Garfield Re-2 School District looks to improve student achievement
With some students performing below their actual grade level, Garfield Re-2 School District leaders spent Monday’s board meeting asking themselves how they can improve the district’s quality of education.
Figures provided by Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Julie Knowles show a portion of students kindergarten through eighth grade are either deficient in math or reading.
Winter student achievement figures specifically show 66% of students who are performing at one, two or three grades below their actual grade in reading standards, with the remaining percentage of those students operating at or above their grade level. For math, 76% of the Re-2 student body in K-8 is deficient.
“There’s a lot of kids that are three grade levels or two grade levels below where they need to be,” Re-2 Board Member Tom Slappey said. “And if that’s the case, we’re failing — period.”
The numbers are based on i-Ready, a diagnostic which aligns with Colorado standardized testing. Knowles said the district has been following such a standard since 2015.
Prior to that year, however, Re-2’s standardized testing used to align with the Colorado Student Assessment Program, which showed about 70% of the K-8 student body on par with their grade level. But, Knowles said, when the district began following a new state standard, the “bar jumped that high.”
“This is an issue we’ve known about for a very long time and we are working on,” she said. “So we can’t attribute it all to (COVID-19).”
Knowles also acknowledged figures from 2019 to present day included scores from students grades 6 through 8, meaning more recent data could be skewed with the addition of more students. Earlier data only represented students grades K-5.
Figures before 2019 show 32% and 41% of Re-2 students performing at or above their grade level, at math and reading, respectively.
District officials, however, are also acknowledging COVID-19 to factor into the data. Knowles said because the district cannot deviate from cohorts, teachers are unable to intervene and pull students aside when they’re noticeably getting behind in their work.
Meanwhile, one obstacle is that various school administrators and coaches are currently not allowed to enter classrooms, Knowles noted.
“We can’t do that now because of cohorts,” she said. “Schools have had to completely reinvent the way they are intervening with kids, and their hands are tied in a lot of ways.”
School board members then asked whether the data also reveal student demographics, and if that element affects the data.
“It’s hard because you’re not seeing the students behind it necessarily — English language learners, poverty levels…,” Board President Anne Guettler said.
Nevertheless, the district has seen an increase in proficiency between fall and winter. Math scores especially, have seen a positive change — bumping up from 10% in the fall to 23% in the winter for students performing at above their grade level.
“That is definitely a trend you want to see in the right direction,” Knowles said. In addition she testing scores with the district do reflect the national average.
The board requested further information and data regarding standardized test scores to be presented at the next board meeting.
“It’s time we get back to the blocking and tackling of our education system and teaching our kids,” Slappey said “And I look at these numbers and I’m deeply troubled by them, that there’s something systematically wrong.”
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Independence Pass remains closed Friday morning because of snow drifts and winter driving conditions on the narrow road, a Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman said in an update Friday morning.