Garfield Re-2 officials explore ways to bolster student achievement |

Garfield Re-2 officials explore ways to bolster student achievement

The number of Garfield Re-2 students performing at their current grade level is slowly improving, a district administrator told the school board Feb. 23

Garfield Re-2 Curriculum, Assessment and Special Program Director Julie Knowles highlighted during a Wednesday workshop student achievement trends over nearly the past 10 years.

Data show about a 5% increase from 2018 to present day in elementary and middle school students who are performing at grade level in English, Knowles said.

Knowles said the increases stem from a new comprehensive professional development instructional model adopted by the district in 2016.

“It takes a couple years to get that flywheel turning, but, by 2019, you can see we had a nice 5% increase in the percent of students who were meeting expectations,” she said. “We started to get a little closer to the state’s average.”

Knowles also presented data showing a consistent rate of achievement in Re-2 high school students’ college admission testing scores.

While scores range 400-1,600 in the SATs, average scores for 11th graders at Garfield Re-2 range between 965 and 961 over the years.

But while student achievement has risen in recent years, academic performance is still lower at Garfield Re-2 than it was 10 years ago.

The district began seeing a downward trend in its students meeting grade level expectations after adopting Colorado Measures of Academic Achievement in 2015, Knowles said. The measure implements more rigorous standardized testing.

“Both the state and the district data took a big dive,” she said. “The slope was really about the same.”

For example, standardized testing for grades 3-8 decreased from 58% in 2012 to 36% by 2019. In math, the same age groups dropped from 56% in 2012 to 22% in 2019.

“At Re-2, one in three kids are where we want them to be,” Garfield Re-2 Curriculum, Assessment and Special Program Director Julie Knowles said. “Clearly, we have work to do.”

Speaking to just how rigorous new testing became for Garfield Re-2 students, Knowles said the district could potentially opt out. Such a move could risk receiving federal and state subsidies.

“The Feds wanted us to take it, and there’s a lot of money that our state and our district receives through our consolidated grants, and that’s kind of the string,” she said. “However, there were a lot of folks pushing for not doing it at all because instruction last year looks so crazy.”

There are several factors affecting student achievement data. Knowles said the data could further be broken down by aspects like which students are on free or reduced lunch, who’s special needs and minority gender status and more.

“We know learning happens best when an individual’s needs are being met,” Knowles said. “We have students in this district whose essential needs are not being met. They don’t have safe homes.”

School board members questioned whether the testing and data is truly reflective of the entire student body. Some students don’t always take the tests — which are not actually graded — seriously, while the standards generally vary from state to state.

But Knowles said testing is psychometrically sound, that results are reliable and valid.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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