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Pandemic dings Roaring Fork Schools’ spring 2021 testing


By The Numbers…

Percentage of test takers meeting or exceeding expectations:

Colorado Measures of Academic Success

English

Grade 3- 2019: 31.7%; 2021: 29.7%

Grade 5- 2019: 36%; 2021: 31.4%

Grade 8- 2019: 46.5%; 2021: 34.4%

Math

Grade 4- 2019: 20.9%; 2021: 19.1%

Grade 6- 2019: 27.8%; 2021: 16.7%

Grade 8- 2019: 35.9%; 2021: 30.4%

SAT

Evidence-based reading and writing- 2019: 59%; 2021: 58.5%

Mathematics- 2019: 45%; 2021: 39.9%

Mathematics was a highlight in a Spring 2021 standardized testing season weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic for the Roaring Fork School District.

With a year-gap in between data collection, Roaring Fork School District followed a state and national trend of taking steps backward in test results, both in expectations and participation rates. Across tests in Colorado Measures of Academic Success, SAT suite and Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress, Roaring Fork saw decreased participation across the board from the norm.

In the subjects of English Language Arts, district students fell below state and national averages in all available data.



In mathematics, Roaring Fork students fared close to or above state and national norms in most comparisons. In both categories, the gap between the percentage of Roaring Fork students and national or state comparisons generally closed as ages approached and reached high-school level.

In light of COVID-19 challenges, the Colorado Department of Education has cautioned against overemphasizing results from 2021 tests.



“These test results give us sobering data that confirm just how hard last year was with school closures, class quarantines and remote learning,” Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said in an August release.

The data has large holes and is a smaller representation of the student body than it has been previously, but the district is still using it, in part, to guide some actions centered around additional monitoring of student performance.

“We’ve been adjusting our existing practices basically for monitoring, assessing and responding to student progress,” Roaring Fork School District Chief Academic Officer Rick Holt said in the meeting.

Teachers are relying on unit assessments to track per-classroom performance. Holt also highlighted formal progress monitoring in language arts literacy.

Colorado Measures of Academic Success

Students in third, fifth and seventh grades were required to take an English Language Arts assessment. In each group, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations trailed the Colorado rate by 9.4%, 15.8% and 8.2%, respectively.

Student success in these grades from 2019 — there were no standardized tests in 2020 — dropped across the board to varying degrees, with 2.2% fewer third graders failing to meet expectations, 5.6% fewer fifth graders and 12.1% fewer seventh graders.

Median growth rates, however, showed that these backward steps may at least in part be attributable to learning loss from the pandemic. Cohort-referenced growth was 3% behind for fifth graders and 5% ahead for seventh graders, with similar results in baseline-referenced comparison that utilized pre-pandemic data.

In math, which was required at grades four, six and eight, younger students lagged behind significantly before catching up to Colorado norms. Only 19.1% of fourth graders and 16.7% of sixth graders met or exceeded expectations in Roaring Fork, 9.4% and 7.4% behind the state, respectively. Eighth graders performed .9% better than the state, at 30.4%.

Growth in mathematics in both grades six and eight also steadily outpaced Colorado in both cohort and baseline references. Sixth graders also saw an increase in growth percentile compared to 2019’s Roaring Fork class, the only instance across all standardized test data presented that showed progress since 2019.

SAT

In the SAT, Roaring Fork students met expectations at a 58.5% clip in evidence-based reading and writing and 39.9% in math. The former was 1.5% below the state rate, the latter was 3.6% above. Overall mean score for the district was 1013, virtually aligned with Colorado on the 400-1600 scale.

In pre-SAT data, reading and writing fell behind state norms but exceeded or was close to them in math.

Presenter Lindsay Cox noted that participation fell into the 80-89% range in SAT and its practice tests, where the district normally gets “high 90s.”

The Colorado Department of Education is still determining if growth in the SAT can be calculated, Cox said.

Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress

Students in grades one through eight take the district-level test in math and two through eight in reading each spring. By eighth grade, students in both subjects are within two points of the national norm.

The school district starts 11 points behind in reading in grade two, but is two shy of the national mean score of 222 by eighth grade. In math, eighth graders in Roaring Fork scored 229, compared to the nation’s 230.

In reading, the eighth-grade score is up compared to 2019’s 218 and is three points shy of 2018’s score. Eighth-grade math is down slightly from 2019’s 231 and 2018’s 234.

Growth data on the tests will be available following the 2022 assessment season.


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