Test scores for Re-1 riding state average
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The latest round of state test scores for Roaring Fork School District Re-1 schools were the usual mixed bag of gains and setbacks for the different grade levels and academic areas tested.
But the district remains on par with the state average for the most part, and in some cases exceeds it, interim Re-1 Superintendent Diana Sirko noted in an interview Tuesday.
And it’s also important to look at trends for specific groups of students over several years for a broader picture, Sirko said, rather than just the year-to-year test score comparisons.
“There certainly are some areas where the district needs to direct its focus,” said Sirko, who takes the helm in Re-1 for the 2012-13 school year after spending three years as a deputy commissioner with the Colorado Department of Education.
“We are seeing good progress over several years of data, and we have gained ground in terms of the state averages,” Sirko said, following the release of the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) scores by state officials last week.
In reading, Re-1 matched or exceeded the state average for the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced, ranging between 67 percent and 74 percent, in four of the eight grade levels tested.
At the grade levels where Re-1 fell short of the state average, the district was within two or three percentage points.
The only exception was at the seventh grade level, which was five percentage points below the state average of 68 percent for reading proficiency.
Comparisons to the state average for proficiency in writing and math were about the same as they were in reading for Re-1 schools.
TCAP is the interim test program replacing the former Colorado Student Assessment Program, as the state begins its transition to new, more rigorous standards.
The standards tests are administered each spring to public school students in third through 10th grades.
What remains apparent in the annual test scores is that Re-1 continues to have a significant achievement gap between its Latino and Anglo students. The same is true for many other Colorado school districts with large percentages of Latino immigrant students.
“We are still certainly concerned about the achievement gap,” Sirko said. “Even so, there are still some success stories when you look at the growth trends.”
A breakout of the test scores between native Anglo students and the district’s large percentage of Latino immigrant students shows a significant gap.
From the fifth through the eighth grades, between 75 and 95 percent of Anglo students are scoring proficient or advanced in reading, while only 31 to 66 percent of their Latino student counterparts are proficient or advanced.
“It’s purely anecdotal, but we do have children who, when they walk through the door in fifth grade, haven’t been in a school anywhere before that,” Sirko said.
Even after three or four years in school, they may still be scoring in the unsatisfactory or partially proficient range, she said. But, over that same amount of time many of those students have shown growth, Sirko said.
Because the annual test scores also compare, say, the previous year’s fifth-graders to the current year’s fifth-graders, the TCAP results can also be misleading.
“Looking at the trends over time, and how a group of students progresses from year to year, is really important,” Sirko said.
Re-1 has compiled a chart showing that trend for different groups of students, referred to has “cohort groups.” It goes back several years and tracks the same students from third grade all the way to high school.
For instance, a group of student who began taking the state tests at Sopris Elementary School in third grade in 2006 are now in the ninth grade at Glenwood Springs High School. That group of students, both Anglo and Latino, has improved in its reading proficiency from 65 percent in the third grade to 74 percent as ninth-graders.
That same group of students has seen their writing proficiency improve from 54 percent to 59 percent. However, their math proficiency has dropped from 85 percent in the third grade to 45 percent in the ninth grade.
Decreases in student math proficiency from elementary school into middle and high schools has been a typical trend statewide for several years, Sirko noted.
A similar student group starting from the third grade at Glenwood Springs Elementary School and now in the ninth grade at GSHS has also been followed, as have student groups in Carbondale and Basalt.
The chart also includes separate groups of Anglo and Latino students to show how they have progressed over several years.
“The bottom line is that we want all of our children to have all the tools they need when they leave school,” Sirko said.
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