Aspen students excel in reading and writing | AspenTimes.com

Aspen students excel in reading and writing

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The results of the 2002 Colorado Student Assessment Program tests weren’t surprising to the Aspen School District.

Superintendent Tom Farrell said he and his administrators were expecting a repeat of last year’s results: a few low math scores coupled with outstanding marks in reading and writing. The district’s suspicions were confirmed when the Colorado Department of Education released the state’s CSAP scores Wednesday.

Though Aspen students continue to excel in the language arts, they tend to come close to or fall short of the state average when it comes to arithmetic (see chart on page 15).

“The scores came out pretty much how I expected,” Farrell said. “I’m still very pleased with our reading, and writing continues to improve. The math shows that some areas are improving.”

Aspen’s CSAP scores came in below the state average in only two of 22 categories, eighth- and 10th-grade math. Aspen sophomores fell 2 percent below the state average; the eighth-graders came in 5 percent behind their peers.

Math produced the lowest scores for local CSAP takers. Though Aspen’s ninth-graders came in at 7 percent above the state average, they still recorded only a 38-percent proficiency in the subject. Aspen Middle School fifth-graders recorded the best scores with a 68-percent proficiency.

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The district identified its mathematical shortcomings well before students took the CSAP tests last spring, Farrell said, and is working to correct them. Former district assistant superintendent Joel Sheridan, who left the district this year after two years on the job, was hired specifically for his extensive knowledge of math curriculum. Farrell said Sheridan launched a district-wide study that helped math teachers revamp their courses.

Next year’s math scores should improve once the new math curriculum takes root, Farrell said.

“It took them [Sheridan and district teachers] all of last year to align our math curriculum with the CSAP,” Farrell said.

Another disheartening aspect to this year’s test results was an unusually high absentee rate, Farrell said. Twelve percent of Aspen High’s 10th-graders did not take part in the reading or writing CSAPs, while 10 percent of that age group skipped the math tests. Eight percent of Aspen’s ninth-graders abstained from the writing, reading and math tests, Farrell reported.

Aspen High was shocked by the death of its longtime librarian during the week CSAPs took place, Farrell said, which might have affected testing. However, the students apparently missed the CSAP makeup date two weeks after the rest of the state’s students took part in the tests.

Individual CSAP results will be sent to schools and distributed among students sometime next week.

[Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is jenniferd@aspentimes.com]