Re-2 scores still below state average |

Re-2 scores still below state average

Amanda Holt Miller
Western Garfield County Staff

RIFLE ” Garfield Re-2 School District administrators said Tuesday they are pleased with the 2005 Colorado Student Assessment Program scores, but still see the need for significant improvement.

The CSAP tests students throughout the state on specific reading, writing and math standards. Schools and school districts are judged for improvement and level of proficiency as compared to the state average. While Re-2 scores improved in 17 of 25 testing categories, the district’s numbers still fall short of the state averages in most cases, said Re-2 director of curriculum Sam Humphrey.

However, Re-2 assistant superintendent Ava Lanes said the district has put forth a conscious effort to change that.

“We thought we were paying more attention to student progress than we really were,” Lanes said.

The district began revamping its curriculum last year, focusing more on the standards it wants students to achieve than the programs it uses to get there.

“We had become program-based instead of using the program as a tool,” Lanes said.

Now the district has adopted a standards-based curriculum, focusing on the skills administrators and teachers think are the most important for students to learn, Lanes said.

“We want the curriculum to look the same at all of the schools,” said Julie Knowles, the district assessment coordinator ” a new position this year. “And we want it to look the same at all schools at the same time of year.”

Roy Moore Elementary principal School Lisa Whitmore said the district’s emphasis on standards has affected the schools.

“We’ve narrowed our focus,” Whitmore said. “We picked ” this is the information kids need to know and we use that. Instead of teaching what’s in the unit in the textbook, the teachers are more evaluative.”

At Roy Moore, 98 percent of last year’s third-graders scored proficient and advanced in reading. This year only 74 percent did. Whitmore thinks that speaks to one of the issues with the CSAP test. The CSAP compares students from the same grade level in different years.

“They’re different kids,” Whitmore said. “It’s almost like comparing apples and oranges.”

Whitmore said last year’s third-graders are an exceptional group. As fourth-graders this year, they scored 84 percent in reading and more than 15 percentage points higher than last year’s fourth-graders in reading and writing.

“The CSAP is a good assessment for accountability,” Knowles said. “We report back to the public and compare with the state.”

The district also conducts an internal test at the beginning and end of each school year, the measured academic progress test, which provides almost immediate results. Teachers get individual student scores 24 hours after the test, and scores for their entire classes within 72 hours.

“The MAP can impact general classroom instruction,” Knowles said.

The CSAP has impacted instruction as well. In an effort to bring scores up to state standards, the district has made changes. Humphrey emphasized that the district has managed to maintain its level of achievement despite changing demographics.

“But that’s not enough,” he added.

English language learners have increased from 8 percent of the student population in 1998-99 to 18 percent of the student population in 2005. Humphrey also said the student population that qualifies for free and reduced lunch has increased by 50 percent since 1999.

Humphrey said free and reduced lunch numbers are the No. 1 indicators of student performance nationally.

“But we don’t ever want that to be seen as a reason or an excuse,” Humphrey said. “It can’t be.”

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