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Aspen students get high marks on reading test

Tim Mutrie

Third-graders at Aspen Elementary School notched some of the best marks in the state in Colorado State Assessment Program reading tests administered statewide last fall.

Ninety percent of the third-graders received scores indicating reading levels at or above grade level. A mere 7 percent of Aspen’s third-graders scored “partially proficient” in reading, and no students scored in the “unsatisfactory” level.

Across the state, 70 percent of third-graders scored at or above grade reading levels, 20 percent were partially proficient and 9 percent scored in the “unsatisfactory” range.

Numbers weren’t quite as impressive in the downvalley schools. In the Roaring Fork School District, 75 percent of third-graders scored at or above grade reading levels.

“We’ve been pretty happy with our reading results,” said Lisa Halverson, testing coordinator for the Aspen School District. “We’ve put a lot of time and energy into our reading program, and we’re seeing that’s it’s paying off.”

The third-grade reading CSAP test was first administered to public and charter school students across the state in 1998. Eighty-nine percent of Aspen’s third-graders scored at or above their grade’s reading levels in 1998. Last year, the number had dropped to 84 percent.

At the Roaring Fork School District, third-graders improved from 73 percent in 1998, and from 69 percent at or above their grade’s reading levels in 1999.

“In 1998, we had 3 percent who scored in unsatisfactory range, and in the last two years, we haven’t had any kids score unsatisfactorily,” Halverson said. “So we’re pleased with that.”

The CSAP results were released statewide yesterday.

Judy Haptonstall, assistant superintendent of the Roaring Fork School District and CSAP testing coordinator for the district, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In a written statement from the district, officials said they are “pleased with the results … teachers, administrators, parents and students are to be commended for their hard work.”

Halverson said this year there were “no surprises” concerning the students who scored in the partially proficient category.

“We have identified them and they’re getting some extra services in the reading area to boost those scores, so there were no surprises,” she said. “If anything, we were pleasantly surprised that kids in [English as a Second Language] or with language needs scored in the proficient range and not in the unsatisfactory range.”

The Roaring Fork School District noted that many students in the district also took the test in Spanish, though those scores aren’t reflected in the statewide averages.

“At Basalt Elementary [where 79 percent of third-graders scored at or above grade levels], 95 percent of students scored in the proficient or advanced category. Because only a few students at each of the other elementary schools [in the district] took the test in Spanish, there were no school scores available,” stated a press release.

With new legislation passed at the urging of Gov. Bill Owens, CSAP testing of all public school students is expected to expand in the near future. According to Halverson, third-graders through 11th-graders will be tested almost yearly in reading, reading comprehension, writing, science and math in an effort to monitor and improve education throughout the state.


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