Latest Roaring Fork Schools test results show mix of improvement, areas that need work

Roaring Fork District schools, though trailing the state average in English scores, did show improvement in the grade-level testing compared to the previous year, according to a breakdown of the recently released results from the spring testing period.

And, academic growth results — the measure of individual students year over year — “illustrate gains in catching students up to proficiency,” according a presentation that was to be given to the Board of Education on Wednesday evening.

“Across grades 3-8, 39% of Roaring Fork School students met or exceeded grade level expectations [in English],” Lindsay Cox, data analyst for the district, wrote in the presentation. “This is a 0.5% increase from spring 2018 results, but below the state average of 45.8% proficiency for grades 3-8.”

However, the percent of students meeting or exceeding grade-level expectations in math in the year-over-year comparison dropped off for primary grade students in the district that includes schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

The 28.6% of students who met or exceeded expectations in math signaled a 0.5% decrease from 2018 rates and was lower than the state average of 34.7%. 

“Growth data in math, however, demonstrates that the growth of Roaring Fork students is on par with state benchmarks,” Cox said in the presentation.

“The median growth percentile for all students (grades 4-8) in Roaring Fork Schools is 52 in 2019, as compared to 49 in 2018.  The Colorado median growth percentile in English Language Arts for 2019 was 50.

A further breakdown of the English test scores by grade level shows that Roaring Fork students performed better compared to the state average at the middle school level, according to the scores released earlier this month by the Colorado Department of Education.

Especially in seventh and eighth grade, the local schools were virtually on par with the state. At the seventh-grade level, 46.5% of students locally met or exceeded expectations, same as the state average. In eighth grade, 46.7% of students met the mark locally, compared to 46.9% for the state as a whole.

On the growth side, seventh graders in the Roaring Fork Schools were at the 58.5 median growth percentile (meaning they performed better than 58.5% of their peers). Local eighth graders were at the 56th growth percentile, according to the report.

In math, eighth graders locally were at the 64th percentile for growth, and sixth and seventh grades each saw growth at the 54th percentile.

Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein said it’s important to note that the local schools have a higher percentage of non-native English language learners than the state as a whole, which is reflected in test scores. That’s especially true at the younger grade levels, he said.

As those students gain a better grasp of the language, that gap closes as they get into middle school, Stein said.

The report also looked at the pre-SAT and SAT scores for district ninth, 10th and 11th graders compared to the state.

“Overall, the composite mean score for the SAT Suite of assessments improved from 2018 to 2019,” Cox indicated in the report.

Compared to the rest of Colorado, Roaring Fork Schools outperformed the state in ninth and 11th grades, and was on par with the state at the 10th-grade level, she said. 

“Roaring Fork Schools had increased rates of college readiness,” Cox wrote. “Per College Board guidelines and cut points, 41% of Roaring Fork Schools’ students met both college readiness benchmarks on the SAT.  At a state level, 37% of students met both benchmarks.”

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