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Growth model added to state student achievement report

Local school districts have a new set of numbers to pore over, evaluate and make adjustments to, with the Colorado Department of Education’s public release Friday of its annual Student Achievement Results report.

For the first time, in addition to the report’s measure of student proficiency by grade level in reading, writing, math and science, there’s now a “Growth Model” that tracks students’ individual progress from year to year.

“Overall, the state-level data paint a picture of both short-term and longer-term progress toward the state’s goals, especially among non-majority groups,” according to a Colorado Department of Education (CDE) press release accompanying the report. “The Growth Model reveals patterns in CSAP (Colorado Student Assessment Program) results that cannot be produced by a simple, snapshot analysis.”



The full report, including summaries of the new data and a breakdown of the Growth Model and CSAP results by school district and individual school, can be found at the CDE’s website (www.cde.state.co.us). Local districts will also be sending out individual student, school and district data reports to parents this fall.

Local education officials say the Growth Model is a big step in the right direction in terms of obtaining a more realistic measure of how students are progressing, rather than how a group of students, as determined by grade level, is compared from year to year.



“One of the things we’ve always said is that, ‘No, we may not be scoring proficient at a grade level or in a particular school, but look how far we came [compared to previous years],'” Roaring Fork Re-1 School District Superintendent Judy Haptonstall said. “The new information at least recognizes that growth matters too.”

Julie Knowles, the Garfield Re-2 School District’s director of assessment and special programs, said that she, too, is pleased to have the new growth information included as part of the state’s Student Achievement Report.

“It gives us another dimension in looking at school performance,” she said. “Until now, the only measure we had was the percentage of students scoring satisfactory or advanced, which is kind of a static view. The Growth Model helps capture growth that a student may have experienced, instead of just their overall achievement level.

“It’s giving us a more sophisticated look at our school performance,” she said.

The Growth Model reveals that, overall, Re-1 students (Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt) in grades 4 through 10 exceed the state’s median growth percentile of 50 in reading by six points, up three points from the past two years. Grades 8 and 9 exceeded the state target by more than 10 points, and 7th grade by 19 points.

Lagging behind for Re-1, however, are 4th and 5th grades, which fell 8 points and 3 points, respectively, below the state’s target for growth in reading. Writing and math scores revealed a similar trend at those grade levels.

“That was true across the district, and it is a concern,” Haptonstall said. “There is something there programmatically that we need to take a look at.”

Student proficiency and growth in math scores also continues to be a concern for Re-1, as well as statewide, although the local district is still on par with or exceeds the state’s targets.

“Math achievement is not where we want it to be,” Haptonstall said. “We have some new materials ready to go this fall to address that.”

The new growth model also includes percentages of students who are “catching up,” “keeping up” and “moving up” in terms of meeting proficiency standards in the areas of assessment.

“With the growth model in place, we can reassure parents that their students are increasing their academic growth from year to year and are scoring very well in comparison to the state,” Haptonstall said. “This data is especially important when looking at our Anglo students who already score very high because we can also demonstrate with the growth model that they are growing academically every year.”

The district’s high levels of Anglo student achievement does serve to exacerbate the achievement gap that exists between Anglo and Latino students, she noted.

But, Latino students made some impressive gains in terms of growth, she added.

“For the first time, we are approaching or surpassing a 50 percent proficient or advanced rating with our Latino students in reading,” Haptonstall said. “We identified 151 Latino students district-wide for improvement in reading performance, and we saw an increase in reading for 149 of those students.”

Garfield Re-2 schools (New Castle, Silt and Rifle), as a whole, came in slightly below the state’s growth target for reading, writing and math, although certain grades levels performed better in terms of growth.

“Re-2 experienced growth or maintenance in 20 out of 27 assessments,” Knowles explained in a letter to the Re-2 school board outlining the CSAP results and growth modeling. That’s better than the student growth experienced last year, but below the growth levels in 2007, she said.

“In all content areas, we are between 7 percent and 13 percent below the state average for proficient or advanced when all of the scores are collapsed into one percentage,” Knowles said.

However, the district continues to score at the state average for partially proficient, proficient and advanced, she said.

In terms of growth, Re-2 fell 2 points below the state’s target for reading as a whole, but exceeded the target for 5th and 8th grades.

“We definitely have to take a systems approach, and look at what that overall trend is,” Knowles said in an interview. “What it’s telling us is that, in spite of significant growth in the district in recent years, we are very stable (in terms of student achievement). We have not experienced that fluctuation that a lot of districts have.

“There has been a lot of focus on our ELL (English Language Learner) students, and we are close to making the 50th percentile growth target in that area,” she said.

Another positive trend was in 3rd grade reading, she said. And Elk Creek Elementary School, in particular, scored above the state average in all third grade content areas.

“We are really excited about the growth data, because it’s going to shift the conversation,” Knowles said. “We can celebrate student efforts and our efforts to help kids grow, even though they are not yet proficient.”

jstroud@postindependent.com


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