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Summit CSAP scores exceed state averages

Daily News staff report and AP

FRISCO – Summit School District students are scoring above state averages on mandated tests of reading, writing, math and science abilities.

That trend was illustrated Wednesday when the Colorado Department of Education released statewide scores for the Colorado State Assessment Program (CSAP) and high school ACT tests.

Wes Smith, the Summit superintendent of schools who retires today, said Summit students continue to outperform the rest of the state.

He said the “especially welcome” results are Summit High School’s math scores, “which show great improvement compared to state math scores.”

State math scores appear to be stalled. They show 27 percent of sophomores at or above proficient level, whereas 37 percent of Summit High School sophomores test at or above the proficient level.

“While math scores remain unacceptably low in Colorado, it should be remembered that students were tested a year ahead of what they had been taught,” Smith said.

Summit is adjusting its curricular and instructional approaches to achieve higher levels of math proficiency, including teaching algebra in eighth grade, Smith said.

“We’re very heartened by the improvement in our math scores and look forward to the day when we see all students achieve at or above proficient,” Smith said. “I think these scores show that we can achieve that goal in the next few years.”

When the math tests were first given to high school students in 2001, only 25 percent passed, setting off alarms among educators. Last year saw an increase to 27 percent, and this year the percentage remained the same.

“”Very frankly, we haven’t made the changes across the state in curriculum that we’ve seen in other areas, like writing. We have not advanced in any significant way there,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Bill Moloney.

Smith said it has taken Summit two-and-a-half years of concerted effort to see these math scores improve.

“We have similar goals in reading and writing, and we expect to see similar gains in these areas in the next year or two,” the superintendent said.

A complete analysis of the released CSAP and ACT scores will be presented to the Summit School Board and the public at the board’s Aug. 27 meeting.

Statewide, students in about 200 classrooms increased their scores by 25 percentage points or more on the latest assessment tests, an achievement that state education officials called astounding.

Some improvement was credited to Amendment 23, which requires the state to increase funding for public schools. In many cases, the money was used to help cut class size and retain the most qualified teachers, educators said.

“”What really stunned us is the number of schools making truly striking gains,” Moloney said.

The biggest statewide gains occurred on the writing test.

“”Folks in the field said, “yes, writing is important,”’ Moloney said.

One bright spot for educators was that an equal number of boys and girls scored in the advanced and proficient categories in grades five through seven, and the gender gap was narrowing in grades eight through 10.

Students showed gains in 17 of the 25 test results released Wednesday, the highest level of growth so far. Other highlights:

n For the fifth year in a row, disadvantaged students made larger gains in third through seventh grade reading and writing than the state average.

n About 60 percent of schools that rated unsatisfactory last year showed growth in proficient and advanced reading scores.

n Overall, black and Hispanic students showed improvement in the proficient and advanced categories over white students in reading in grades four through six.

n Third-grade Hispanic students showed a 9 percent increase in the proficient and advanced categories in writing on the English versions of the test.

The testing program is in its seventh year. Last spring, CSAP administered 1.2 million tests. CSAP includes 27 exams in areas that include reading, writing, math, science, Spanish reading and Spanish writing. Results for two of the tests were released earlier this year.

Cary Kennedy, who promoted Amendment 23, which mandates state education funding at inflation plus 1 percent, said the amendment forced the state to provide $485 million in additional funds the past two years, including $331 million the last year alone.

– The Associated Press contributed to this story


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