet finished this assignment?” Two female students raised their hands, and the teacher directed them, “Ok, you two can sit together at this table end to help each other. The rest of you please pay attention to your number.” She counts off the students, “1. 2. 1. 2. 1. 2 (before instructing all the number ones to stand up and switch seats with another number one). Now share your thinking map and mixed post-its with your new table partners.” At the end of the post-activity, a student excitedly raised his hand to announce that he was all done. The mentor replied, “Wonderful! And how was it?” The student beamed, “It was easy!”

However, later when reviewing her homework assignment, new student Bless said “This is a lot of reading! I’m not used to this.” Ms. Durham kindly gave her a pass for intervention period, to come back during the last period of the day to get additional assistance, in which the most important information would be highlighted, coupled with a few quick drawings to make it a little less overwhelming for the newcomer.

These reading activities, in which they documented evidence from the text will lead directly into the next day’s writing activity, where they finally answered the daily question, “How are the three main kinds of rock formed?” While they wrote their responses, they used quotes from their sticky notes and cited the page number (WHST 6-8.9). The structuring and organization of their answers followed their thinking map to produce clear and coherent writing (WHST 6-8.4).

With any group of students who range from high to delayed readers, Ms. Durham led the class with high-level, text-based discussions. The students’ process of learning in her classroom as accountable members is as vital as the earth science learning content. When asked about her teaching of the standards, Durham replied:

“I really enjoy the implementation of common core in my class, especially in the sciences! It’s my belief that common core empowers the students to become responsible and active in their own learning. Prior to common core, I was the primary one interacting with the textbook, developing PowerPoint’s to teach the students. Instead, with the integration of common core, the students are the ones actively using the textbook to learn, and I just support and guide them along the way. I have noticed that as the students become responsible for their learning, they become more invested in what they are learning. Once they are invested, the students take their education beyond the classroom and thus learn far more than I ever could I have taught them in that one period. While it has been a change for the students and me, I have already seen fantastic results and I am eager to see further changes in our students as they become more confident and empowered critical thinkers.”


Ms. Shanna Grossinger creates multi-literacy assignments for real audiences and with real purpose. All her students have passed the California High School Exit Exam, and need to be challenged. Her class discussed the George Orwell novel, 1984, before they wrote their comparisons on the overall comment or criticism about society that the “1984” Macintosh commercial made, to the novel, 1984. A student in class spontaneously wrote, “In 1984, citizens march simultaneously to their seats as they listen to Big Brother’s speech. On the contrary, MacIntosh’s commercial criticizes the concept of ‘sameness’.“

The teacher expected her students to give a presentation to the class the next day about their perspectives that will be followed with written articles for the school newsletter and to be shared with the entire student body. The students learned to argue their views, yet respect each other’s differences. They effectively communicated their opinions, ideas, and information through ASL and English, having already grown up with an early language foundation, usually sign language.

“My AP English class is great. I get stimulated by discussions with others with shared interests, and yet have different views,” said senior Karina who has taken an AP English Literature course the previous year at CSDR, and passed the AP test for college credit. This senior, who is also a national all-star player on CSDR’s Deaf Academic Bowl team, aims high. “I want to master the test again this year. My goal is to study hard, practice on my AP test preparation book, learn as much as I can day by day.” Classmate and friend Aurora quipped in, “Definitely… I’m learning a lot in this class!”

On a school-wide basis, CSDR is also focusing on increasing students’ academic vocabulary. Specialist Hausman highlighted, “We have recently implemented a “Word of the Week” program to expose our students, regardless of grade or skill level, to academic language that is frequently used on state tests. The word is posted across campus and is accessible through our intranet where all staff can see a short video clip of the ASL sign that is used to represent the word. Our High School students are helping to “spread the word” by demonstrating the vocabulary on the daily school TV program, “ASL News.”

CSDR Speech Language Therapists Leah Adlesberger, Wendy Keedy, Joan Jackson, and Wendy Green integrate the Word of the Week into therapy sessions. For instance, students work on multiple meanings addressing “word of the week”. Another activity ties curriculum vocabulary with the goal of increasing intelligibility of multisyllabic words.

CSDR serves deaf and hard-of-hearing students from eleven counties in Southern California. In addition to teaching courses directly to deaf students who attend the school, CSDR offers “DeafTEC” training to other programs to help deaf and hard-of-hearing students meet the state standards. Some of our students begin enrollment at CSDR during their middle or high school years, without sufficient language skills and prior academic readiness to learn. It is vital to support their language and academic needs elsewhere, and for the common shared goal of improving the education of all deaf and hard-of-hearing children in California.

CSDR DeafTEC coordinator Denise Hamilton explains:

“One of the big challenges with the Common Core, and Deaf and hard-of-hearing students in a general educational program, is the Listening and Speaking strand when considering the shared use of an interpreter or moving amplification equipment to accommodate communication needs. In mainstream programs, deaf students face a greater obstacle in meeting these rubric criteria due to limited access. Discussions, group dialogue, and turn taking are often a source of anxiety or cause for withdrawal. DeafTEC is a professional development opportunity for general education teachers on how to successfully integrate deaf students in the classroom; empower hearing and deaf students to utilize a variety of resources to communicate effectively; and simultaneously, through collaboration with peers, meet multiple strands of CCS standards.”

