Summit School Board:Setting the record straight on test scores
Education: Setting the Record Straight
As the elected officials of Summit School District’s public education system, we would like to address the misconceptions and inaccuracies portrayed about our local public school system in Morgan Liddick’s Aug. 25 Summit Daily News column. We have worked hard to put CSAP scores in their proper perspective and to improve the educational programs in all of our schools. We have made great strides in offering all students an exceptional education in Summit County which will continue to be our top priority.
The CSAP test and resulting data provides the District with useful information about our own internal progress in student achievement. However, when this data is used inappropriately to compare Summit School District to other dissimilar districts, the view given to the public is distorted. The Daily columnist misrepresented our CSAP test scores by comparing these scores with school districts that have very different student populations than Summit County’s. In our District, one in four of our students is classified as an English Language Learner, or ELL. These students are required to take the CSAP test in English even though they may be in their first years of learning the English language. This demographic fact is a major difference between Summit and the other school districts that were chosen by the columnist for comparison.
The school districts that were selected for comparison with our schools, along with their numbers and percentages of English Language Learners (ELL), are seen in the chart on this page.
A more appropriate comparison can be made by isolating the scores of Summit School District’s English proficient 10th graders to the selected school districts’ 10th graders. The data presents the percentage of students who are proficient or advanced on CSAP in Reading and Math.
Summit 93% 51%
Gunnison 78% 34%
Steamboat 87% 62%
Woodland Park 85% 36%
We recognize our challenge in helping students learn English quickly and have fully embraced this challenge through our partnership with the Colorado Department of Education to show other districts throughout the state how to close the achievement gap. We also recognize the need to improve our students’ achievement in math and have implemented a new math curriculum this year and have hired a math specialist to help us address this challenge.
It is misleading to our community to assume that an entire school district can be graded based upon selected CSAP scores. We believe that our local citizens grasp the bigger picture and can see that the quality of a school and a school district should not be measured through inappropriate comparisons of standardized test scores between schools that do not share common demographics.
We hold very high expectations for our students and ourselves. Across the District, every school demonstrates commitment to high academic standards, continuous educational improvement, the development of caring students, and the achievement growth for all students necessary to prepare them for post secondary and lifetime success.
Additional facts illustrate the type of quality education that Summit School District provides to our students:
• In 2009, Frisco Elementary and Upper Blue Elementary were recognized by the Colorado Department of Education for the steady achievement growth of their students over the past three years in Reading
• Summit High School’s ACT scores for 11th graders have exceeded the Colorado average for the past five years. Colorado’s ACT scores are above the national average.
• On average, 87% of SHS students graduate and 80% or more continue their education past high school
• English language learners who stay in our schools make steady growth in English proficiency and in academics as measured by CSAP
The columnist also provided confusing references about facility improvements as a trade-off for academics to imply that the District was choosing to improve facilities rather than improve education. The facility improvements were approved by voters two years ago and as voter approved funds, can only be used for this purpose. We are clearly delivering on the promises we made to Summit’s citizens and we will continue to maintain and upgrade our facilities.
References were also made regarding the payscale for our teachers as compared to these other school districts. Summit School District is committed to paying teachers and support staff a competitive salary. Even with salaries that are higher than other districts, our teachers and support staff struggle to find attainable housing in Summit County.
The issues of school finance, standardized testing, and the public education system are complex and often are difficult to explain in short summaries. We will work hard to increase and improve our communication with our public to develop better understanding of our challenges and successes. We encourage our citizens’ involvement in our schools. The Board of Educations meets twice each month and we look forward to the opportunity to hear concerns and field questions from our public. Our superintendent of schools, Dr. Millie Hamner, has an open door policy and welcomes suggestions about how our citizens think we can improve our operations and the educational experience for our students.
We know that Summit County’s citizens want great schools for our community. We welcome the advice, suggestions, and input from all as we continue this journey together.
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