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Carbondale school improves scores

Carbondale Elementary School made significant strides in its effort to improve Colorado Student Assessment Program scores this year, and school and district administrators thank a state-mandated school improvement plan and significant changes in curriculum for the improvement.This year 49.5 percent of Carbondale Elementary third-graders scored proficient or advanced on their CSAP reading test, a 14 point increase over 2004 scores of 35 percent. The 2005 number is an unofficial and preliminary number from the Colorado Department of Education, but are a good indication of actual scores. “Teachers have been working their tails off with kids just to get this kind of turnaround,” said co-principal Karen Olson.The turnaround began in earnest in November after the state put the school on an improvement plan by the state in August, Olson and Roaring Fork School District assistant superintendent Judy Haptonstall said. “It was a very significant change,” Haptonstall said. In October, the state sent a support team of outside teachers to help Carbondale Elementary improve, and the team offered common-sense suggestions. In November, the district persuaded teachers to sign on to new reading programs and to narrow focus and increase the amount of time spent on reading, Haptonstall said. The changes actually brought Carbondale Elementary more in line with what other elementary schools in the district had been doing, she said. Students took the CSAP this spring, and the improvement in score is the result of just four months under the new curriculum, the women said. Carbondale Elementary third-grade reading performance had decreased from 54 percent scoring proficient or better in 2002 to 38 percent in 2003 to 35 percent in 2004. Despite the improvement to nearly 50 percent, Olson said she still recognized the work left to be done. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” she said. But “I have a flashlight, and I think a pretty good map.”While Carbondale Elementary School improved significantly in its third-grade reading CSAP score other schools in the district remained largely unchanged.Sopris Elementary dropped slightly from 84 percent to 81 percent. The change is not statistically significant, and probably results form the school testing just 47 kids, said principal Howard Jay. With so few kids, each child’s score has a bigger impact on the overall percentage.A highlight at Sopris Elementary continues to be the number of advanced students the school produces – 23 percent of Sopris third-graders scored advanced.At Glenwood Springs Elementary School and Basalt Elementary School 72 and 77 percent of third-grade readers scored proficient or better.The statewide average is 71 percent. Despite better than average scores, a large discrepancy remains between the scores of Anglo and Latino students.At least 85 percent of the Anglo students in each elementary school scored proficient or advanced on the third-grade reading CSAP. At Sopris Elementary 94 percent of Anglo students scored in that range. Carbondale Elementary’s Anglo score increased from 63 percent past year to 85 percent this year.The percentage of Latino students scoring in that range is much lower, however, with scores as low as 24 percent at Carbondale Elementary to near 50 percent at Glenwood Springs Elementary School and Sopris Elementary, to 61 percent at Basalt Elementary School. The statewide average for “Hispanic” students is 53 percent, according to the CDE. Haptonstall attributed the differences in Roaring Fork schools versus the state average to the non-English speaking students in the district. Ninety percent of Roaring Fork’s Latino students are English Language Learners, she said. English Language Learners are focused on learning English, then on learning other skills, said Sonya Hemmen, principal of GSES.Though the CSAP is available in Spanish on limited basis to fourth-graders, the third-grade CSAP is not.


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