CSAP figures provide insights, frustrations for school district
SUMMIT COUNTY – A review of the Summit School District’s 2004 Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) scores released Monday shows mixed results among schools.Among 22 testing categories, local students improved over 2003 in 10 categories, including fifth-grade reading, fifth-grade writing and eighth-grade science.But, performance declined in just as many categories, most notably ninth-grade reading, third-grade writing and seventh-grade math.But assistant superintendent Peggy Kastberg said that the data has some significant caveats that can make the figures more palatable.”You’re not looking at the same exact kids – it’s only a quasi-cohort,” Kastberg said. “When we look individually at kids who are consistently with us for more than three years, we see that they’re making progress, by and large.”Students not fluent in English are exempt from taking CSAP tests their first three years in the school district. Some special education students are also exempt. But the state still counts those students “not proficient” when it tallies the CSAP results.For example, 54 percent of Silverthorne Elementary’s third-graders demonstrated proficiency in reading, but that number includes nine students exempt from taking the test.Removing the exempt students from the equation bumps up the school’s third-grade reading proficiency to 70 percent.”It’s not that these kids aren’t important to us. They just don’t have the ability to take the test yet, and that counts against us. If they’re not fluent in English, it’s pretty hard to take an exam. It’ll probably be three to four years for them to be partially proficient,” Kastberg said.”Sometimes the numbers mean something and sometimes they don’t,” the educator said.The district also runs into trouble when CSAP tests don’t match up with local curricula, especially in math. The percentage of Summit students who scored proficient in math is a long way off from the district’s three-year goal of 85 percent. Statewide, math proficiency at most grade levels is less than 50 percent.”I had a mother come to me once and ask, ‘How can my son score in the 99th percentile on the ACT and only be ‘proficient’ on CSAP?'” Kastberg said. “CSAP is a good test, and we want to align our curriculum to it, but each test is different.”School district officials have been working to re-align the curriculum at the high school – where CSAP scores are lowest locally and statewide – and will begin the re-alignment process at the elementary level this year.”CSAP is certainly driving what we do here in Summit School District. It’s not the only thing, but it’s a big factor,” Kastberg said.Despite frustrations over CSAP, the district remains committed to nudging up proficiency levels to meet the school board’s goals as well as state and federal requirements. By 2006, the district hopes to be at 85 percent proficiency in every CSAP subject.During the next month, Kastberg will pore over CSAP data with principals in each school to identify strengths and weaknesses and remedy problems.She is optimistic about some changes already under way, including a revamped K-6 literacy program teachers will roll out this year. “Frisco Elementary third-grade writing went from 72 percent proficient in 2003 to 41 percent this year.”That really jumped out at me. That’s something we’ll be working on with the new principal and the staff there,” Kastberg said. “Our goals are set, and we want to meet them.”
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