High marks for high-altitude aptitude
December 5, 2006
Aspen schools once again received high marks for student performance, in the 2006 School Accountability Report the Colorado Department of Education issued Tuesday.The SAR scores, a report card for each school in the state, are based on student performance in the previous year’s Colorado Student Assessment Program tests, meaning the 2006 School Accountability Report is drawn from results in the 2005-06 testing cycle.For the third straight year, Aspen High School made it onto the John Irwin Schools of Excellence list, an acknowledgment of the school’s “excellent” rating from the state. The report rated growth in student performance as “stable.”According to comparisons with nearby school district SARs, Aspen High students fared better than most. The Department of Education rated both Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools as “high,” and Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale rated “average” and “stable.” No other nearby high schools were in the “excellent” category.Aspen Middle School’s result for grades 7 and 8 dropped from “excellent” to “high,” with “stable” performance in student CSAP scores. Aspen School District Superintendent Diana Sirko said the lower rating was the result of a slight drop in student performance in last year’s CSAP tests. For grades 5 and 6, the rating was “high” and “improving.”
By comparison, Basalt Middle School scored “average” and “improving” in grades 5-6, and “high” and “improving” in grades 7 and 8. Carbondale Middle School rated as “low” but “improving,” which was a drop from last year’s “average” but “improving.”Aspen Elementary School’s score was in the “high” category with “stable” growth in student performance, according to the department of education. By comparison, Crystal River Elementary in Carbondale was rated “low” and “stable,” while Basalt Elementary earned an “average” and “stable” rating.”These scores are all the same as last year, except for one [the middle school],” Sirko said of Aspen’s scores.Last year, she said, AMS “was ‘excellent’ [in grades 7 and 8, but just barely.” This year, she said, the students’ performance on the CSAP tests fell off slightly, just enough to drop it into the “high” category.
The district’s only charter school, Aspen Community School, rated “average” and “stable” for grades 1-5, receiving ratings of “excellent” and “stable” for grades 6-8. That compares to last year’s results of “average” and “significant decline” for grades 1-5, and “excellent” with “significant improvement” for grades 6-8.By comparison, the Carbondale Community Charter School, in the Roaring Fork School District, received ratings of “high” and “improving” for grades 1-5, and “excellent” and “stable” for grades 6 through 8. The “excellent” rating landed the school on the John Irwin list for the second straight year.
Sirko said the scores are somewhat helpful, but not very enlightening, as a gauge of how students are doing from year to year.”I think overall it gives you a frame of reference as to how your schools are doing on comparison to other schools across the state,” she said. “You actually get far more information from the CSAPs themselves than you do from the [Student Accountability Reports].”But both testing regimens, she said, are “one piece, one point of reference” in a tapestry of information the school district collects, analyzes and uses to assess learning and figure out how to improve teaching and other educational tools.”We’re proud of these scores,” Sirko said, but “it means overall there wasn’t much change.”In a written statement accompanying the Student Accountability Report, Sirko said, “Our scores reflect our continued focus on providing a high quality education for our students. We are looking at all aspects of our instructional program and are committed to continual improvements for the future.”In a follow-up telephone interview, she said, “This tells us, certainly, that we have more work to do” in order to have all the district’s schools performing in the “excellent” category.John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.