Test scores prompt District 16 brainstorming session | PostIndependent.com

Test scores prompt District 16 brainstorming session

Amanda Holt MillerWestern Garfield County Staff

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on the Colorado Student Assessment Program third-grade reading results. Today we look at Garfield Re-2 and District 16 schools. On Wednesday, we look at Roaring Fork School District Re-1 schools.Third-grade teachers and administrators at Bea Underwood Elementary School in Parachute met all day Monday to brainstorm ways to improve the reading program. The meetings were a reaction to the early release of third-grade Colorado Student Assessment Program test results.Forty-eight percent of District 16 third-graders scored at or above proficient in reading, a drop of 15 points. None were advanced.That’s below the state average, where 71 percent of third-graders scored proficient or advanced this year. In districts with fewer than 300 third-graders 74 percent scored proficient or advanced. District 16 had 81 third-graders.Sandy Hanson, director of public relations for District 16, said administrators just received the data and are still processing it to see what might have caused the drop.”Things change from year to year,” Hanson said. “But the fact of the matter is, we need to do better.”Bea Underwood teachers and administrators spent all of Monday in meetings, she said.”Our main emphasis now is that we need to take this data and use it to drive our instruction so we can do better next year,” Hanson said. She also said the school plans to restructure its reading courses for next year and offer summer school for all the students who did not pass the CSAP, including 17 percent of third-graders this year compared to only 4 percent last year. The meetings Monday also focused on tailoring instruction to individual students.”What worked last year might not work this year,” Hanson said. “You have different kids who learn differently.”This drop is the latest swing on a seesaw for District 16. Hanson said that in 2003, 49 percent of third-graders were proficient or advanced, and in 2002, 63 percent were. ‘A whole different group of kids’Meanwhile, Garfield Re-2 third-grade scores improved slightly, from 66 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced on the reading CSAP in 2004 to 68 percent. In school districts throughout Colorado with 301-600 third-graders, 78 percent scored proficient or advanced. Re-2 had 332 third-graders.Erratic numbers are not uncommon on CSAP results, especially when the results focus on one grade level.”It’s not out of the ordinary for scores to fluctuate,” said Mark MacHale, the former principal at Roy Moore Elementary School in Re-2. “You’re looking at different groups of kids.”Roy Moore also showed a dramatic decline this year.In 2004, 98 percent of third-graders scored proficient or advanced, compared to only 74 percent this year.Sam Humphrey, the curriculum coordinator for Re-2, said the 98 percent score last year was out of the ordinary for Roy Moore. In 2002, 76 percent were proficient or advanced, and in 2003, 79 percent were.”They had an exceptionally good year in terms of student performance,” Humphrey said. “As soon as those results were on my desk last year, we were already saying we didn’t expect the scores to be anywhere near as good this year.”There were several variables involved that may have impacted the third-grade scores this year. MacHale said there were two new third-grade teachers, which might have made a difference. There were also only 40 third-graders last year and 70 this year.”It’s a whole different group of kids,” said Roy Moore principal Lisa Whitmore. “You add an extra 30 kids, and it can make a big difference.”Whitmore said the population difference between classes is typical at Roy Moore, where the fourth-grade and kindergarten classes are much smaller than other groups. Whitmore said she was pleased with Roy Moore’s results.”We’re still above the state average and that’s always a good thing,” Whitmore said. “But we’ll continue to work on the program and improve it.”Clustered scoresHumphrey was also pleased with the overall district performance at the third-grade level.”This year has been our best year in terms of range of performances for each school,” Humphrey said. “In the past we might have one school at 98 percent and one at 54 percent. This year we are much more clustered around that 70 percent than ever before.”Humphrey said the clustered scores indicate the district is creating a more uniform curriculum focused on the state standards. He said scores have been higher, but this year, the schools are moving toward a unified goal. The two higher-performing schools, Roy Moore and Kathryn Senor Elementary School have reading programs that have existed for seven years. The district implemented new reading programs three years ago at the two lower-performing schools, Highland and Wamsley elementary schools, both of which saw gains in their scores this year.Humphrey said that while the district is still below the state average, he believes it’s on the right track.”We certainly want to be a high-performing district,” Humphrey said. “We believe the programs we have in place have to be the answer for increasing student performance.”

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