Re-2 pleased with progress in test scores | PostIndependent.com

Re-2 pleased with progress in test scores

Every spring in late March and early April students in Garfield Re-2 along with the rest of the state of Colorado take the CMAS assessment test.

“It is the testing we are required to do both per federal law as well as state law,” Julie Knowles, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for Re-2, said.

Colorado Measures of Academic Success or CMAS includes English language arts, and math tested in grades 3 through 8.

“We also assess science in grades 5, 8 and 11, and then we assess social studies in grades 4 and 7,” Knowles said.

“Several years ago the state was concerned about the testing burden on kids, so with the social studies assessment they only sample one-third of the schools every year. Some years some of our schools take it, and some of our schools don’t.”

The test assesses both achievement and growth.

“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 important question of whether the students are meeting a grade-level expectation, which Knowles said is a yes or no.

If the answer is a no, the district still needs information on whether they are growing and making satisfactory progress toward the standard and if they are on track. That is where the growth comes in.

“It’s telling us how our kids grew compared to others in the state. Those growth percentiles give us great insight into how we are doing instructionally, and more importantly it really helps understand students at a more individual level,” Knowles said.

The state first gives districts data about achievement, which measures the percent of students against the standard of the grade level they’re in.

Knowles said the achievement side shows how students are doing compared to the standard, and the growth tells the district how the student grew on the assessment from one year to the next.

“That standard is related to kids being on track to being college ready by the time they graduate,” she said.

Achievement results come in June, with growth percentiles being released last week.

“We have been making steady progress in raising the bar of student achievement in Garfield Re-2 School District. Through a comprehensive approach, we are accomplishing that mission,” Garfield Re-2 Superintendent Brent Curtice said in a release. “We certainly are not where we would like to be, but we continue to improve both in CMAS scores and in student growth.”

Overall, in math and English language arts, the number of Garfield Re-2 students who met or exceeded expectations was higher than last year. Combined, Garfield Re-2 students improved by six percentage points in English language arts from 30% to 36%.

In math, overall, Garfield Re-2 students improved slightly from 21% to 22%. State averages were 46% and 35% respectively.

Knowles said when Superintendent Curtice arrived three years ago, Re-2 data had been yo-yoing up and down, and the district was generally below the state average in growth and achievement.

“One of the things we really saw is that we didn’t have a comprehensive instructional model in the district. We had been trying a lot of different things, but we didn’t have one that spanned preschool through high school,” Knowles said.

“We have been working really hard on our instructional model.”

Knowles said that Colorado has been very innovative in developing that growth model over the last decade, and many states have mimicked it.

According to the release, 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.

“Our growth scores indicate our comprehensive approach to instruction is getting students and teachers what they need to be successful,” said Curtice.

Last year, Garfield Re-2 implemented a new English language arts resource in kindergarten through fifth grade due in large part to the noticeable gaps between the former resource materials and the state standards.

“We applied the same intense focus to English language arts as we have been with math. Our teachers worked diligently to immerse themselves in these new tools, to know what their students need, to meet them where they are and give them the resources to really grow as students and as people,” Curtice said in the release. “This year’s results indicate we are driving the needle from a good school district to a great one. However, we must continue to strive for even more.”

Overall, participation rates ranged between 86% participation to 100% participation. According to the release, several schools showed growth.

Riverside Middle School showed growth in the 61st percentile in math and 60th percentile in English language arts — well above the state average. Wamsley Elementary and Elk Creek Elementary students performed above the state median in growth in English language arts.

Garfield Re-2 is looking forward to the release of the School Performance Frameworks in the coming weeks, where many different factors that assess the work of students and staff come together to create a more comprehensive picture of the work that needs to be done.

For more information about Colorado’s State assessments, go to http://www.cde.state.co.us/communications/resourcesforparents.

kmills@postindependent.com


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