Grade school recognized for academics
SUMMIT COVE – Summit Cove Elementary was the only school in Summit County to receive an “excellent” rating from the Colorado Department of Education for the 2004/2005 school year. It was the second consecutive year the school has been awarded the state’s highest rating.Principal Crystal Miller attributes the school’s strong academic showing to a focus on frequent assessments of what kids need, and a dynamic and quick response to the results of these assessments. The ratings by the state education department are based on standardized test scores, informally called CSAPs. Third, fourth and fifth grade students are tested for their proficiency in reading, writing and math, and their results are compared to those of other elementary schools in the state.Miller compared CSAP scores to an autopsy.
“By the time we get the data back on fifth graders they’re already in middle school,” she said. The secret to Summit Cove’s success is ongoing evaluation using input from all members of the instructional team.”We regroup students weekly, depending on what they need,” she said. “We base placement of kids on their skills, not on any labels.”Miller emphasized the importance of a team approach to education. Teachers meet every Friday to discuss individual student progress. A visit to a typical kindergarten class at Summit Cove revealed 16 children divided up at tables among four adults.”We use lots of paraprofessionals and volunteers in addition to our certified teachers,” she said. Parents donate more than 250 volunteer hours per month to the school.
Miller, in her third year at Summit Cove, brings an unusual scientific background to her position as administrator. After getting her bachelor’s degree in molecular biology, she worked in a genetic cloning lab for 10 years.”It was very lonely,” she said. “I decided kids were where it’s at.” She started working in a preschool and eventually went back to school to get a teaching certificate.Originally from San Diego, Miller moved to Summit County from Olathe, Colo., in 2003. Since her arrival, Summit Cove Elementary ratings have gone from “high” to “excellent.” Miller said her knowledge of scientific research has interfaced well with the district’s approach to student assessment.
“She has really focused her staff on looking at student performance,” said superintendent Millie Hamner. “We’re very proud of the work that’s going on at Summit Cove.”
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