Auditory and Speech Support

Speech Village

The Speech Village is located in the Elementary Speech Office. Filled in this space is a make-believe environment of several different stores and restaurants - a fast food joint, a pet store, an ice cream shop, Home Depot, Target, and a bank. Its purpose is to give our speech students an opportunity to use their speaking, listening, writing, thinking, and speech reading skills in real life situations. As an added bonus, students also improve their social skills and money counting skills by interacting in different roles and giving/receiving appropriate change. Each venue offers the students the opportunity to role-play as both a worker and a customer. For example, when portraying a customer at the pet store, the students might ask the worker, “Do you have lizards?” or “May I pet the rabbits, please?” When students have completed communication tasks for a venue, we go on a field trip to the store or restaurant. The students choose which mode of communication they want to use with real clerks who do not know ASL.

One of the benefits of the Speech program at CSDR is our multi-grade level peer mentoring, where our younger kids get to be involved with activities hosted by our older students. For instance, Middle School Speech students hosted a “Speechtacular” Breakfast for elementary students in the Speech Village. For this breakfast activity, the Middle School students had an enjoyable time taking orders, serving food, and reading stories to the elementary students. After weeks of practicing food and drink items, the elementary students got to walk in to a restaurant-style setting. They were greeted by the host where they said their name and took a number. Moving on to the next station, they ordered their food: Pop Tart, waffle, or pancake. Next they ordered fruit: banana, apple, or grapes, and finally they ordered a drink: milk, water, or orange juice. Then they waited patiently until they “heard” their number. The best part was eating at tables set up while they watched an ASL Poem and listened to a story about saying “Please”. The students use their functional skills in a functional setting and practice multiple forms of communication while having FUN (that is the goal of our program – FUNctional)!

The elementary and middle school students love attending Speech Village! Come by to visit!

On-Site Multisensory Sound Lab

What is sound? How do sound waves travel? What do different noises sound like? For many of our Deaf students, sound is an abstract concept that has been difficult to understand, until now. With the installation of the “Multisensory Sound Lab”, a new understanding and experience of sound is possible. In the lab, sound is not just perceived through your ears, but through your whole body.

What is the Multisensory Sound Lab? It is a specially designed room that converts sound energy into other mediums that can be experienced by Deaf individuals, such as vibrations and lights. There are eight interlocking floor panels on top of foam blocks that vibrate when sound is transmitted through the system. Students can sit or stand on the floorboards to feel the vibrations. A light tower, laser, speech analyzer, and television screen are some of the visual displays to show the loudness, pitch, quality, and rhythm of sound. There are also loudspeakers to amplify the sound. The room is equipped with a CD player, microphones, and musical instruments, as well as audio jacks to plug in with various technological devices (mp3 players, computers, phones, etc.).

The Applications of the MultiSensory Sound Lab include:

Here are some examples of how students experience the Sound Lab in an enjoyable manner. The younger elementary students practice making various sounds with the microphone and speech analyzer such as a cat saying “Meow,” a pirate saying “Arrrghh!” and a pumpkin laughing “Hee-hee-hee.” After learning about how sound traditionally travels through the ear, middle school students have multisensory musical experiences in the sound lab with Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller”. The students are intrigued by the different sensations of sounds on the CD track such as doors creaking, footsteps approaching, thunder crashing, and the maniacal laughter at the end of the song. Students enjoy seeing, feeling, and moving to the beat in a newly discovered way!


Interim Assessment

CSDR is a data-driven” school. The instructional focus on what and how we teach our students is dependent upon the feedback we receive from Interim Assessments regarding which concepts students are learning well and which they are struggling to grasp. The K-12 Math Program provides Interim Assessments (IA) 4-5 times a year to all students in the regular program curriculum. Teachers receive test results within 24 hours so they can quickly meet and redefine their teaching focus for math objectives. Each assessment tests both current and formerly taught concepts to ensure students retention of material that helps prepare them for taking the formal state test in April/May. The IA results from the previous year compared to subsequent yeasr are showing student improvement at a variety of grade levels.

Additionally, the English Language Arts Program in the Elementary Department uses the Unit Assessments that are part of the state adopted reading program. Students who are reading on grade level are completing the scheduled assessments five times this school year. Areas tested include reading comprehension, writing strategies, grammar, mechanics and usage, spelling, vocabulary and writing a response to a prompt. Parents are encouraged to check with classroom teachers regarding recent test results and to be aware of the next testing dates.

We value school-wide consistent tests across classrooms in addition to our current informal and formal assessments. What happens in the classroom connects meaningfully to state testing and student achievement.

