Latest student test scores still lagging, but growth data shows promise for Garfield County districts
Each spring, students third through 11th grades across Colorado take the state assessment tests, and by August those results are provided to local school districts.
In the primary grades, the tests measure students’ grasp of English language skills (reading and writing) and in math, via the Colorado Measures of Academic Success assessments, or CMAS.
The results show two Garfield County school districts — Roaring Fork Re-1 (Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt), and Garfield Re-2 (New Castle, Silt and Rifle) still have work to do to keep up with the state average for achieving grade-level English and math skills in those grades.
In English, just 35.6% of Re-2 students met or exceeded expectations, and 39% for Roaring Fork students; compared to 45.8% statewide.
Likewise, in math, only 22.2% of Re-2 students and 28.6% of Roaring Fork District students met or exceeded expectations, compared to 34.7% statewide.
By the Numbers
55th — Growth percentile for Roaring Fork District ninth, 10th and 11th graders in reading and writing, as measured by the state-issued pre-SAT and SAT tests that were administered in spring 2019.
57th — Growth percentile in math testing scores for Roaring Fork District freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
39% — Percent of Roaring Fork District students in grades three through eight who met or exceeded expectations in English language skills (reading and writing) during spring 2019 CMAS testing. Conversely, 14.9% of students in that age group did not meet expectations, and the rest fell in the middle between partially meeting and approaching expectations.
28.6% — Percent of Roaring Fork District third through eighth graders meeting or exceeding math expectations, compared to 34.7% statewide. 17.1% of students locally did not meet expectations.
35.6% — Percent of Garfield District Re-2 (Rifle, Silt and New Castle) students, grades three through eight, who met or exceeded expectations in English. For District 16 (Parachute schools) that number was 22.9%
22.2% — Percent of Garfield Re-2 students, grades three through eight, who met or exceeded math expectations in state CMAS testing. District 16 had 13.1% of students in that age group meeting or exceeding the math expectations.
45.8% — Statewide percentage of third-through-eighth graders meeting or exceeding expectations in English language skills.
34.7% — Statewide percentage of third-through-eighth graders meeting or exceeding expectations in math.
Source: Colorado Department of Education data for 2019
For high school students — grades nine, 10 and 11 — academic skills in those same disciplines are measured using the pre-SAT (ninth and 10th grades) and the SAT tests (college boards) for 11th graders.
In addition to receiving the results of the grade-level testing, districts also receive growth data. This measures individual students and groups of students in terms of academic growth year to year.
It’s those growth numbers that are more telling, and more applicable in terms of measuring how a district is doing in achieving student success, said Rob Stein, Roaring Fork District superintendent of schools.
“The tests themselves give us a good snapshot of how kids did in a particular year at a specific grade level,” Stein said. “But we really look at that growth, and the subgroup comparisons, to see how we’re doing.
“And, looking at our English language and math growth report, overall our students had higher growth than the state as a whole.”
The testing is required to measure student learning compared to expectations set by the Colorado state Board of Education, which also ties to federal mandates.
“It is the testing we are required to do both per federal law as well as state law,” said Julie Knowles, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for Garfield District Re-2.
“We also assess science in grades five, eight and 11, and then we assess social studies in grades four and seven,” Knowles said.
Science and social studies testing are not done every year, however.
The testing process assesses both achievement and growth, she said.
“Both questions are important — how many kids are meeting the expectation and how many kids are growing towards the expectation,” Knowles said.
The achievement side asks the question of whether the students are meeting a grade-level expectation. If not, districts can then look at whether a student is making satisfactory progress toward the standard.
If they are on track, that is where the growth comes in.
The CMAS testing results were released by the Colorado Department of Education last week, followed by the SAT suite test results, and the growth data this week.
According to the Garfield Re-2 district, growth in English language arts over the last three years has increased an average of 11 points per grade level, with fifth grade seeing a 30-point increase in student growth this year.
In the Roaring Fork District, at the high school level, Stein said he was pleased to see district students performing at the 55th percentile in terms of growth in reading and writing skills, and at the 57th percentile in math.
“That is a significant margin above the state in terms of how our kids are growing, and it’s also an improvement over last year,” he said.
For more on the Garfield Re-2 testing results, see this week’s Citizen Telegram. And, for information about Colorado’s State assessments, go to http://www.cde.state.co.us/communications/resourcesforparents.
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