Aspen students pass state tests with flying colors |

Aspen students pass state tests with flying colors

Eben Harrell

The first day back at school was no bummer for Aspen School District board members yesterday after they received news that local students have again performed well on state-mandated standardized tests.But the school board also acknowledged harder times to come, as the district is in the second year of a three-year plan to cut $1 million from its budget.In their first board meeting of the school year last night, board members were shown results from last year’s Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). The program tests students in grades three to 12 in reading, writing, math and science. CSAP tests determine a school district’s “grade” in a statewide effort to increase accountability among educators.As in past years, Aspen students ranked above state averages on every test administered, with more than 80 percent consistently scoring at or above state levels of proficiency. In eighth-grade reading, for instance, 91 percent of students scored at or above proficient, compared to a state average of 64 percent.District Superintendent Diana Sirko said the scores would probably bump the district’s overall grade from high to excellent. Last year, the school missed an excellent mark by a hundredth of a point. The grade will be released in December.Sirko also said that while the results should be taken as good news, there is still room for improvement.”If I look at 92 percent at or above proficient [in ninth-grade reading], it’s nice to see such a strong collective trend. But if I’m part of that 8 percent that is not proficient in reading, it’s not such good news. So we need to continue to pay attention to individual students and their needs,” Sirko said.At the meeting, Sirko also announced the creation of a budget study task force. The task force, which will consist of administrators, teachers and parents, will recommend $250,000 in cuts next year. After nearly $500,000 was slashed from last year’s budget, this year cuts will likely affect school programs, activities and staff, Sirko confirmed last spring.The cuts are the result of a budget shortfall of nearly $1 million announced last year.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

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