CSAP a snap for Summit Schools | SummitDaily.com

CSAP a snap for Summit Schools

Reid Williams

SUMMIT COUNTY – The good news is there’s very little bad news.

Summit Schools officials, principals and teachers were proud to announce Wednesday the results of the most extensive state-mandated testing of students since the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) tests began in 1997. In all but one testing category, Summit students topped the state average on the standardized exams. District administrators described the results as “stellar” and “encouraging.”

The highlights touted by the superintendents include:

n At Frisco Elementary, 93 percent of fourth-graders were at or above proficiency in reading. Ninety-seven percent of those fourth-graders were at or above proficiency in writing, too. Among Frisco’s fifth-graders, 94 percent were at or above proficient in reading.

n One hundred percent of Breckenridge Elementary’s fifth grade scored at or above proficient in reading, and 90 percent of the class earned top marks in writing and math.

“This is an extraordinary group of students,” said Breckenridge fifth-grade teacher Nancy Perry.

n Eighth grade math results have steadily improved the past three years (the results represent different groups of students). Beginning in 2000, 36 percent of eighth-graders were at or above proficiency; the next year, 44 percent made the proficiency cutoff and, in 2002, 47 percent.

“We attribute these gains to the attention given to math curriculum alignment and professional development under the leadership of math consultant Ardyce Putnam,” said Assistant Superintendent Millie Hamner.

High school test results weren’t as encouraging. Statewide, 27 percent of high school sophomores scored at or above proficient on their math test. The same proportion of Summit High 10th-graders cleared the proficiency mark. Although Summit’s juniors beat the state average on the ACT (18.8 on a scale of 36), the group scored lower than previous classes with a composite average of 19.4.

“I thought the students would score higher considering their quarter and semester grades and their daily work habits,” said high school co-principal Frank Mencin. “I don’t think the recent CSAP socres are a true reflection of student performance at Summit High School.”

In the six years the tests have been mandated and administered, their weight has grown as state legislators have expanded the testing scope and the weight tied to test results. Last year was the first year in which all students in third through 10th grade were required to take the tests in math, reading and writing. A science test also is given to eighth-graders. In 2001, the Legislature announced it would use the CSAP scores to grade schools. Schools designated as failing have three years to improve, or the state takes over.

But the anxiety those developments inspired in school officials has been balanced by the usefulness of the information test scores provide, Hamner said. The school district’s “data miners,” or staff members trained to glean the “so what next?” from statistics, look through reports that analyze student performance on specific test items. They look for patterns and, with the help of contract consultants helping the district’s reading, writing and math programs, develop instructional strategies to fill in gaps in student knowledge. Teachers are offered training opportunities based on the needs indicated by test scores.

“These scores are a little too general to apply at the instructional level,” Hamner said. “But we get additional, more specific reports and do some of our own analysis to turn it into information we can use.”

School board members will review the CSAP results at their Aug. 14 meeting, and principals will be briefed on the scores Aug. 20.

Superintendent Wes Smith said it’s important to keep CSAP tests in perspective.

“Kids need to know these things and have these skills, but we also teach arts, citizenship, character and an excitement for learning,” Smith said. “We hope our district is described as one that keeps all this in balance.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.

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