Basalt school eyed as one to watch |

Basalt school eyed as one to watch

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

BASALT – Basalt Middle School is in the running for national recognition as one of the highest-performing middle schools in the country.

A committee of teachers and administrators will be at the school Thursday to assess its performance and determine if it qualifies for Schools to Watch, a national program designed to pick the top performers in each state.

Middle School Principal Jeremy Voss said “hard work” by teachers, students and administrators earned the school a place among the finalists in the program.

“We have teachers implementing standards-based education the way it should be,” Voss said.

One example of excellent education is the intervention loop the staff designed. Students who perform poorly on a standards test are identified and given special instruction to help improve in the areas where they need help.

Voss said the staff also was able to get kids to realize that the harder they work, the more successful they will be. The school has 420 students, a number that has remained stable despite the recession and slow recovery. Voss expects the enrollment to exceed 430 next year and 450 in two years, based on the elementary school classes that will advance the next couple of years. The school has 32 teachers.

The school has traditionally been split 50-50 among Anglo and Latino students. This school year the mix is more like 54 to 55 percent Latino and of them, 15 percent are the English Language Learners classes, according to Voss.

He said he is particularly encouraged by the school’s performance because the Latinos and the students overall showed improvement in 2011 over the prior year.

The middle school’s success shows up in results through the Colorado Student Assessment Program, or CSAPs. The middle school students showed phenomenal growth in reading and very solid growth in math and writing, according to the school performance website The median student growth percentile in math was 80 while 73 percent was considered adequate. In reading, the median student growth percentile was 72 percent compared to the “adequate” rating of 38 percent.

Voss said Basalt Middle School’s proficiency results still need improvement. In reading, 73 percent of students are proficient in reading and 66 percent are proficient in writing. Only 60 percent ranked as adequate in math, according to

If the school is selected for Schools to Watch, it reaps publicity and recognition from other educators looking for best practices. “There is no huge cash award,” he said.

The school will gladly take the recognition.