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Summit School District looking to build an empire

Janice Kurbjun
summit daily news

Achievement scores aren’t up to par for Summit School District students, but administrators are celebrating students’ growth from one year to the next in the Colorado Student Assessment Program.

“Our students have high growth gains,” superintendent Heidi Pace said. “It’s important because if they’re growing, the achievement will come along.”

The idea is to get a school that’s both achieving well and growing at a high rate, she added – like Breckenridge Elementary School. Students there had the best gains from 2010 to 2011 in writing, math and reading. In writing, the state asks student achievement to reflect a 31 percent increase. Breckenridge saw 74 percent growth. In math, the state asks student achievement to reflect a 36 percent increase. Breckenridge saw 68 percent growth. In reading, the school was required to grow 22 percent, but saw 79 percent growth. And in reading, the state requirement was 31 percent, but student performance grew 74 percent.

The school also showed good performance overall, district officials said. Third-grade students at Breckenridge Elementary scored 42 percent proficient and advanced in writing, 76 percent in math and 76 percent in reading. In the same categories, fourth-grade students scored 78, 93 and 93 percent proficient or advanced while fifth-grade students were 87, 83 and 90 percent proficient or advanced.

On the other hand, Dillon Valley Elementary is an example of a school whose growth is ideal, but achievement scores need bettering.

Writing scores were at 28 percent proficient or advanced for third grade, 41 percent for fourth grade and 56 percent for fifth grade. Scores were in the 60 percent range for all grades in math and reading hovered around 50 percent proficient or advanced.

Meanwhile, Dillon Valley’s growth out-competed state requirements by 16 percentage points in writing, 4 in math, and 18 in reading.

“The achievement still isn’t where we want it, but, based on the growth trajectory, they will be a contender, if you will,” Pace said.

“This year was extraordinary gains,” added Bethany Massey, director of assessment and instructional technology.

Some growth is attributed to students moving up within the unsatisfactory and partially proficient category, Massey said. Those scores aren’t included in moving a school’s grade level toward the adequate yearly progress benchmarks outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which requires all students to be proficient or advanced by 2014.

Summit School District’s 2011 scores mostly well exceeded state levels of proficient or advanced students. Some scores were on par with the state’s, and some slightly below state performance.

As a state, Colorado’s reading scores ranged from 65-73 percent proficient or advanced, writing ranged from 46-61 percent and math ranged from 31-71 percent proficient or advanced.

“This year’s overall CSAP and Growth Model results indicate student achievement success in several key areas, but also highlight the pressing need to continue strengthening the education pipeline so that every student is ultimately prepared for college or a career,” Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia said. “Now more than ever, we must implement the significant education policy reforms passed in the Legislature these past few years to ensure success for all students across the state.

Parents will get an individualized achievement and growth report for their student, with a letter of explanation, at the start of the school year in late August, district officials said.

But beyond communicating the results, the district seeks to take action to continue the upward curve – such as creating discussion between primary and secondary educators as students transition on Monday early release days.

“It’s what we needed and now we have the leader in place to do so,” district spokeswoman Jaimee Borger said. “It’s everyone working together for the success of the students.”

Other initiatives that have begun and will continue include constantly benchmarking students, analyzing the data and catching students who are falling behind before they’re lost – something called response to instruction.

“We want to do what we’re doing better and deeper,” director of instruction Robin O’Meara said.

Though the district’s math scores far exceeded those of the state, it’s a focus area across the district, she said, adding that she plans support for secondary math instruction and continuing curriculum reinforcement, revision and alignment.

All this while building cultural proficiency and following the belief that all students can learn, provided adequate support.

“We’re at a time in education where we do know what works,” Pace said, because there’s an industry of research that validates certain practices.


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