Aspen schools receive top state ranking | AspenTimes.com

Aspen schools receive top state ranking

ASPEN – The Aspen School District has been “accredited with distinction” for 2011 by the Colorado Department of Education, the highest designation under the state’s rating system.

The district earned the same designation in 2010. This year the district scored 89.6 points out of a possible 100 points. Its 2010 score was 90.3.

“We are very pleased with the work that’s been put forth by teachers and realized in the kids’ performance,” Aspen Superintendent John Maloy said Wednesday, one day after the CDE released its annual performance reports.

The rating system, which was used for the first time last year, scores school districts and individual schools on a points basis. Categories include academic achievement, academic growth from year to year, and academic growth gaps between different groups of students. High schools are also rated based on the post-secondary/workforce readiness of their students.

Aspen scored a 95.8 percent in academic achievement, which garnered the district an “exceeds” rating because the percentage of students scoring at proficient or advanced is at or above the 90th percentile for Colorado school districts. The district scored a perfect 100 percent for post-secondary/workforce readiness.

“We do want to celebrate this, but other parts of the report indicate that we are not as strong as we would anticipate … that there is room for improvement,” Maloy said.

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According to district administrators, math and writing are two areas where the district is “approaching” meeting the standard, particularly for groups such as English Language Learners.

“We have strong, positive results for reading across all grade levels, but the other two areas naturally follow the success in reading,” said Aspen Assistant Superintendent Julie Roark.

According to the CDE report, Aspen met the outlined requirements in academic growth and academic growth gaps, with overall scores at the 80 percent level. But in some specific student groups and at some grade levels, Aspen was rated “approaching” and “does not meet” the adequate student growth percentile.

“We see positive signs in the middle grades (grades 5-8 received “exceeds” ratings), but the earlier and later grades are not as strong,” Roark explained. “We are trying to establish a more cohesive system of addressing the gaps some students have from the very beginning and hoping to sustain the growth through all of high school.”

Regardless, Aspen’s “accredited with distinction” designation puts it among the state’s top performers. Schools with lesser designations, such as “accredited with priority improvement plan” or “accredited with turnaround plan” come under greater scrutiny with regard to state-mandated improvement plans, and often receive state-assistance to meet those goals.

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com