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District can learn from its own ‘high-performing’ schools

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – While two out of 12 Roaring Fork Re-1 District schools made the state of Colorado’s list for “High Performing Schools” as measured by sustained academic progress over three years, others continue to be inconsistent in their performance from year to year.

That means the district needs to study what is working at Basalt Middle and High schools in terms of maintaining academic performance levels in math, and model that approach at its other schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

The two Basalt schools were among 161 school across the state that demonstrated the highest sustained rates of student academic progress over the last three years, based on data contained in the 2008-09 Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) report issued on Friday.



“For the last three to five years, Basalt Middle School and Basalt High School have done very well in terms of maintaining student growth and achievement, and that’s not true in the rest of the district,” Re-1 Superintendent Judy Haptonstall said.

“We are looking at those schools and what we can learn from them,” she said.



Part of it relates to use of different curriculum approaches, she said. For instance, a math program that has been used in the middle and upper grades at Basalt will be used district-wide starting this fall.

“We’ve also had less turnover with some of the staff in those schools, and that can make a difference as well,” Haptonstall said.

Districts around the state can learn from the highest-performing schools, according to Colorado Department of Education Associate Commissioner Richard Wenning.

“We believe by shining light on the highest performing schools, we encourage and empower educators to strive to meet higher levels of performance based on what is already happening in some schools in Colorado,” Wenning said in a press release announcing the statewide CSAP and new Student Growth Model results.

The high-performing schools demonstrated 60th percentile or higher median growth in at least one assessment area for at least three years running (2007, 2008 and 2009).

Other area schools making the list included Aspen Elementary School, Aspen Community School, Gypsum Creek Middle School and Edwards Elementary School.

While proficiency levels in reading, writing and math remain mixed, it was the improvement based on the new student growth model shown over three years that put the two Basalt schools on the list.

Basalt Middle School showed steady growth in reading test results (grades 6-8 combined), coming in 22 points above the state’s target for growth this year. It was the third straight year of 60th percentile growth or better in reading

Test scores for Basalt High School math students are also growing faster than the rest of the district’s high schools, coming in 19 points above the state’s growth target; also the third straight year of 60th percentile growth or better for BHS in math.

“During the 08-09 school year, we spent a great deal of time examining our math curriculum and instruction and have plans in place to address this issue beginning this fall,” Haptonstall said. “As in other areas, our Anglo scores are above the state average, but the same is not true for our Latino students, causing the overall average to fall below the state average.”

The complete list of “High Performing Schools” and other district, school and state CSAP and Growth Model information is posted on the Colorado Department of Education website, [www.cde.state.co.us].

jstroud@postindependent.com


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