Aspen public schools making the grade
Ryan Summerlin January 28, 2013
ASPEN – The Aspen School District once again scored high marks in a comparison of Colorado schools, but Superintendent John Maloy believes this particular distinction should be taken with a grain of salt.
“As far the Colorado School Grades ranking is concerned, it is always a testament to the Aspen School District’s staff, students and parents when the district’s schools are recognized for their outstanding student results as they relate to academic achievement and academic growth,” he said. “However, I think it is insensitive to use a graded system to rank schools, especially when the grade is primarily based on a single test.”
Colorado School Grades, a coalition of 18 community organizations – including The Anschutz Foundation, Colorado Succeeds and Get Smart Schools, among others – grades schools in an effort to “provide community members, parents, students and educators with school performance information that is both accessible and easy to understand,” according to the coalition’s website. The grades are calculated using official state data and a formula created by the Center for Education Policy Analysis at the University of Colorado Denver.
As such, Aspen’s public school ranked high in the report card released earlier this month, with Aspen High School receiving an A (26th of 327 high schools), Aspen Middle School receiving an A-plus (seventh of 491 middle schools) and Aspen Elementary School receiving a B-plus (106th of 998 elementary schools).
“The Colorado School Grades tool is much easier to understand and offers more clarity about how every public school in the state is actually performing,” said Tim Taylor, president of Colorado Succeeds, one of the groups behind Colorado School Grades.
“The state of Colorado is already ranking and labeling schools based on this information. Colorado School Grades simply translates the state’s current labels from fuzzy descriptors such as ‘performance’ and ‘priority improvement’ into easy-to-understand A-through-F letter grades,” added Scott Laband, vice president of Colorado Succeeds.
But Maloy believes there is more to determining a school’s success than a letter grade.
“There is a great deal of teaching, learning and relationship building that happens in schools every day that can’t be measured by a single test,” Maloy said. “Consequently, I believe graded rankings do a disservice to school communities and staff when grades are assigned to schools with such little overall data.”
Still, those behind Colorado School Grades believe the rankings give parents one more tool for helping their children succeed.
“Information is power, and Colorado School Grades is designed to give parents and community members the information they need about school performance so that they can engage in school improvement efforts and make more informed school-choice decisions,” Laband said.