Good gains, but ‘achievement gap’ at Roaring Fork School District Re-1 is still big |

Good gains, but ‘achievement gap’ at Roaring Fork School District Re-1 is still big

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Roaring Fork School District Re-1 officials are celebrating a marked rise in reading proficiency for both Anglo and Latino students, as measured by Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) test results released last week.

District Superintendent Judy Haptonstall noted that, for the first time ever, Latino students across the district are approaching or surpassing 50 percent proficient or advanced in reading.

Roughly 80 percent of those students, spanning grades 3 through 10 where CSAP tests are administered, are still participating in special English Language Learner (ELL) programs.

“With our Anglo student scores averaging 91 percent (proficient or advanced) in reading, we are not satisfied with 50 percent for Latino students,” Haptonstall said. “We certainly feel encouraged that the work of teachers and principals paid off in a big way for so many of our students.”

But, with growth for Anglo students outpacing the growth shown among Latino students, another ongoing concern is exacerbated – a growing “achievement gap” between the two ethnic groups.

Roaring Fork Re-1 (Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt schools) is one of six school districts in the state entering the second year of a three-year, $1.8 million pilot program aimed at closing the achievement gap between Anglo and Latino students.

While the gap in proficiency levels exists in many districts across the state, it is even more pronounced in the pilot districts.

In Re-1, which has a Latino student population of around 49 percent, that “gap” is about 40 percent. And the newly released test scores suggest the gap has not closed any.

“Our goal is to reduce the gap by 10 points, or better,” Haptonstall said in an April interview. “We may not see as big a change this first year, but we hope that over three years we will.”

The good news for Re-1 after the first year of the program is that both Anglo and Latino students continue to improve, as evidenced by the new student growth models included in the CSAP report, and in grade-level proficiency levels.

In test results for reading and writing, comparing 2008 results to this year, Re-1 posted more gains than losses in terms of the percentages of students scoring proficient or advanced. That includes grade-level and school-by-school comparisons, and breakdowns between Anglo and Latino students.

The biggest gains were in third grade reading, where a total of 72 percent of students across the district scored proficient or advanced, compared to 58 percent last year.

Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale posted a 20 percent gain in third-grade reading proficiency, from 37 percent in 2008 to 57 percent this year, including a remarkable 100 percent proficiency for Anglo students. Third-grade Latino students at CRES improved from just 28 percent proficient in reading to 43 percent.

Glenwood Springs’ two elementary schools saw gains in both third and fourth grade reading scores compared to last year, though fifth grade scores dropped off.

At Glenwood Springs Elementary School, 90 percent of Anglo third-graders and 85 percent of Anglo fourth-graders scored proficient or advanced, up an average of 10 percentage points.

Latino students in those grades at GSES also improved significantly, including a 52 percent proficiency among third-graders.

Sopris Elementary School maintains the highest reading proficiency level among Latino students at any grade level – 55 percent of Latino third-graders at SES scored proficient or advanced, up 12 percentage points from last year.

Ninety-three percent of Anglo third-graders at SES scored proficient or advanced, for an overall reading proficiency of 80 percent.

The Colorado Department of Education has made it easier to view individual school and district performance levels and growth models this year, at a new website,

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