Valley test scores above state average | AspenTimes.com

Valley test scores above state average

John Colson

Carbondale Elementary School remains in academic limbo with the release of the latest statewide test scores.Meanwhile, Aspen’s schools have continued with their overall high performance in the testing programs, again coming in with results that are higher than state averages.There were some positive results for Carbondale Elementary, as well. Some grades did so well on their Colorado State Assessment Program tests in spring 2005, the school was placed in a “special commendations” class of schools where scores increased by 10 percent or more in given categories, according to Judy Haptonstall, assistant superintendent for the Roaring Fork School District.The school’s general performance, however, leaves in doubt whether it can stay off the state’s list of schools on “probationary status.” Carbondale Elementary had been on that list due to poor test scores but was removed due to a technicality. Before that, however, officials were saying that if the school had one more year of bad test scores the district would have had to come up with a restructuring plan to overhaul the school’s operations.Still, school officials up and down the valley were buoyed by Tuesday’s release of the latest CSAP scores for area schools, which showed schools in the Roaring Fork and Aspen districts continued to do well by state standards.”The Roaring Fork School District is very pleased with the latest CSAP results from state assessments completed in the spring of 2005,” Haptonstall said in a written statement. “Teacher, administrator and student effort, energy, intensity and focus are really paying off.”At Carbondale ElementaryA rundown of detailed results in the Carbondale Elementary report shows that scores in reading and writing tests in the third and fourth grades were up by 10 or more points, earning the school “special commendations” status in the eyes of the Colorado Department of Education.According to a summary provided by Haptonstall, the school’s overall third-grade reading score went from 35 percent proficient or advanced in 2004 to 49 percent proficient or advanced this year, while the fourth grade went from 23 percent in ’04 to 38 percent in ’05.In the writing tests, third-graders’ scores doubled, from 16 percent in ’04 to 32 percent in ’05.There continued to be a disparity among Anglo and Latino students, with Anglo students performing far better on the tests than their Latino counterparts. But Latino scores improved markedly, as well, in one case quadrupling over the previous year’s scores (from 2 percent proficient in ’04 to 8 percent in ’05 in writing tests among third-graders).In math scores, which this year were given for the first time to third-graders, the overall Carbondale Elementary third-grade score was 47 percent proficient or better, which translated to 66 percent for Anglo students and 36 percent for Latinos. Among fourth-graders, also testing in math for the first time, it was 42 percent for the school, or 71 percent for Anglos and 21 percent for Latinos.In the fifth grade, math scores dropped this year, from a school-wide 45 percent in ’04 to a score of 34 percent in ’05, reflecting declines in both Anglo and Latino scores. A similar decline was recorded among Basalt Elementary School students in fifth-grade math scores, from 61 percent overall last year to 52 percent this year.At Carbondale’s other two traditional public schools, Roaring Fork High and Carbondale Middle, results were mixed. Roaring Fork, for example, saw a decline this year in its overall scores for reading, writing and math in the 10th grade, but ninth-graders pushed up their scores slightly in each category.Scores were available only for 2005 for the Carbondale Community School, a charter school where scores ranged from 31 percent in fourth-grade reading and writing to 92 percent in third-grade math.In BasaltAt Basalt Elementary, third-grade scores stayed the same in reading (77 percent), but rose in writing (from 54 to 63). For its first year in math testing, the third grade scored an overall of 66 percent proficient or better. Basalt fourth-graders bettered their score from 52 percent to 65 percent overall in reading, declined from 48 to 44 percent in writing, and scored 51 percent overall in math.In the Basalt Middle School, fifth-graders showed slight declines in reading and writing skills and dropped from 61 percent proficient in math to 52 percent. Sixth-graders got better in reading, lost a little ground at writing, and edged upward a bit in their math skills, while seventh-graders got a little better at reading and writing but dropped from 56 percent to 39 percent in math. Eighth-graders also improved their reading and writing skills but dropped slightly in math.At Basalt High, ninth-graders dropped from 80 percent proficient in reading to 71 percent; from 67 to 53 percent in writing, and from 45 to 39 percent in math.Haptonstall said there are “areas for further study and discussion” to bring test scores up, including increased focus on reading, writing and math skills at the fifth-grade level. Also, she concluded, more emphasis is needed on imparting literacy skills to Spanish-speaking students who have had “no or little formal education” before arriving in the Carbondale schools.”We have pockets of very successful practices in all schools in the district,” she said. “We need to replicate those successes seen in isolated instances district wide.”Aspen students shineAspen’s students improved their scores in most categories, staying even or falling a little in such areas as the reading scores at Aspen Elementary (they dropped from 88 percent to 84 percent).But, as Assistant Superintendent Bev Tarpley noted, “The Aspen School District continues to exceed the state averages in all scoring categories in all grades.”All three of Aspen’s traditional public schools exceeded state averages in reading at all grade levels. The only exception was at the Aspen Community School, which scored at 60 percent in the fourth grade, compared to the state’s average of 64 percent.But the Community School also recorded the only 100 percent scores in reading among the local schools – in grades five, six and eight – as well as a 100 percent in writing in grade six.Tarpley said that while it is useful to examine the state’s way of reporting CSAP scores – comparing each grade in a given year, but not following a particular group of students through successive grades – “a more useful way to view the data is to compare how a grade of students performs year after year as they move through the system.”For example, she said, “How did the group of seventh-graders do on CSAP Reading in 2003 (90 percent), then in grade eight in 2004 (91 percent) and then as ninth-graders in 2005 (93 percent)? This is a more useful view for schools as they review their curriculum and instructional programs and plan instruction for their students.”She said an analysis of the Aspen scores will be conducted in the coming weeks and will be available for public examination.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com