Summit County third-graders on par with state for reading skills |

Summit County third-graders on par with state for reading skills

SUMMIT COUNTY – Seventy percent of Summit School District’s third-graders are reading at or above grade level, according to the latest data from the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). The results place local students on par with the overall state performance on the third-grade reading test.

The Colorado Department of Education released third-grade CSAP reading scores for the entire state Tuesday – about two months ahead of data for all other grade levels and test subject areas. Third-grade reading scores come earlier than the rest of the data so local district officials can better identify individual students who are struggling and provide necessary help. The full set of data across all grades, which will become available this summer, will provide a bigger picture of students’ performance districtwide.

“This is another piece of the puzzle,” school district spokeswoman Julie McCluskie said. “This helps us see what a student needs.”

Last year, 80 percent of Summit’s third-graders scored “proficient” or “advanced” on the state’s reading test. But this year’s figure of 70 percent doesn’t mean students or schools are doing worse, district officials said.

To start, this year’s third-grade class has a higher percentage of students whose first language is not English. This year, 28 percent of local third-graders are English-language learners (ELLs); ELLs made up 21 percent of last year’s class. Also, many third-grade students at Dillon Valley Elementary took the test in Spanish last year, and those results were not grouped together with the results of native English speakers. This year, nearly all students took the English version of the test, even if they were not fluent.

Superintendent Millie Hamner said she was pleased with a third-straight year of steady progress at Silverthorne Elementary, where 67 percent of third-graders scored proficient or advanced, up from 52 percent last year and 43 percent in 2008.

“Given their high number of English language learners, this is significant work in closing the achievement gap,” Hamner said. “That school is coming along beautifully, and it’s a trend we hope to see continue.”

Longer-term trends are more telling than year-to-year fluctuations, especially when examining data at the level of an individual school. Some of Summit School District’s elementary schools are small enough that the performance of a single student can sway the data by almost three percentage points. Such is the case at Breckenridge Elementary, which saw a drop of 19 percentage points in the number of third-graders who scored proficient or advanced in reading this year. And many of the Breckenridge students who scored only “partially proficient” were only a test-question or two away from landing in the “proficient” category, according to Bethany Massey, the district’s director of assessment.

Ninety-four percent of Summit Cove Elementary third-graders scored proficient or advanced on the CSAP reading test this year, making 2010 the seventh year in a row they have landed above the 80 percent mark.

Districtwide, third-grade girls scored better than boys, with 75 percent proficient or advanced, compared to 65 percent of boys. Eighty-two percent of white students scored proficient or advanced, while 43 percent of Hispanic students demonstrated reading proficiency. Forty-four percent of ELL third-graders scored proficient or advanced.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or

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