Area students ahead of statewide academic pace | AspenTimes.com

Area students ahead of statewide academic pace

John ColsonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Schools in the upper Roaring Fork Valley are holding their own statewide and even improving, according to the Colorado Student Assessment Program test results.Schools in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale all graded out as either “stable” or showing “improvement” in their scores, and in one case “significant improvement,” in the CSAP results, which the Colorado Department of Education released Tuesday.Nearly all grade levels in Aspen schools were “stable,” meaning the grade’s test scores were virtually the same for the 2006-07 school year as those of the previous year, although Aspen’s students historically have scored far better than their counterparts statewide and continue to do so.An exception to the “stable” status was Aspen Middle School, where test scores showed students at the elementary grades had shown “improvement” in their scores, according to a summary graph The Denver Post published. While the elementary grades at the school were “high” for the second year, improvement in the actual numeric scoring resulted in a score of “improvement” on a schoolwide basis.The middle school’s report card rated 86 percent of the students as “proficient or advanced” (the top of the ratings tier) in reading, while 77 percent got the same rating in writing and 78 percent were listed as proficient or advanced in math. The statewide average reportedly is in the 50 to 60 percentile rating for most grades and subjects.According to data on the Education Department website, middle-school level students at Aspen Community School fared best on the recent round of testing, scoring in the “excellent” category two years in a row. But the scoring charts noted no improvement.Elsewhere in the district, Aspen Elementary received a “high” mark for the second year in a row, and Aspen High received its second “excellent” rating in two years.Downvalley results mixedStudents in Carbondale and Basalt also did well in the test scores, making higher grades than the statewide averages, according to a summary from Superintendent Judy Haptonstall of the Roaring Fork School District (Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs).”Given the academic growth we have seen in our students from the spring of ’06 CSAP test to the ones completed in the spring of 2007, we have much to celebrate,” Haptonstall said in a prepared statement.She cited gains in test scores among Basalt and Carbondale students that, although relatively small, do show improvement in reading, writing and match skills among elementary and middle schoolers, both Anglo and Latino.At Carbondale’s Crystal River Elementary School, where an estimated 80 percent of the student body is Latino, many of the students are known as English-language learners who have difficulty with tests designed for English-speaking students. And many, Haptonstall said, are not proficient enough in their native tongue, mostly Spanish, to take tests written in Spanish.”Our students who come to us speaking English continue to do very well on the CSAP tests, administered every year in the areas of reading, writing and math at grades 3 through 10, and science in grades 3, 8 and 10,” she said. “It is those students who come to us with no ability to speak, read or write English, who provide us our biggest challenge … performing at a high academic level three short years after coming to this country is a requirement that flies in the face of any research anywhere regarding acquisition of a second language, but that is what the state requires that we do.”Results from the education department show markedly different scores for Anglos and Latinos, usually with Anglos scoring higher – sometimes twice as high or more.Generally, the district’s schoolwide scores in the lower grades are below the statewide averages, according to a summary the district provided.In writing, for example, Roaring Fork School District fifth-graders scored 46 percent, while the statewide average was 57 percent, roughly the same as the 47-to-59 percent gap in 2006.But by the seventh grade the gap has narrowed or evened up, and by the 10th grade, the Roaring Fork School District students have pulled ahead of the statewide averages, with scores of 54 percent proficient or advanced in the valley, compared to 51 percent statewide this year.”Despite the challenges, teachers, principals, support staff and parents have a great deal to celebrate in terms of our growth on the state assessment,” Haptonstall said. Although the test results came out on Tuesday across the state, none of the Aspen School District’s administrators was available to comment on the scores. Superintendent Diana Sirko summoned all administrators to a districtwide retreat in the beginning of the week, and they were reportedly planning to go to a statewide conference of administrators later in the week. The tests were administered to students beginning last February as part of the general CSAP test regimen. The third-grade reading proficiency scores were reported in May to assist teachers in planning for the end of the school year.The scores released this week are the remainder of the CSAP scores from the February testing, including the balance of third-grade scores in other subjects and all CSAP scores for grades 3 through 10.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com.


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