Aspen students outperform rest of the state in CSAPs | AspenTimes.com

Aspen students outperform rest of the state in CSAPs

ASPEN – Students in the Aspen School District again outscored their peers in standardized state tests, according to data released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Education.

Results from the 2010 Colorado Student Assessment Program show that Aspen students were 86 percent proficient or above in reading, compared to 69 percent statewide. In writing, 73 percent of Aspen students were proficient or above, compared to 53 percent across the state; the stats were similar in math, with 75 percent of Aspen students proficient or above compared to 55 percent of their peers. The gap in science was slightly greater at 24 percent, as 72 percent of Aspen students scored proficient or above compared to 48 percent statewide.

“Of course we are pleased with the results, and with our students and teachers,” said Aspen Superintendent John Maloy. “But we also need to look at these results with an eye toward areas we can improve, and we also need to remember that the CSAPs are just a snapshot in time.”

Students from third to 10th grade take the CSAP tests every spring, a requirement under the federal No Child Left Behind law and its goal of having all students proficient at reading and mathematics by 2014.

“That is the federal mandate,” said Maloy. “But it is a lot more complex than just a test score.”

In fact, the Aspen School District – which comprises Aspen Elementary, Aspen Middle and Aspen High schools, as well as the Aspen Community School – is as focused on individual students’ growth as it is on overall test scores and comparisons to students across the state, he said.

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“In Aspen, we expect to see – and we generally do see – high achievers,” Maloy explained. “What we also want to see is high growth, and we have work to do here.

“What this means is we want to take the larger picture and funnel it down to the individual student … we want each child to experience growth and improvement, or at least remain constant, from year to year.”

According to data compiled by Maloy, the district has met that goal in several grades and subjects. For example, five grade levels increased their scores in reading compared to 2009; six grade levels did the same in math. In writing, however, only three grade levels experienced a score increase over 2009.

“Overall the District experienced impressive gains in Reading, Math, and Science. Writing experienced fewer gains than expected and certainly warrants a more in-depth review of the results,” he wrote in a memo to the school board.

Maloy said the district has already taken action to improve writing scores – as it did in the past with math to much success, as Aspen’s math scores have continued to improve as a whole while state statistics show that Colorado students are struggling more with math than writing for the first time in at least five years. Among the strategies being used by the district is teacher training and a focus on reinforcing “a common language, writing consistency, writing procedures and prompts, and improved assessments.”

Regardless, Maloy stressed the fact that CSAP scores alone are not an indicator of a student’s or the district’s success.

“We don’t want to get caught up – good or bad – in thinking that these statistics are the end of our assessments or hold all the weight of our success,” he said. “Academics are first and foremost, yes, but we all have to understand we are educating the whole child.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com