Third-graders in Aspen score high on literacy test |

Third-graders in Aspen score high on literacy test

Tim Mutrie

Most third-grade students in Aspen read at a higher level than their counterparts throughout the state, a recent test discovered.

But third-graders in Carbondale and Basalt are less proficient with a book in front of them than the state average.

The Colorado State Assessment Program (CSAP) test gauges literacy and reading level. According to test results released by the state, the statewide CSAP average was 67 percent, which means two-thirds of Colorado’s third graders read at their grade level or above, while one-third read below proficient levels.

Aspen Elementary School earned the highest score in the valley, with 84 percent of the students testing at or above grade level. Last year – the first year the CSAP test was administered statewide – Aspen Elementary registered at 89 percent proficient.

Glenwood Elementary School was close behind at 81 percent. The school jumped 14 percentage points from the 1998 score of 67 percent.

The Aspen Community School, a charter school, earned a 77 percent proficiency rate for its students, down five notches from last year’s 82 percent.

Basalt Elementary School students tested at 64 percent, down from a 74 percent score in 1998. And Carbondale Elementary School students tested at 58 percent proficient, down 20 points from a 78 percent score last year.

The schools that registered the lowest proficiency levels have the largest percentages of students in the valley who speak English as a second language. Those pupils account for between 30 and 40 percent of Carbondale Elementary students and about 30 percent of Basalt Elementary students, according to Roaring Fork School District superintendent Fred Wall.

“That is a contributing factor in the decline,” Wall said, adding that the margin of error in CSAP test has not been determined.

“We have to do some analysis to look at what happened in Carbondale. But on the positive side, we need to look at Glenwood Springs Elementary, because if they’re doing some unique programs there, we need to look at trying to implement those at the other schools,” Wall said of the results.

Tom Farrell, superintendent of the Aspen School District, was happy with the high results his students achieved.

“I was really excited about these scores because if you look at our gender, we have 34 girls and 62 boys in the third grade, and at that age girls tend to do a better job at reading than boys,” Farrell said. “Also, what pleased me is that 0 percent of our kids were in the unsatisfactory category.”

Farrell said that of the dozen or so students who did not score in the proficient range, most missed the grade by the narrow margin of a question or two.

“This test tells me that what our teachers are doing at the elementary level is right,” Farrell said. “In particular, I think our second- and third-grade teachers are doing an incredible job.”

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