Aspen students’ test scores exceed statewide averages |

Aspen students’ test scores exceed statewide averages

Fourth- and seventh-graders in the Aspen School District scored well above statewide averages in the Colorado State Assessment Program reading and writing tests, administered in March 1999.

Fourth- and seventh-grade students from schools in the Roaring Fork School District scored in ranges comparable to statewide averages, though a sizable number of students in the mid- and downvalley schools speak English as a second language. That variable was not factored into the tests or test results, pointed out Judy Haptonstall, assistant superintendent in the Roaring Fork district.

The results, which were released Monday, indicate 87 percent of fourth-graders at the Aspen Elementary School read at or above grade level. That score represents a 14 percent increase from 1998 test scores, and an 18 percent increase from 1997, the first year CSAP tests were administered.

Sixty-three percent of fourth-grade students enrolled in Roaring Fork School District schools – Glenwood Springs Elementary, Sopris Elementary, Carbondale Elementary, Basalt Elementary, and the charter schools Carbondale Community School and Aspen Community School – read at or above grade level, according to the test results. That score represents an 8 percent increase from the 1998 test results.

Statewide, 59 percent of fourth-graders scored at or above grade level in reading.

In the fourth-grade writing assessment test, 52 percent of Aspen Elementary students were found to write at or above grade level. The score represents an 18 percent increase over scores in 1998.

In the Roaring Fork School District, 26 percent of fourth-graders were found to write at or above grade level. The 1999 district average remained static from last year’s test, and increased 1 percentage point from the 1997 test results.

Statewide, 34 percent of fourth-graders scored at or above grade level in writing.

For the first time, reading and writing tests were also administered statewide to seventh-graders. Eighty-three percent of seventh-graders at the Aspen Middle School scored at or above grade level in reading, while 55 percent of the school’s seventh-graders scored at or above grade level in writing.

In the Roaring Fork School District, 60 percent of seventh-graders (at Glenwood Springs Middle School, Basalt Middle School and Carbondale Middle School) scored at or above grade level in reading, while 39 percent of seventh-graders scored at or above grade level in writing.

Statewide, 56 percent of seventh-graders scored at or above grade level in reading, while 41 percent of seventh-graders scored at or above grade level in writing.

“We’re pleased,” said Lisa Halverson, assistant principal and special education coordinator at Aspen High School. “We’ve been working on reading for years, at the elementary school particularly, and it has paid off and we feel good about that … Our hope is that we will continue to improve, because 13 percent of our fourth-graders are not proficient in reading.”

“Our fourth-grade writing scores still aren’t where we want them to be, but it shows us if we put a focused effort on a certain area, like we have with reading, then we realize we’ll get results,” Halverson said, adding that in the last year, a greater emphasis has been placed on writing.

Halverson said the district is also pleased with the seventh-grade test results.

“For a first time around, we’re very pleased,” she said. “We still know that we need to focus more attention on writing, and the test scores verify that.”

Haptonstall said Roaring Fork School District officials were also pleased with their students’ scores.

“I think we’re making great progress,” Haptonstall said. “Obviously, until we have 100 percent of our kids proficient, we’re not entirely happy, but this does show teachers that what they are doing is effective, and that’s rewarding.

“There are certainly some problems with writing and we need to focus more time and energy on that problem,” Haptonstall continued. “We have plans in place to continue to work on improving those scores.”

She said the district has begun offering more training seminars for teachers, which focus on teaching writing, since the first CSAP tests were administered.

Statewide, CSAP testing aims to hold all districts accountable for student performance. The state has yet to generate a CSAP performance standard policy, but it plans to require average- and low-scoring districts to incrementally increase scores each year, beginning next fall, Haptonstall said. School districts that fail to improve will likely be supervised more closely, among other things, she said.

“It’s pretty clear what kids are supposed to know and be able to do,” she said. “Certainly, you can’t argue with the kinds of things that the tests require kids to know, they should know all these things. I have no problem with being held accountable for making kids learn, the problem most people are having with CSAP testing is that the state does not allow you to separate your data.

“We have a significant population of English as a second-language learners, and they are being compared equally with English-speaking natives,” she said. “And it’s difficult to say that each student should be at this proficiency level at this grade level, regardless, because we’re not going to be able to get them all there that quickly.”

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