Standards-Based Grading

We have adopted a standards-based grading system in the secondary programs. The grading system has been transformed from the traditional method to standards-based grading. Standards-based grading (SBG) breaks down the academic subject into content areas and reports a child’s progress in mastering standards following a rubric system with a 1-to-4 scale. This new system was researched and developed by Dr. Robert Marzano after the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law was implemented. The adoption of a standards-based grading philosophy means our students will always be graded with mastery of a standard in mind. Work habits and behavior are not graded in this system. For instance, homework, participation, and effort will not count toward a grade. Homework is considered to be one of many opportunities for a student to practice a standard that is being taught in the class. The goal of SBG is to provide multiple opportunities to measure whether a student has met the standards. For example, an A would be given to a student who independently demonstrates proficiency and exceeds understanding in course concepts and skills based on a variety of assessment tools.

What is the role of homework in SBG?

The purposes for assigning homework include the following:

Homework scores are not usually included in the assessment of standards, unless the assignment is designed to show mastery. The student’s grade will indicate how well he/she has mastered the content, not whether he/she completes assignments. Work ethic related to homework will be reflected separately from the academic grade. How does a standards-based report card improve teaching and learning? Knowing where the students are in their progress toward meeting standards-based learning targets is crucial for planning and carrying out classroom instruction. Teachers teach to the needs of their students. The new grading system is designed to give teachers more information about the student’s progress in meeting the level of proficiency required by each standard. In addition, teachers share the standards with students and parents, helping them to better understand the learning that needs to take place.

How will “incompletes” be handled in the high school?

If we use standards-based grading to report a student’s progress toward the achievement of a standard, it is an on-going process. For management reasons, we need to establish deadlines by which that progress needs to be reported. However, if a student is still progressing toward the standard at such a time when a report is needed, such as report card time, an incomplete may be given. If, two weeks after that deadline has passed, the student hasn’t demonstrated his full potential on the standard (through reteaching and correctives), the grade should be recorded based on the evidence that the teacher has, or continue as an incomplete if the student’s performance is still progressing. The principal should be consulted and parents informed in extreme cases.

We continuously work closely with students, staff, and parents on continuing “Best Practices” for the 21st century. For more information, contact your child’s principal.

Measures of Academic Progress

What exactly is MAP?

Well, MAP is essentially a computer-based achievement test that is given to our students from grades 2 through 11. It is administered each academic school year during the fall and spring. MAP assesses the students’ skills primarily in three areas – reading, language, and math. Each test typically takes an average of 45 minutes to complete. Here is a typical math question found on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP):

Why is this test so unique?

Our students find the test particularly user-friendly because it’s not your average paper and pencil style test, but rather a computer-based application. Also, the test is very ingenious in that it caters to the level of the student. In other words, if the student misses a question, he will next be given an easier one; however, if he gets the question right, it will be followed by one that is more difficult.

What do the MAP scores tell us about the student? The scores are threefold. First, they tell us if the student is functioning at an average, below average, or above average level compared to a typical student at his/her grade level. Second, the student’s scores are matched to very specific goals in math, reading, and language. The teacher will then be able to focus on the needs of each individual student by using these precise goals for class instruction. Finally, the student’s expected amount of academic growth for the upcoming school year can be calculated based on his/her grade level and present MAP score.

Note: Student results are sent home every spring to show academic growth from fall to spring.

How are our students performing? Students typically showed considerable annual growth in reading and math. In conclusion, we have found the MAP test to be a “good fit” for our school. CSDR’s scores and academic growth will continue to improve!


Extended Learning Opportunities

The school day schedule includes an Intervention period that is 24 minutes long at the end of the day. This class time is used to provide additional assistance to students: help with homework, vocabulary lessons, Deaf culture lessons, student support services, and study skills. Intervention time is also used for Pep Rallies, class meetings, and short assemblies, which limits “time out of class” for such events. Tutoring is also available to students after school or during lunch periods depending on individual teachers.

In addition to the curriculum programs, CSDR offers additional courses and support services to its high school students. These services are designed to assist students in obtaining the most from the educational experience. A partial list of these services includes:

Instructional Technology

The use of technology to teach in all content areas is increasingly prevalent. All classrooms have Liquid Crystal Display projector technology (LCDs), and each has one or more computer for student use. Classrooms also have large interactive touch whiteboards. Many of the school textbooks are accessible online.

Two ASL (American Sign Language) computer labs are also provided for students in Middle School and High School and to support the ongoing implementation of the Bi-lingual Best Practices program. VoiceThread has been implemented; this is an application which supports the development of students’ ASL (American Sign Language) skills by allowing students and teachers to capture, share, and comment on signed video clips.

The CSDR technology department has purchased and/or established special technology equipment, programs and apps for instructional purposes. CSDR’s technology standards for students have been updated to align with the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), and performance standards checklists were created to ensure accountability for the development of students’ technology skills. A web portal for students was created to allow easy access to all educational applications and curriculum materials. Additionally, the use of ST Math (Spatial-Temporal Math), which offers students a visual approach for learning math and implements a data-driven system to analyze student achievement and to recognize students’ accomplishments, has been extended school-wide.

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California School for the Deaf, Riverside

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Riverside, CA 92506

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California School for the Deaf, Riverside (CSDR)